Mining workshop focuses on geospatial management issues

June 27th, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT


Esri South Africa and Aciel Geomatics hosted a mining workshop on 18 June at the Blue Valley Golf Estate in Midrand. Surveyors, mine planners, geologists, geotechnicians, MRM system managers, environmental specialists, draughtspersons, and ventilation and safety mine officials attended the event to learn more about geospatial solutions for the mining industry.

Kick-starting the event was Charl Retief who spoke about Esri’s ArcGIS for Mining platform and how it can be used to resolve the constant tension in mining operations between planning and actual execution.  He explained how the software can be used to improve operational insights and analysis, and to accelerate information turnaround times by erasing departmental silos. Retief added that ArcGIS for Mining Modules are aligned with business functionality and that apps are available inside the modules to ensure that everyone on a mine can discover, use, make and shape maps on any device, anywhere at any time. To illustrate this several 5-minute presentations were provided during the course of the day to highlight ArcGIS for Mining’s operational value to the mining sector.


Richard Kaufholz (Esri South Africa), Nick Stead (OSIsoft), Charl Retief (Esri South Africa), Bill Feast (Spatial Dimension) and Dave Borman (University of the Witwatersrand).

Following on from this Helgardt van Heerden from Aciel Geomatics, co-hosts of the workshop, provided some details on his company stating that it is the only authorised Leica dealer and service centre in Southern Africa. He explained that Aciel Geomatics has a dedicated monitoring team looking after 14 mining sites with prism and GPS monitoring as well as sites where aboveground and underground sensors operate in a linked monitoring network. Van Heerden then provided delegates with details on the functionality of the Leica Nova MultiStation 50, Leica’s GNSS modernisation strategy involving a replaceable GPS chip to future-proof its equipment against the latest GNSS enhancements, and a glimpse at possible future developments.

One of the highlights of the day was Dave Borman’s presentation on the University of the Witwatersrand’s Digital Mine Project.  Borman stated that the university is working to prove that it is possible to run a mine like a factory with all information required to run a safe operation being available at the touch of a button via real-time mapping of the ever-changing infrastructure and a data dashboard control mechanism providing simultaneous graphical, chart and textural information. He outlined the current thinking on the project  saying that there is a danger of data overload and that a solid GIS will be essential to share the data from various sources e.g. rock mechanics, geologists, production and management officials. The ultimate aim of the project, he said, is to provide mine managers with real-time information on their mining operations to enable dynamic real-time management with a profitable outcome.

Another interesting presentation was one from industry consultant Alex Bals who spoke about the future of draughting in the context of enabling a survey department to turn into a geospatial information office for the mine. He explained that this required a paradigm shift with data being created and captured for the purpose of being effectively used as a foundation to integrate data from various disciplines, unlock useful information, provide multi-disciplinary visualisation and analysis, facilitate seamless dissemination, and enable geographically empowered decision-making. Bals added that draughting will retain some importance as mines have compliance issues that need to be met but that it needs to be borne in mind that as the mining environment becomes more complex and dependent on the efficient execution of projects, the future lies in the effective management of quality controlled, attributed geospatial data.

Following on from this was a presentation by Johan Erasmus from Aciel Geomatics who spoke about his company’s approach to deformation monitoring, the types of monitoring services available and the product portfolio. He emphasised that his company builds specific monitoring solutions to meet the specific monitoring needs of its clients. Rudolph de Munnik from Esri South Africa also explained how GeoMos monitoring data can be brought into the ArcGIS for Mining system to facilitate effective monitoring management.

Next Etienne Labuschagne from Esri South Africa spoke about the return on investment of UAVs and how they fit in with the ArcGIS for Mining platform. He outlined the different types of UAVs, their payloads, and the pros and cons of utilising them for aerial data capturing. He warned users against intruding into civil air space and explained that the geospatial industry needs the regulatory guidelines regarding the utilisation of UAVs in South Africa to be finalised.

Miranda Muller from AngloGold Ashanti spoke on integrated sustainability management and how GIS  is used in this process.  She detailed how her company co-exists within the context of complex environmental settings, community infrastructure and demands as well as competing land uses, and outlined how GIS is used to manage this complexity  by creating a system that integrates multi-disciplinary data and information. Muller explained how her company has used GIS to manage resettlement issues, artisanal and small scale miners encroaching on their mining concession, environmental compliance, site suitability analysis for new infrastructure locations, and closure planning.

Other presentations included one from Bill Feast of Spatial Dimension who spoke about his company’s FlexiCadastre product and how it is used by mining companies around the world to manage risk and ensure compliance in meeting their mining licence requirements and obligations.  Gary Lane from Cyest Technology spoke about spatial performance diagnostics and how integrating advanced modelling analysis into a GIS environment can assist managers to understand the underlying causes of performance variances.  And Nick Stead from OSIsoft spoke about real time integrated enterprise information and how his company’s PI System , working in combination with the ArcGIS platform, enables enterprises to understand and share critical asset data.

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