In a downturn, everyone must respond to cost pressures. Making cuts in the wrong place can actually cost your company money, now and in the long term. Unfortunately, business often views geoscientific information management (GIM) as an unnecessary expense. Data is the basis for good decision-making but if the necessary data isn’t available, your company is at risk. A panel discussion held at PDAC this year lends insight into what you can do to help mitigate that risk.
Each area of information management adds specific value in exploration and mining operations.
When these four pillars are managed together, it’s much easier to see where organisational changes can be made to contribute to overall efficiencies. When they’re viewed in isolation, a short-term cost-cutting exercise can have long-term impact.
“One of the first things that tends to be cut in any sort of exploration environment is the information management,” says Dan Taranik, managing director of Exploration Mapping Group.
Data related to drilling, sampling, geophysics, and direct discovery technologies is lost or discarded if the business sees information management as an expense. All the information collected as part of the exploration process is vital for future decisions at the mine.
Jason Dunning, group manager, geology in exploration for Nyrstar, elaborates on the value of data.
“The industry fails to recognise that we have to make decisions, but we should be making data-based decisions, in other words fact based. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an exploration decision, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an operational decision, a milling decision, we need the data,” he says.
How do you prevent valuable data from disappearing in a cyclical belt tightening?
“If you want to make change, make a business case around those four pillars and upper management will understand cost savings and spending a little bit of money now to make money years forward,” says Taranik.
Dunning advises geologists to think more broadly about the trickle-down effect of information management and how it relates to cost savings for miners. He maintains managing the four pillars of information management together will equate to time savings.
“Time savings equate to salary and benefits, and they equate to everything right down the chain,” says Dunning.
With good information, you can make quicker drilling decisions and experience less standby time. You can also get the drill and blast design done more quickly, meaning all of the pieces in the chain to get your commodity extracted become more efficient. But Dunning maintains it’s not just about data collection and management.
“When you aggregate all of those cost savings, it’s not just a single simple cost. It can actually be quite substantive. They have to be part of a business case. We can go out and put all these systems in place and justify it,” he says.
A lot of those savings are tangible and can be quantified, but Dunning cautions they have to be put into perspective for the people making cost-cutting decisions.
“You can tell someone, ‘We can save you money,’ but when you tell them, ‘I just saved you the cost of a brand new Ford F250 fully loaded at $65,000 or $70,000,’ they won’t understand the quantification until you tell them ‘I just bought you a Ford F250 fully loaded.’
It’s essential to present a business case that resonates with your audience. A mine manager will have a different set of concerns than a geologist. Those will be different yet from a procurement officer or a DBA. Make sure you’re including a cost justification. While it’s essential to put it in monetary terms, don’t be afraid to present the cost of risk associated with making decisions in the absence of good data.
“That can cost you money, that can cost you lives, so let’s use the data so that it’s put in the appropriate places to actually make the business more efficient and more safe,” says Dunning.
The mining industry is great at collecting data and poor at storing it or utilising it. Figure out what is important for your company to collect and monitor and then make a business case to support it.
An acQuire GIM Solution helps you achieve maximum efficiency and reduce costs in your operations by putting the right processes, people and technology in place. Your data is then able to sustainably deliver value to your business.
Watch the entire panel discussion from PDAC: How new technologies are influencing challenges and trends in GIM.