A 3D image of growth

The expansion of Olympic Dam has helped put the South Australian mining industry on the map.

The expansion of Olympic Dam has helped put the South Australian mining industry on the map.

Located in the State’s far north, Olympic Dam is the world’s largest uranium deposit, the fourth largest remaining copper deposit and the fifth largest gold deposit.

Currently in its pre-feasibility stage, the BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Expansion (ODX) project team needed an innovative software system that could save them time and money.

Maptek’s Vulcan technology was brought on board to assist in geotechnical investigations and geology resource modelling.

Using Vulcan technology, the team was able to generate a single model of the Olympic Dam orebody.

Because all the data is integrated in Vulcan, site geologists were not only able to build the single resource model, they were also able to test its robustness as new data became available.

Although not strictly speaking a new technology, the Vulcan software has taken advantage of new technology and has, therefore, progressed rapidly over the last few years.

Olympic Dam initiated the introduction of multi-threading into Vulcan software, providing significant time savings for the large number of resource estimations required for such a large project.

Maptek Australian sales manager Steve Sullivan told Australian Mining that Vulcan has the ability to support the whole gamut of mining functionality from exploration activities through surveying, geology, short and long term mine planning to rehabilitation.

“Vulcan technology provides a common platform that everyone can use,” he said.

“Olympic Dam is one of, if not, the largest mineral deposits in Australia.

“Vulcan can cope with huge amounts of unrelated data, bring it together in the one environment for analysis in the right context, which allows the best possible understanding of the project,” Sullivan said.

Vulcan manages, analyses, validates and interpolates data beneath the ground.

The graphics technology provides a three-dimensional visual understanding of what is beneath the surface.

Vulcan technology is currently employed by mining companies the world over. Sullivan said the benefits were immense.

“Vulcan technology helps mining companies simplify their workflow,” he said.

“The software has a lot of technical information and processes ingrained in it. It helps the experienced user work at speed and it has a mentoring ability to help the novice work through the technology in an easy to understand, sequential order.”

Within Vulcan, the diverse array of applications on a minesite are integrated into a singular modular software system.

Exploration geologists, resource geologists, surveyors and planning and production engineers all use the same project data and the same software.

“Often, three or four software packages are used, which then need to be interfaced before collaboration could occur,” Sullivan said.

In the Olympic Dam expansion project, the geotechnical team uses Vulcan to manage the large volume of collected structural measurements.

Fixed imagery collected via a downhole televiewer is imported into Vulcan and wrapped around drillholes, allowing geotechnical staff to map and define the orientation of downhole structures.

This information is then stored in a Vulcan geotechnical database for modelling important features.

Vulcan’s attribute linking feature allows geologists to click on a drillhole trace on screen to show the original core photography, adding another dimension to the site database.

The use of Vulcan in the resource study has produced a high quality mineral resource estimate to pass to the mine planning engineers for the mine development phase of the expansion project.

About Maptek


Maptek is a global company that has been developing 3D software and hardware for more than 25 years, helping mining companies make the most of their data.

Maptek is also the proud sponsor of 5th Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards Explorer of the Year category. The category rewards companies that have made discoveries or significantly extended known deposits by innovatively reinterpreting data or by using new data, technology, processes or techniques.

Entries are now open.

Steve Sullivan


Australian Sales Manager







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