Big Data Analytics is now a big blip on the radar of the Mining industry. In a recent survey that included 10 of the Top 20 global mining companies, the Mining Journal said that Big Data Analytics would spur the next wave of efficiency gains in ore extraction, analysis, transportation and processing by enabling faster and better informed decisions at all levels.
In a competitive market, every effort to improve margins using operational intelligence is necessary. That is why analytics is expected to play a major role in driving better asset utilization, boost productivity, and address material flow delays.
Helping achieve this goal are sensors embedded across mining operations. These sensors are generating vast amounts of geoscientific, asset condition and operational data in real time. Improvements in Wi-Fi and 3G/ 4G-LTE speeds are enabling real-time collection of data from the extraction point right up to the final transportation of ore to plants. This data can be analyzed using massively parallel processing and faster distribution of intelligence to stakeholders.
It is possible to do this because modern Big Data platforms can assimilate vast amounts of heterogeneous, real-time inputs from multiple sources. These, in turn, extract real-time predictive and prescriptive analytics to drive operational excellence.
Big Data & Analytics Across Mining Functions
Data sources in the Mining industry may be classified as either direct or indirect (ancillary) measurements. Direct measurement sources are those taken by instruments such as conventional geodetic surveys and GPS. Indirect sources refer to systems that collect data as a by-product of processes or operations such as Fleet Management Systems, SCADA or DCS data, blast hole drills and geo modeling data.
To improve ore recovery, an ore body modeling technique is used. The model provides geological patterns that determine drill holes. The key to taking the right mining decisions is, therefore, the availability of accurate data from multiple systems combined with real-time (or near real-time) analytics (see Figure 1). These decisions can be applied to mining exploration, production and operations. They can also be used to monitor and report metrics and KPIs. Additionally, they serve to identify root causes for operational bottlenecks such as unscheduled truck maintenance delays, long queuing time of trucks and LHDs, delays in lab samples undergoing quality control and batch processing etc.