Mine Management

The new generation of Mine Management

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Since the early 1990’s, the mining industry has been facing mounting criticism relating to the impact the industry has on surrounding communities as well as the environmental impact of the mine. The ideal is a long-term availability of resources and healthy, productive mining communities living in an environment that is the same or better than, prior to mining operations. In terms of environmental sustainability, mines need to be cognisant of:

  • Management of acid-mine-drainage
  • Water treatment
  • Air purity
  • Waste disposal
  • Treatment and management of natural resources.

However, environmental impact is not the only element that mines need to be cognisant of.  For the mining industry to be recognised as holistically sustainable, it has to be both environmentally as well as socially and economically sustainable. Essentially, this means that all stakeholders of the mine need to be better off than they were before mining operations and the negative environmental impact is kept to an absolute minimum. Only then can it be described as Sustainable Mining.

The challenge then is that mines need to be financially and economically viable and sustainable, whilst ensuring that they fulfil the Sustainable Mining criteria. Ensuring that mines comply with sustainable mining guidelines can be a costly exercise. Original mine plans and budgets often experience financial variance due to exchange rate and commodity price fluctuations, unfavourable government policies, labour variation and unplanned downtime.

So how can mines remain financially viable whilst ensuring that their operations are up to standard on the peripheral variables? This is where technological advances in the mining industry can revolutionise the way that mines are managed. Having the correct information at the right time is critical for effective decision-making and with a connected set of systems, a mine can work with precision. New ERP systems are being introduced to the industry that allow the mine’s information system to exchange information gleaned from the various applications used by the mine and provide analysis of this information as required by mining personnel.

Such systems can also be reactive, with real-time data flow providing the system-generated feedback on the mine’s environmental sustainability efforts. In addition, these advanced ERP systems also allow for configurable triggers, providing alerts to mine personnel to avert avoidable environmental damage or potential health and safety issues from the mining activities, reduce costs and improve production output.

Another advantage of utilising this technology in mines is that it is flexible and dynamic, allowing it to cater to a mine’s specific business process and provide the means to review, plan and reschedule a mine’s resources so that mine planners can optimise their resource utilisation, reduce holding and operational costs, promote better HR relations and ultimately, to maintain the mines financial stability and fulfil the budgeted Mine Plan.

This generation of ERP systems are only just entering the market, and with the speed in which technology advances, the possibilities are limitless. It will allow mines to reduce risk, become both more profitable, more environmentally and socially aware.

By Rashmi Singh - Digital Marketing Strategist for Reactore Solutions

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