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12 Mar 2021 - GIM Suite – Technology, Business Management by Warren Carvey

Is your mine site using the right software tools for the right job?

When all you have is a hammer, it’s tempting to treat everything like a nail, right? We can agree “the law of the instrument”, when applied to technology, presents untold opportunities to use software in ways not entirely fit for purpose. In an era of “integrated platforms”, “enterprise-wide systems”, and “all-in-one solutions”, it’s easy to see how it can happen.

It happens in mining all the time. A mine planning system might double as the main geological database. Or worse, spreadsheets are used in place of a database. While everyone knows it’s not ideal, we all know it happens far more often than it should.

Why use the wrong tool to manage your geoscientific information, especially if it makes it difficult to manage and trust your data?  Likewise, you can use an abacus to manage your accounting, but why would you?

The problem with using mine planning software for data management

Let’s talk about an issue we’ve seen throughout our years of experience– using mine planning software or resource modelling software to manage your geological data. The idea that you can have a seamless flow of data from your geological database to your mine planning software is alluring. Seamless is good. It means less work.

But if we think it through, is it actually less work? With such a strong industry focus on connectivity and interoperability between software solutions, should you compromise your overall data management?

A patchwork solution for geological data management

There are things a mine planning database won’t do. It means you need to rely on third-party applications, workarounds, or homegrown systems to counter the deficit in data management functionality. Consider the following:

  • Data collection is cumbersome and prone to errors. (You’ve heard the other old technology chestnut, “garbage in, garbage out”, right?) If you’re relying on mine planning software, you’ll need to import your source data using something like Excel or .csv files. There is likely to be a lack of validation at the point of collection, introducing errors during import. It takes time to find and fix those errors, and to ensure data is in the right format for your mine planning system.
  • You are responsible for the QA/QC function to ensure the data in your mine planning system is trusted. Your abacus spreadsheet might be of help, or Access, or some other custom SQL database. It’s a lot – a lot of work and a lot of responsibility.

Lack of transparency and other fun facts

Keeping your original observations and measurements through a patchwork system is exceptionally difficult. Validating the data at point of capture – and ensuring it meets all your business rules – is a mean feat. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to maintain the integrity of that data throughout the life cycle of your mining operation. You’ll almost certainly end up with siloed data and no single source of truth.

What you can expect is:

  • A lack of trust in your geological data
  • Inefficiencies in your data workflows
  • Your database managers and geologists get lumped with administrative work
  • To become an expert at dealing with grumpy people.

The benefits of trading the hammer for a GIM Solution

Here’s the thing; a software solution isn’t that helpful if you’re trying to use it for a job it wasn’t designed to do. Yes, mine planning software may have some data management capabilities but it won’t have the big picture of your geoscientific information. If you can’t trust your data, how good is the planning or modelling going to be?

If you want data you can trust, you need mature software. Here are eight things to look for when choosing a geological database provider:

  • Leadership and product teams with geoscientists on staff
  • A single source of truth for all your data for reporting, critical decision-making, governance and compliance requirements
  • A long-term focus on geological data management
  • A way to audit the data in your database
  • A focus on data quality from the point of capture, through to the life of the mine, and even after decommissioning
  • A way to apply validation rules to ensure no corrupt or incorrect data gets stored, regardless of where the data is collected or who does it
  • Access to your data from mobile, desktop, or the web to accommodate everyone who needs to access it
  • Security features to ensure the integrity and validity of your data.

Where to go for help

Why not find out more about GIM Suite and why it’s a premium geological data management solution? You can also contact our team to discuss your data management requirements and what options are available for you and your organisation.

About the Author
Warren Carvey

Warren Carvey is the Operations Manager for North America. He has over 13 years of geoscientific information management experience working with acQuire, with most of this time servicing customers in North America. Warren is passionate about helping acQuire’s customers get the most out of their GIM Solution.

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