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HxGN RADIOPodcast

A Better Way to Plan Your Mine

An introduction to the improved HxGN MinePlan, which helps mines to develop, refine, and implement an optimized workflow that saves time and effort while giving stakeholders a complete picture of a mine’s value and potential. 

BK: Welcome to HxGN RADIO. My name is Brian. Thanks for joining us today! We have Ian Blumel, product manager with Hexagon Mining, with us to discuss how mines can improve their planning workflows. Thanks for joining us, Ian. Appreciate it.

IB: Yeah, thanks for having me.

BK: Absolutely. So, a quick overview of what we’re going to be talking about: some mines are still conducting their planning with general-purpose CAD solutions without the benefits of 3D visualisation. Millions of dollars are potentially going unrealised because of inadequate mine design techniques. HxGN MinePlan helps mines to develop, refine, and implement an optimised workflow that saves time and effort while giving stakeholders a complete picture of a mine’s value and potential. So, Ian, let’s talk about the risks for mines. What are they? For example, the mines that are still using the general-purpose CAD solutions for their planning. What are some of those risks?

IB: Yeah, for sure. So, you’ve got one thing in a mine and that’s the material that’s in the ground, and once you’ve extracted that, it’s done. So, it’s very difficult to go back and extract that mine material again. And if you’re doing an inadequate design, you could potentially leave millions of dollars behind in the mine that you can’t get at. And if you’re using tools like Excel and AutoCAD to do that, these are general-purpose tools that aren’t well-designed for mining. And so, getting the visualisation and the proper knowledge of the mine design presented to the stakeholders, as well as having the tools that make the process of building a mine design correctly, becomes difficult when you’re using these kinds of tools built for CAD design and the manufacturing world. And Excel – you know, everybody can compute the reserves or how much material you might have available in your mine using Excel. It’s doable, but it becomes risky. Excel spreadsheets, you know, they’re fragile, they’re difficult to maintain. Somebody – one expert leaves your organisation and it’s very hard to work with, whereas with MinePlan, doing this kind of calculation, that’s built into our – into our backbone of our entire product.

BK: Sure, sure.

IB: So, it becomes very straightforward for you to put it together without having to do a lot of detailed work.

BK: That’s great. So how does MinePlan help to solve – I mean, you’ve touched on some of this, but –

IB: Yeah.

BK: – let’s talk some specific issues.

IB: Yeah. So, you know, with mine data, it’s complex and dynamic data that you have to work with. And you know, AutoCAD or all these CAD tools, are working with simple data, building tables, building screws, building car engines, stuff like that. But mine data, geological data, is very, very complicated because Mother Earth is not straightforward.

BK: Yeah.

IB: Right. So that’s one thing that we have – we have top-line 3D visualisation on our product. We don’t rely on a lot of 3D third-party tools. We really work hard to make sure this is specialised to work with mine data. And when we put the tools together in mine – in our MinePlan portfolio, they’re designed for doing CAD work in the mine. So, when you have tools that are helping you do all those typical design work or the typical geological resourcing work, you save a lot of time and steps. You’re not working on workarounds that you might work with a CAD tool.

BK: Okay, excellent. Now who are the people that most benefit from the solution?

IB: Yeah, so, the mine engineers who are responsible for designing the mine, and the mine geologists who are responsible for determining the mine resources. Those – those are your two big groups that will benefit from this product. And anybody that’s looking for a better way of doing their job with a tool that’s built – purpose-built for mine engineering and mine – mine geology.

BK: Okay.

IB: So, you’re looking for ways to work with your product that’s quicker than working with – maybe you bought a – you bought a product that was at a lower price point, and you thought, “Okay, yeah, that’ll get the job done,” but you don’t realise the amount of time you spend afterwards. After you use it, you might spend 40 hours working on it, whereas we have the tools that will help you get it done in an hour or 30 minutes. So, all that time saved allows you to do more with less time that you have available.

BK: So, time savings which is great. You know, that’s a huge efficiency cost and all that, you know, for the actual mine itself is fantastic.

IB: Yeah, and you can get more – more problems solved –

BK: Yeah.

IB: – in the same amount of time, right. So, you’re not – you’re not working around trying to get – trying to spend your time working around a general-purpose tool.

BK: Sure, sure. Okay, excellent! Love that. Now, lot of technology vendors out there, I’m assuming. What distinguishes MinePlan from other solutions?

IB: Yeah. So, I touched on this a couple of minutes ago, but you know, we don’t use third-party vendors for our 3D visualisation. We invested heavily to build a 3D visualisation tool set that’s high-performance and designed specifically for mine data. You do not find issues with our data sets at all in terms of our graphics performance. So that’s a huge win. And we have some of the world-class ability to work with solids and surfaces, and our data, to sort of match them together and build new volumes or new surfaces. And this is really important because your mine is always changing. You have a dynamic terrain, and you always want to know what’s the latest surface, what’s my latest topography from my mine. Or, you know, how much ore did I just take out … and these are all volumetric data that you want to find out. Ours work the quickest and are the most accurate out there in the market. So, it’s a really big benefit to getting results. Some take – you don’t want to spend hours doing that kind of work.

BK: Absolutely.

IB: You want to spend minutes.

BK: Yeah.

IB: And a real big benefit of our product also is that MinePlan 3D, it’s part of a larger portfolio of products, so this – you might step into it with MinePlan 3D, but then you might want to step further and start doing more detailed geological analysis, or you might want to do some geostatistical analysis, or you want to start working on getting your optimal mine schedule – both medium- or long-term or short-term. All those are available and would just add on and grow into your portfolio. So, you don’t have to jump into it, you know, the whole product line in one step. You can be introduced here with MinePlan 3D, do some basic efficiencies that help with your mine. And as you seek more opportunities to increase your mine efficiency, we are there to help you, and that will just plug in with this particular product.

BK: Good. So, integration as they go essentially, is necessary.

IB: Yeah, with the planning tool. And then the last thing that we were really happy about, that we just released this spring, is we have virtual reality completely integrated into MinePlan 3D. So unlike other products out there, our virtual reality is part of the actual MinePlan 3D product. You don’t have to export your data off to another product or another vendor in order to get the virtual reality. So, this allows you to explore potential with the data that you are working with in the mine. And we’re working with our customers to find out different ways that we want to use virtual reality for helping to improve the mine design. So, we’ve had a long history of working in the 2D screen world. Now this virtual reality is … you’re walking around in your mine design. This is a whole new approach and we’re excited to be able to do that directly in the product itself.

BK: That’s great. Now I know you’re involved in the development as well, obviously with that, and solutions have been around for a long time. So, talk a little bit about the history of development and where it’s used.

IB: Yeah. So, similar to AutoCAD, MinePlan did pioneer the whole 3D visualisation and CAD organisation mining applications. We were one of the first there. So, we have a long history of understanding our customers and a lot of knowledge about how to best work in this environment. And throughout this development process, we’ve learned how to bring, you know, a stable product to the market … how to work with our customers to develop the tools that fit their needs. And that’s been our main goal year after year with this product.

BK: Good. What’s been some of the feedback from the customers?

IB: Very positive.

BK: Good. That’s always good!

IB: Yeah, that’s a bonus.

BK: Yeah.

IB: You know, there are customers that especially … when they’re transitioning from this general-purpose tool … that discover the joys of working with a tool built to solve their problems, right. And it really increases the efficiency at their mine. And, like I said, we’re always working with our customers. That’s our number-one goal here.

BK: Yeah.

IB: You know, we just – we just launched an initiative recently, feedback.hexagonmining.com, where our customers can directly engage with us.

BK: Great.

IB: – And vote up issues that are problems that they have … a community that we’re building up to even increase the direct flexibility. So, one-on-one conversations with the customers, we have lots of those too, right. But we can’t talk to everybody at the same time, just not enough hours in the day. But providing this community in a forum where our customers can work together to help us really hone in on the feedback that matters.

BK: That’s great.

IB: It’s been really beneficial.

BK: Well they always say that, you know, if you want to know exactly what to create, listen.

IB: Yes!

BK: Your customers speak, you know?

IB: Yeah, yes.

BK: They tell you what you need.

IB: Yes, less guessing and more listening. Yeah.

BK: And specifically, too, which is great.

IB: Yeah.

BK: Well, where do you see MinePlan developing in the future? How do you see that all coming together?

IB: Yeah, like we touched on there, we have the integration happening with the scheduling, and you can build a whole portfolio, but Hexagon Mining is a very, very large portfolio of solutions unto itself – beyond just planning for your mine design. So, tying and unlocking that data that’s tied away in different little places at the mine, even outside of Hexagon Mining, and tying it all together and bringing it into one spot, that’s really what we’re working hard on … giving you that ability to utilise all that information to make important decisions. And people are being asked to do more with less. We all are.

BK: Of course, yeah. Yeah.

IB: No matter who we are. And so, we’re trying to – we’re working hard to develop new tools that help design the mine faster and help automate that standard best practices for your organisation. So, often your organisation will have established this – this process that works well. How can we automate that process? How can I roll that process out to my other mines, or my other employees … in a standardised way that’s auditable and accountable for the organisation? That’s really an important aspect that we feel we want to work with our customers. We want to get them from, you know, 15 clicks to two clicks to one click, right –

BK: Sure.

IB: – to solve the problem. Right. Because we want to close that gap between the time that you have that problem and get to that answer.

BK: Excellent. Alright, well, thank you very much, Ian. I appreciate this great information! Anything else you want to share before we head out?

IB: No, that’s great.

BK: OK. Well, very exciting.

IB: All right. Thank you!

BK: Yes! For more information, go to hexagonmining.com. You can check out all this information and more that we just talked about. And of course, you can continue to listen to additional episodes of HxGN RADIO. Head over to HxGNSPOTLIGHT.com. And thank you so much for being a part of our episode today. Have a great day.

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