Mining for data

THE data mining phenomena has an affinity with the mining industry.

The demand for increased reliability and optimisation in the industry is driving technology to capture real-time data, and increase the value of data analysis.

“The goal is to develop and improve the value of collected data by focusing on solutions which provide a high level of information accessibility,” MineSuite product development manager James Cameron said.

“Technology is building on the philosophy that plant and fleet systems need to provide real-time data feed-back to geology and planning personnel, so that models can be kept in tune with the reality of the mining operation,” Cameron said.

“Value is added when data feeding is automated and occurs in near real-time.”

Mine managers can analyse data to improve productivity through monitoring production, ancillary, plant and shipping equipment.

“BHP Billiton has been using Maptek technology to monitor production and provide customised reporting at its underground operations in the Illawarra. Dendrobium, West Cliff, and Appin have been using MineSuite technology since 2001,” Cameron said.

Illawarra Coal’s Douglas project, about 30 km northwest of Wollongong, has used the technology for monitoring and coal production since 2006.

“Standardisation of equipment, events, and delays reported mean that consistent information is available from all sites using the technology,” Cameron said.

“The system can be used across mining operations, and can also be configured to meet the reporting and monitoring needs of staff on specific sites,” he said.

Cameron said data collection technology is being used across sites, including minerals handling and preparation plants.

“For example, attributes considered might be estimated metres for development units, or reliability for longwall operations,” Cameron said.

“Production information from centralised databases can be fed into the combined weekly production report, providing up-to-date information for site-wide and corporate decision making,” he said.

“Management can view production details in a way that is relevant to their needs.”

Data collection technology is said to minimise human error as a factor in information input, and most technology is compatible with existing mine communications infrastructure.

“Maptek’s latest generation of commercial off-the-shelf hardware communicates over standards based WLAN systems, leaky feeder, and fibre cell technology,” he said.

Cameron said the biggest attraction for underground hard rock mines using data mining technology was an underground mapping interface.

“Control operators can keep track of every piece of equipment including longwalls, continuous miners, conveyors, bins, shafts and environmental monitoring systems. This information can be displayed in full-screen modes, similar to gaming interfaces,” he said.

“Information collected in real time will remain with the equipment selected so that replays of events can be interrogated. Information accessed can include location of equipment, tonnes, fuel usage, and gear selection.”

Cameron said Maptek was developing technology to perform more data mining tasks, like online analytical data processing (OLAP).

“Planned upgrades of the technology include implementing Java 6 programming to improve performance and integration with Windows desktop software,” he said.

“Integrating technology with third party reporting tools and real-time dashboards is also on the development horizon, to integrate seamless workflow with existing mine operation systems.”

Cameron said feedback from BHP Billiton will ensure that future developments of data mining technology are in line with the needs of those at the coalface.

Key contact:

James Cameron


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