News & Blog

Location Intelligence for Mining and Exploration
10 Aug, 2011 - Lachlan James

Location, location, location! The catch-cry made famous by the real estate industry has never been more aptly applied than to business data (see our blog The Benefits of Location Intelligence: You’re in real estate, didn’t you know?).

Various research firms, including the IDC, state that over 80 percent of enterprise data has a location component. Therefore, the need for any modern Business Intelligence (BI) solution to have robust Location Intelligence (LI) capabilities is obvious.

LI, the combination of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and BI, allows you to analyze, visualize and understand the relationships between geographic data and other metrics.

But LI isn’t just useful and applicable to traditional man-made assets and infrastructure. For players in the mining and exploration industry, knowing the location of raw resources in relation to infrastructure and available manpower is of paramount importance. Most companies involved in the minerals game already utilize GIS components to capture, analyze, manage and present geographically significant information. However, more can be done, as these organizations continue to purchase more assets, and therefore obtain more location-based information, inadvertently producing siloed stores of spatial data via a range of operational systems. Broadly speaking, LI software can assist organizations in the minerals, exploration and mining sector to:
  • Collate relevant data types
  • Analyze the impacts of real-world activities to identify trends
  • Create meaningful reports to add/drive business value
  • Manage operations

8 ways Location Intelligence can be utilized in mining and exploration

Mineral exploration requires and utilizes a diverse range of data types and techniques, including satellite and geophysical images, geologic maps and a plethora of databases. LI functionality within a BI platform can incorporate and utilize these varying information sources, converting and presenting that information in usable and meaningful forms, capable of providing significant insight and adding considerable business value.

Over its lifecycle, a mining exploration generates a huge amount of spatially significant data. LI, a component of modern BI solutions, (for a definition see our blog Defining Location Intelligence), can assist organizations working in the mining and exploration industry to:
  1. Monitor assets: Mining corporations have a large number of assets and infrastructure dispersed over vast areas. Monitoring the location of equipment in relation to active sites and maintenance facilities will enable organizations to answer critical questions, such as:
    1. Is there sufficient equipment nearby to undertake a specific project (If not, how long will it take to get there, and at what expense)?
    2. Where is the equipment that is scheduled for service – when and how can it be moved/accessed for maintenance to create minimum disruption?
  2. Track sub-surface infrastructure: Monitoring the location and usage of beneath ground equipment ensures efficient, safe and optimal performance.
  3. Monitor, track and assess the availability of staff: Mining companies employee a huge number of staff, many of whom are employed on a shift or block roster basis. Keeping up-to-date with their availability and location, relative to specific project sites, is critical.
  4. Monitor Competitors: Track the location of competitor assets, resources and infrastructure to determine their capacity to compete for contracts and new sites.
  5. Monitor the environmental impacts of exploration and mining activities: Observing environmental standards, practices and legislation is essential and non-negotiable.
  6. Establish the location of hazardous materials: Mitigating risk in this potentially dangerous industry is a top priority.
  7. Monitor work-related incidents and establish appropriate OH & S protocols: Understanding the logistics of operations in relation to the proximity of medical services and staff is necessary to form effective emergency response protocols. Additionally, being able to track the frequency and location of safety incidents can reveal patterns and help uncover unsafe work practices.
  8. Compare pre-approved sites with geographic phenomena, features and obstacles: Compare areas pre-approved for exploration, clearing or mining with topographical maps, comprising such features as contours, roads, and rivers, to determine accessibility and help calculate transport and other logistical expenditures.

Enterprise GIS have the ability to help organizations involved in mining and exploration streamline operational efficiencies by averting risk and saving time. However, much of this location-based information, capable of delivering significant benefits, is dispersed across many different information systems. A BI solution with robust LI capabilities can pull this information together to uncover hidden trends, relationships, risks and opportunity.

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