Australasian Mining Review

Australasian Mining Review Summer 2011

Australasian Mining Review

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Page 83 of 151

80 Maximising capabilities of Geographic Information Systems M ining, by its very nature, is based on location. Spatial (location- related) data used in the industry includes information typically seen on a map, such as contours, roads and rivers plus the location of infrastructure and plants (both planned and as-built), mine plans and the location of equipment – both fixed and mobile. The knowledge of where resources and infrastructure lie is critical to the successful operation of all mining companies. Many of the operational systems used in the resources industry rely on location-related data. Unfortunately, many of these operational systems produce silos of spatial data – data that is often difficult to access and extract despite the very critical role some of the data might play in other systems in the mine lifecycle. Despite the key role that location plays, most mining companies do not exploit their spatial data to anywhere near its complete potential. While Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used by most mining companies as one of many tools to meet exploration or environmental and heritage requirements, the use of GIS in the resources industry often does not extend much further than this. However this situation is changing. More mining companies are increasingly looking to exploit the capabilities of location intelligence to capitalise on the ever increasing amount of location-related data generated, held and purchased by mining companies. GIS and location intelligence Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enable the capturing, managing, analysing and displaying of all forms of geographically referenced information. A GIS is an information system, and unlike many of the operational systems, it is designed not only for the management and storage of spatial information but, most importantly, the delivery and analysis of this location based information. The intelligence derived from this location based information adds a whole new dimension to the decision making process. While its role as an operational system should not be underrated, the key role of GIS in the resources industry is its capacity as a critical information management platform to serve corporate- wide business requirements and systems. In the resources sector, GIS is increasingly being seen as an environment for the delivery and analysis of information integrated from different operational systems – returning improved efficiencies in workflow and risk mitigation. In the various phases of the life of a mine from exploration to closure, considerable spatial data is generated and used for a variety of different purposes. This data is developed in a number of different systems. These range from CAD systems that are used in the design of plant and infrastructure, to mine planning systems used for designing and detailing how the ore body is to be mined. What is particularly important in the mining business is the distinction between: • The software designed to meet a particular purpose (technical system) such as a Mine Planning System or a Plant Design System which generates, manages and uses spatial data; and • GIS software. A GIS is designed as an information system that delivers information and data as required. A GIS is designed to not only capture, manage, analyse and portray spatial data in the form of a map view, but has the capacity and capability to manage considerable amounts of attribute data that may be pertinent to the location of the features represented by the spatial data. These include the identification of the features, such as the road name or tenement number, and extend to related documents, drawings, and photographs that may be important to the business. Despite spatial data being a valuable asset in both investment and potential business advantage, it is generally extremely hard to get at because it resides in different business and system silos. The role of GIS lies in extending the use of spatial data beyond purely the technical systems (such as Mine Planning) to providing a platform of spatial information that supports the wider mining business throughout the mine life. This business includes the management of land, tenements and leases, environment, heritage, and asset maintenance planning and extends to supporting emergency response measures. The challenge for the mining industry is to provide ready access to this spatial data such that it can be used more widely across the

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