Software tools

The global mining industry has a long tradition and history even though the business itself is highly complex, demanding, with prolonged time to market and also highly risky. Adding up to the complexity is that the industry also promotes advancements in the areas of sustainable business, corporate social responsibility, environmental, health and safety protection. Also, companies are feeling the pressure of changing market demands while ensuring lower operating costs and higher quality. 

The mining industry faces a number of issues i.e. at the outset of greenfield exploration, it is crucial to have an in-depth and well defined comprehension of the geology of the respective mining field. Prior to any extraction operation, let alone planning for processing, the prospecting work in order to investigate whether the resource large enough for commercial viability or not involves extensive and demanding field work. This includes deposit sampling and analysis which is costly and time consuming. Other issues in general as follows:

  • High energy and feedstock costs with dwindling profit margins at the processing plants
  • Stringent compliance with regulatory and environmental policies 
  • Reduced efficiency due to an aging workforce and lack of skilled manpower at the mining sites
  • Fragmented systems, physical entities and non-standard interfaces preventing the integrity of mining business process (with operational control and management centers and also automated decision support systems)
  • Inconsistent definition of  processes and activities specific to the mining business
  • Therefore lack of “off the shelf” automation, communication and collaboration tools do not satisfy the industry fully
  • And feedstock capacity and production demand management on the fly

Hence the industry has been working on realizing sustainable business value through common operating models, and delivery of technical and business solutions with support of the forum called Open Group Exploration, Mining, Metals & Minerals Vertical (EMMM™) that is a global, vendor-neutral organization.

On the left, the block diagram depicts DRA's Mining Operations Management System (MOMS). Please click here further information on MOMS.

The diagram below depicts the Enterprise Architecture Standards and Reference Models for the exploration, mining, metals and minerals industries that are being created by the members of EMMM Forum in year 2008.

The objective is to extract more value at every stage of mining operations and help automating operations of mines, increasing throughput of the processes and lowering operating costs – from the mineral extraction sites through processing plant and also market delivery.

Prior to the Enterprise Architecture Standards and Reference Models, the industrial fragmentation on definitions of the processes and activities specific to the mining business was a major cause for prevention of building common information management systems in the industry.

Application of the rationale behind Enterprise Architecture Standards and Reference Models to development of enterprise IT systems has opened ways creating a new framework that is globally relevant and usable by entire mining industry dispersed among different mining types, geologies and multiple disciplines. Since then the IT industry has been working competitively to build information, process and activity control and management systems.

Today, exploration, extraction and beneficiation in mining are supported by advanced technologies and automation tools.

THE USE of ISA 95 as REFERENCE MODEL

Also, use of ISA 95 as an international forum works on standards for the integration of enterprise and control system  called with the same name, ISA 95 and generates an alternative venue. ISA 95 consists of models and terminology and helps to improve information flow between the plant floor, automation system, the manufacturing execution level, and the ERP levels.

With the increased focus on sustainability and business improvement, ISA95 standard is gaining usage in the mining industry. Its usage allows a functional framework to be set up for mining and softwares may be developed using ISA 95 standard. This may include both mine development and mine operations.

CONCLUSION

As the resources sector continues to grow with increased complexity within the business, the companies around the world are seeking to maximize productivity, increase efficiency and profitability. However, mining’s complex value chain typically creates organizations that are structured into divisions based on their functional or expertise area. The reality of multi-site operations further increases this complexity.

The formation of these dispersed business units and the lack of information systems crossing these functional divides makes it difficult for mining companies to reach peak performance.

Thus there are many companies around the world that have been working developing systems based on the business models given above. Today, exploration, extraction and beneficiation in mining are supported by advanced technologies and automation tools.

Please click here further information on a real life application developed by DRA, the Mining Operations Management System (MOMS). 

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