In the field: Toquepala, Peru

Senior MineSight Specialist, Ernesto Vivas, meets some of the ‘locals’.

Senior MineSight Specialist, Ernesto Vivas, meets some of the ‘locals’ during a visit to Toquepala.

Hexagon Mining serves clients in some of the remotest parts of the planet. Earlier this year, Senior MineSight Specialist, Ernesto Vivas, visited the Toquepala mine in the Peruvian Andes. Here’s his report.

Toquepala is more of a city than a mining camp. ‘Home’ to 2,000 people, Toquepala offers almost everything you might need, including an elementary school, a high school, hospital, supermarkets – even a golf course complete with 19th hole!

The mine itself is a typical open pit, truck, and shovel operation. On behalf of Hexagon Mining’s mine planning arm, MineSight, I visited to deliver a two-week mine planning training course. MineSight is a comprehensive mine planning and mine modeling software platform for exploration, modeling, design, scheduling and operation.

Toquepala is a typical open pit, truck, and shovel operation in the Peruvian Andes.

Toquepala is a typical open pit, truck, and shovel operation in the Peruvian Andes.

We started the class with MineSight Economic Planner to determine the economic pit limits, incremental pit shells, and preliminary pushback creation. One of the issues encountered during the training was the ‘gap/jump’ challenge when the price is slightly increased. There are a few alternative ways to solve this issue. However, one simple solution to this problem is to limit the optimization area of the block model, as shown below.

Limiting the optimization area of the block model is a simple solution for the gap/jump challenge.

Limiting the optimization area of the block model is a simple solution for the gap/jump challenge.

After the pit optimization portion of the class, we proceeded to reserves reporting, pushback design and haulage configuration. The intention of the haulage portion for long range was to simply obtain cycle times for later use during the scheduling stage, for which we used the existing phase solids.

Starting topography and phase designs.

Starting topography and phase designs.

Toquepala’s LOM schedule was evaluated with MSSO first with *.scd files and later with solids. Some of the students were familiar with our legacy scheduling tools, and for them it was really refreshing to see the latest and greatest version of MineSight Schedule Optimizer (MSSO) in action, which put a big smile on their faces. After the long range portion of the class, I spent a weekend of spiritual retreat at Toquepala’s housing facilities.

Peace and quiet at Toquepala’s housing facilities.

Peace and quiet at Toquepala’s housing facilities.

During the second week, we switched gears to the medium- and short-range planning portion of the class. Toquepala’s main goal is the implementation of MSSO for medium- and short-term planning. During the first three days we trained with Toquepala’s data using a simplified case. During the last couple of days we worked on setting up a preliminary 18-month mine plan. The students were a combination of experienced users, all the way to interns with very little experience. However, all of the students were very smart and engaged with the training.

Toquepala-footie

Lastly, no trip to South America is complete without a proper game of soccer!

Toquepala is a successful and productive user of Hexagon Mining’s MineSight software. We have high hopes of the mine converting to Hexagon Mining’s operations and safety solutions, too!

Toquepala’s students take a break from training.

Toquepala’s students take a break from training.

 

MineQuest Down Under

 

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Clients made the most of their chance to share in MineSight’s pursuit of productivity at MineQuest-Perth last week.

Nearly 40 customers attended the annual seminar at Fremantle’s Esplanade Hotel, June 19-20. With MineSight’s acquisition just days away, Vice President-Technical, Glenn Wylde, opened MineQuest by explaining how MineSight fits into Hexagon and its newly created mining division. He offered an overview of MineSight product development and outlined the role of MineSight’s new partners within Hexagon Mining. Two of those companies – SAFEmine and Leica Geosystems – were in attendance.

“Clients are encouraged, not only because they know that MineSight products and service will be just as good, but because of the potential offered by Hexagon,” said Wylde.

Glenn Wylde

Glenn Wylde

“MineSight has a great opportunity to leverage some of the tools and abilities from the other technologies within the Hexagon group. Whether that means more functionality for our plotting tools, added GIS abilities, or just better interaction with Leica Jigsaw and SAFEmine, the potential for MineSight and Hexagon Mining is huge.”

News of more detailed MineSight product development came in a busy schedule of presentations.

Product Manager-Operations Products, Mark Gabbitus, then presented MineSight Implicit Modeler, which has made huge strides since its release barely a year ago. The latest improvement, added just this week, sees the introduction of true thickness logic, which will make life considerably easier for anyone modeling coal.

Next up were Atlas, Planner and the new unfolding utilities, comprising the Relative Surface Interpolator and Dynamic Unfolding.

MineSight's Kristin Trappitt and Grant McEwen, with Matt Cotterell of Snowden.

MineSight’s Kristin Trappitt and Grant McEwen, with Matt Cotterell of Snowden.

MineSight Specialist Verne Vice led the after-lunch presentations, providing tips and tricks to working with MineSight 3D. Fellow Specialist Rohan Anchan presented the new and improved MineSight Reserve, which impressed one client sufficiently that he intends to implement it onsite.

Mark Gabbitus returned to discuss MineSight Performance Manager. MSPM allows you to track key metrics in the drill and blast process, dig rates and truck locations. This allows you to reconcile and improve the blasting and mining process for greater productivity and profit.

At MineQuest-Perth are Jack Gomez (Brockman Mining), Matthew Desmond (Leica Geosystems), Dean McAllister (SAFEmine)

Jack Gomez (Brockman Mining), Matthew Desmond (Leica Geosystems), Dean McAllister (SAFEmine)

MineSight Specialist Andrew Baxter wrapped up Day 1, showing off the new Stope and underground design tools. Combined with Atlas, these tools make MineSight a complete underground solution for any mine’s engineering department.

Over drinks and canapés there was plenty to network about, from the mining industry and software needs to the World Cup and that amazing goal by Aussie striker Tim Cahill!

At least one client is convinced of MineSight’s progress.

“I believe the software has come forward in leaps and bounds,” said Rodney Drown, Kimberley Metals Group Mining Engineer. “It has made my engineering life easier and has provided an informative and robust system to create business strategies for the companies that I have used MineSight with.”

Sub-blocking, creating better grade models with Implicit Modeling and Unfolding, and improvements to MineSight Torque (particularly its compositing functionality) all featured in a busy Day 2.

MineSight staff Cassandra McCredden, Céleste Knight and Andrew Kaushal.

MineSight staff Cassandra McCredden, Céleste Knight and Andrew Kaushal.

Principal MineSight Specialist Kristin Trappitt discussed using Value of Information to better define drill programs and improve mine revenue. His talk incorporated using conditional simulation and MineSight Economic Planner to create values for the blocks and then produce an optimized pit.

Rohan Anchan wrapped up the day’s last session with Plotting for Productivity. This included the changes made to plotting within MineSight 3D, which make the process so much easier for users.

“MineQuest Perth produced some excellent questions, requests and feedback,” said Wylde. “It was great to see so many clients there and good to catch up with those who haven’t needed technical support for a while. Thanks to all the clients; to our new partners in the Hexagon family; and to the MineSight staff for presenting such a great MineQuest.”

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Talks and tours in Tyrone, New Mexico

 

Several MineSight staff from Tucson headquarters signed up with Arizona-SME for the annual FMI trip, May 17.

Several MineSight staff from Tucson headquarters signed up with Arizona-SME for the annual FMI trip.

Talks and tours were the highlights of a field trip to Freeport McMoRan’s Tyrone operation in New Mexico.

Several MineSight staff from Tucson headquarters signed up with Arizona-SME (Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration) for the annual FMI trip, May 17.

“We arrived in Silver City to beautiful weather of sunny skies and 75 degrees – a nice break from the heat of Tucson,” said MineSight Specialist, Johnny Lyons-Baral, one of 11 staff who made the bus trip – some of them accompanied by family members.

“Two talks were presented before lunch. The first talk was on the use of LiDAR [Light Detection And Ranging] in mining at the FMI Chino operation for much safer surveying and slope stability analysis,” said Johnny. Chino mine, also known as Santa Rita mine, is 15 miles east of Silver City.

“The second talk showed how geophysical surveys using electrical resistivity could greatly assist in the hydrogeological characterization of the multi-decadal leach dumps at Tyrone.”

A tour of Tyrone, about 10 miles south of Silver City, followed lunch. The Tyrone mine is a porphyry copper deposit and among the lowest grade ore bodies in the FMI mining portfolio. Despite this, the operation – a model of efficiency – has been able to extend its life of mine numerous times. Tyrone’s copper processing facilities comprise a solution extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) operation with a maximum capacity of approximately 100 million pounds of copper per year.

Prior to 1860, Native Americans mined turquoise at the site. FMI (formerly Phelps Dodge Corporation) acquired mining claims in the area from 1909 to 1916, and began concentrating ore produced from large-scale underground mining in 1916, ending in 1921.

Open pit mining resumed in 1967, with copper production from a concentrator. The SX/EW facility was commissioned in 1984. Tyrone’s concentrator suspended operations in 1992 when the property made the transition to SX/EW production.

MineSight staff toured the SX/EW plant and one of the open pits.

“It was fascinating to think about the leaching process of heaping hundreds of feet of broken ore, pouring solvent through the broken rock to dissolve out the desired minerals, waiting very long periods of time for the fluid to travel out of the giant man-made mountains, purifying the solution down to the desired minerals, and then extracting them electrically,” said Johnny.

“The pit was a nice opportunity for us to get up close and personal with a giant haul truck and to peer over the sheer edge over the working area. There was also RADAR and a Total Station positioned at this view point, which allowed us to consider the multiple real-time monitoring systems in place at mines for safety and process control.”

MineSight thanks FMI for taking the time to run these invaluable tours.

 

MineSight at Oyu Tolgoi

 

The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in southern Mongolia will be Mongolia’s largest copper and gold mine, and one of the largest mine's in the world.

The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in southern Mongolia started commercial production in 2013. It will be Mongolia’s largest copper and gold mine, and one of the largest mines in the world.

One of the world’s biggest mines, Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, is switching to MineSight technology. MineSight products Axis, Atlas and Schedule Optimizer are all in different stages of implementation at the copper-gold mine.

Earlier this year, MineSight specialists, Kristin Trappitt and Verne Vice, travelled to Mongolia from Mintec’s Perth, Australia office. Kristin helped install and set up MineSight Axis, the essential tool for mine operations. MineSight Axis manages, tracks and communicates drill and blast data, and optimizes material classification.

Verne, meanwhile, presented customized training and implementation of MineSight Atlas. Introduced last summer, Atlas is a complete package for manual scheduling and stockpile blending. Fully integrated with MineSight’s 3D toolkit, Atlas offers a resource-based, true-calendar approach to scheduling and manages all material movement and reclaim. Despite being less than a year old, Atlas is already at work in several mines.

MineSight specialists Verne Vice and Kristin Trappitt appear to have acclimatized to minus 25.

MineSight specialists Verne Vice and Kristin Trappitt appear to have acclimatized to minus 25.

A temperature swing of some 60 degrees Celsius only added to the upheaval of a long and circuitous journey: Perth to Kuala Lumpur to Beijing to Ulaanbaatar for an overnight rest and then a morning flight from Ulaanbaatar to Oyu Tolgoi.

“Leaving Perth and a balmy 35 degrees to getting out at Ulaanbaatar and minus 25 was certainly a shock to the system,” says Kristin. “I had a travel buddy in Verne so the long layovers weren’t boring for a change.”

Oyu Tolgoi LLC is building and operating the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in southern Mongolia. It will be Mongolia’s largest copper and gold mine, and one of the largest in the world. It started commercial production in 2013. Oyu Tolgoi LLC is a strategic partnership between the Government of Mongolia, which owns 34%, and Turquoise Hill Resources, (a majority-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto) which owns 66%.

The Oyu Tolgoi operation consists of open-pit and underground mines, a processing plant and supporting infrastructure. It produces high-grade copper and gold concentrates. The open-pit mine will be a large tonnage operation, including shovel/truck combinations, production drills, ancillary services and other support equipment.

Verne Vice rated accommodation at Oyu Tolgoi as among the best he's seen. 'The rooms had everything you need along with good wifi and a surprisingly comfortable heat compared to the minus 30 outside.

Verne Vice rated accommodation at Oyu Tolgoi as among the best he’s seen. ‘The rooms had everything you need along with good wifi and a surprisingly comfortable heat compared to the minus 30 outside.’

Oyu Tolgoi replaced its previous script grade control system with MineSight Axis. While the mine’s open-pit geology team uses alternative software for its primary geologic modeling, the mine planning, survey and geotechnical teams use MineSight for their daily work in short, mid and long range planning, drill and blast designing, mine progress updates, ore control activities and reconciliation calculations.

“This created a break in geological information flow as data moved from grade control to mine planning,” explains Kristin. “Implementing MSAxis allowed for an information system that is fully integrated, thereby reducing operational risk and improving efficiencies.

“After arriving it was straight into a quick site induction before spending the rest of the day installing and setting up MSAxis and the corresponding project onto the Oyu Tolgoi network and related computer. They want to run the Ore Control process from a single desktop to help reduce discrepancies in the programs involved in the process.”

During the week, Kristin helped update the model to include new items as well as the OC project to account for the latest information from the new MineSight project being created at MineSight-Perth.

The Oyu Tolgoi operation consists of open-pit and underground mines, a processing plant and supporting infrastructure.

The Oyu Tolgoi operation consists of open-pit and underground mines, a processing plant and supporting infrastructure. It produces high-grade copper and gold concentrates.

“We made updates to the process and spent more time training the main users,” says Kristin. “This led to improvements in the processing options selected, as well as allowing fine-tuning to the process. This included adding a Penetration Rate as part of the assay extraction step and interpolating this value into the model with an IDW run.”

Since Oyu Tolgoi’s production geology group would now be collaborating with the Ore Control engineers in the MSAxis Grade Control project, Kristin embarked on a new round of training. This ensured the production geology group became familiar with MineSight Axis, MineSight installation, MineSight 3D CAD, grids, plotting, model and drillhole views and MineSight Interactive Planner.

During Kristin’s second week on-site, staff was treated to a glimpse of what MineSight Performance Manager can offer Oyu Tolgoi. The newest, fully-integrated addition to MineSight’s operational product suite, MineSight Performance Manager features consolidated reporting and true mining analytics. It quickly answers the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of mine production via dashboards that offer streamlined displays for intelligent decisions. With a window on operational costs and production goals, it saves time and money.

“The demonstration via the Perth office allowed the ore control and planning engineers to see that there is a positive way forward for monitoring and analyzing the different information streams from around site that affect and are affected by production,” says Kristin.

Oyu Tolgoi staff get to grips with MineSight Axis.

Oyu Tolgoi staff get to grips with MineSight Axis.

The last few days were spent finalizing the site requests for details to be included in the MSAxis Grade Control process, as well as additional training with the geology group, says Kristin.

“Somewhere in this we even found a little bit of time to head out with the senior ore control engineer to have a look at the site, particularly the pit and stockpile locations. It was good to see how the actual process takes place on the ground compared to the computer version of mining.”

Verne Vice’s trip to Oyu Tolgoi began with Atlas training.

“This way the future Atlas users had an understanding of the capabilities and potential of Atlas before thinking of ways to implement it to suit their needs,” says Verne.

A group of largely experienced MineSight users spent three days training on Atlas.

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“Once the trainees had a grasp of Atlas they began to ask questions related to their current scheduling process, which we would address during the implementation.”

During the following days, Atlas was implemented and after some customization, Verne created time-saving plans to replace Oyu Tolgoi’s current workflow.

“In the final three days I conducted a separate training session with much of the same group,” says Verne. “In this session we looked at MineSight Schedule Optimizer and the potential for it to be used to replace current monthly and longer term schedules. The last day was spent mentoring a couple of users in setting up a real monthly project.”

Both Kristin and Verne are back in the Perth office, following up on Oyu Tolgoi’s feedback. One request – that of adding the option to target reserves in the MineSight Atlas auto-slicer plug-in – will be accommodated in Atlas 1.6, to be released this spring.

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Back from the booth: Salt Lake City

 

No stranger to being in the spotlight, Ernesto Vivas authored and presented a well-received paper at SME.

No stranger to being in the spotlight, Ernesto Vivas presented a well-received paper at SME.

A who’s who of the mining industry’s major players was in attendance for two MineSight papers presented at SME in Salt Lake City late last month. “Leadership in Uncertain Times” was the theme of the 2014 SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit. Mintec’s contributions from the podium can only have heartened mine companies seeking greater productivity.

“A one-two punch” is how senior MineSight specialist, Ernesto Vivas, described the case studies delivered to an audience of industry peers. Vivas authored and presented “An Integrated Mine Plan – Connecting Long, Medium and Short Term Planning Strategies at Goldcorp Peñasquito”. The paper was two years in the making and demonstrated a case study of how mine planning can be integrated with MineSight Schedule Optimizer.

At SME, Mintec's Frank Olivieri (left) fields questions from International Mining's John Chadwick (right) and Paul Moore.

At SME in Salt Lake City, Mintec’s Frank Olivieri (left) fields questions from International Mining’s John Chadwick (right) and Paul Moore.

“This has been a long-time gap in the industry, which Mintec is helping to close,” said Ernesto. “A lot of people are interested in it.”

Next up was principal MineSight specialist, Jim Lonergan, who together with MineSight specialist Abinash Moharana and Rio Tinto staff presented “Managing the Medium Term Mine Scheduling Challenges at Bingham Canyon Mine After the Slide”. Read it here!

“This was a fantastic presentation on how Mintec collaborated with the mine to convert Bingham Canyon’s in-house spreadsheet-based medium term mine scheduling process to the MineSight Schedule Optimizer program,” said Ernesto. “Combined, the presentations gave the audience a one-two punch. With case studies at two of the biggest and most complex poly-metallic open pit mines in Northern and Central America, we demonstrated MineSight and MineSight Schedule Optimizer as the Number One tool for mine planning.”

While SME attendance was modest compared to previous years, Ernesto and the rest of the Mintec crew staffing Booth 1407 are now busy following up a multitude of leads. Ernesto’s paper will shortly appear here.

MineSight specialists Ryan Bloomfield, Abinash Moharana and Ernesto Vivas at SME.

MineSight specialists Ryan Bloomfield, Abinash Moharana and Ernesto Vivas at SME.

New products, new video

 

Geologists and engineers looking for the latest advances in mine software need look no further than Mintec, which releases its newest MineSight product video today.

MineSight Atlas, Implicit Modeler and Performance Manager are featured in the video, which combines software footage and client testimonials. Mintec’s software experts preview the products, which are already creating a buzz in the mining industry.

“Atlas seems to me like a necessity,” says Abel Puerta (Hochschild Mining-Peru) of MineSight’s complete package for manual scheduling and stockpile blending.

“I think it’s something that’s going to have a lot of potential,” said Norwest Corp’s Scott Braithwaite of MineSight Implicit Modeler, which rapidly builds models and grade shells directly from drillholes.

“… Mintec is putting a lot of stock into the development of these packages that benefit us in the work we do on a daily basis,” said Minera Cerro Verde-Peru’s Willy Mesa of the new products.

For more MineSight product videos, click here.

Dropping in at Porgera

 

Barrick Porgera JV is an open pit and underground gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands.

Barrick Porgera JV is an open pit and underground gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands.

MineSight serves clients in some of the remotest parts of the planet. MineSight-Perth’s Kristin Trappitt reports back from a recent visit to Barrick Porgera JV, an open pit and underground gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands.

Kagamuga Airport in Papua New Guinea features a landing strip unlike most others. It’s short and resembles a ski jump. Due to the rugged terrain and Mt. Paiam right next-door, planes must gather just enough space for takeoff or drop enough speed to stop upon landing. Looking through the plane’s cockpit window and seeing only sky at the end of the runway makes for an exciting takeoff. It beats seeing a cliff, I guess!

Getting to Barrick Porgera JV from Australia requires a flight from Cairns to Mt. Hagen to go through customs and immigration. Then it’s onto a twin otter or helicopter for the short flight up to Porgera airport.

Ski-jump runways and steep descents are all part of the fun of getting to Porgera.

Ski-jump runways and steep descents are all part of the fun of getting to Porgera.

The mine site is at the top of the Porgera Valley in Enga Province of PNG’s Western Highlands. At 2,300 meters above sea level, the mine gets about 3.4 meters of rain a year. (The Ok Tedi mine gets about 10 meters a year!)

About 30 kilometers of rough roads separate the airport and the mine and camp. This takes you through a couple of villages and past the original airstrip, which is now a bustling market. Arrival at the camp allows for rooms to be distributed, lunch to be picked up, and then up to the safety department for visitor inductions. Once inductions are out the way it’s to the geology office to get reacquainted with the open pit grade control setup.

So the first afternoon was spent going through the grade control project, making necessary adjustments and ensuring that everyone could access required databases and project directories. We also made a few small changes to MineSight Interactive Planner (MSIP) as the grade items wanted for reporting grades had changed.

Porgera is about 130 kilometers west of Mount Hagen, 600 kilometers northwest of Port Moresby, and about 680 kilometers by road from the coastal port of Lae from which all materials are freighted.

Porgera is about 130 kilometers west of Mount Hagen, 600 kilometers northwest of Port Moresby, and about 680 kilometers by road from the coastal port of Lae from which all materials are freighted.

Monday was spent finalizing this part of the process and updating the remainder of the MSIP objects to use the correct grade items. We devoted much of Tuesday to updating plot layouts. This included tips to ensure the legends and title blocks sit in the same place when plotting to printers and pdfs, as they do when viewing the print preview. We also built a new MineSight project, which enabled basic training through the A-Z process of importing ascii data to the drillholes, through to a simple IDW model and reserve reporting. This illustrated how MineSight Axis saves time, as well as what is going on behind the scenes.

We covered a lot of ground during the rest of the week. We revisited the model building process, training on the latest MineSight tools and functions, including coding, materials, clipping, verifying and reporting. A staff changeover midweek meant new ideas and new projects, including creating a new block model for the grade control process.

The final full day was spent tidying up loose ends and backing up MineSight projects with help from the site IT department. With fly-out day Monday, our final few hours were spent ensuring a copy of the project and databases were collected, with final adjustments made to the grade control documentation.

Barrick Porgera staff are excited about the continued software improvements, new MineSight products and the change to package licenses.

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