Q&A: Extracting insights for miners
To gain some insights into their areas of expertise, AustMine caught up with Terry Leister, business development manager at Pronto Software, who shared his thoughts on how mining corporations can utilize technology to streamline complex business processes and make smarter decisions.
Why is technology an import component for Australian mining companies?
Mining companies are constantly drawing on best of breed technology that helps solve practical challenges around managing growth, reducing operating costs and improving production efficiencies to achieve profitability. Buzz words such as ‘cloud solutions’, ‘mobility’ and ‘data’ are not pigeonholed to particular industries, with these ‘tech terms’ also very relevant to the mining industry.
At the beginning of this year, Deloitte identified in its report, “Tracking the Trends 2015: The top 10 issues mining companies will face this year”, that miners must innovate in order to survive and technology plays a major role in fuelling innovation. Having an intuitive business management software system in place can help miners enhance business processes by providing management with the intelligence to make informed decisions.
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Choosing to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system deeply integrated with Business Intelligence (BI) technology provides managers with greater visibility and faster access to key business information across various departments. The Deloitte report notes that the mining industry is traditionally conservative when it comes to embedding innovation into a corporate strategy. Solutions suggested for combatting the ever changing and competitive landscape included: thinking big; testing small and scaling fast; leveraging emerging technologies; becoming part of an innovation ecosystem; and preparing for new operational realities. We have seen our customers in the mining sector take a courageous step and move beyond conventional business methods, in order to gain a competitive advantage.
One way a mining corporation might benefit from implementing an all-encompassing IT solution, is by utilizing the smart data that’s made available to help maintain and track equipment performance. For example, assessing data obtained from sensors attached to both fixed and mobile equipment can allow staff to predict and prevent equipment breakdowns, as well as other downtime events, significantly boosting productivity and safety. By doing so, mechanical problems can be identified before they occur, increasing accuracy, efficiency and performance on a mining site.
How does the mining sector compare to other industry sectors when it comes to embracing technology?
In an industry where information accuracy and reliability is crucial to business performance and successful execution, technology is paramount. From tracking and tagging of personnel and equipment, to monitoring, communicating and automating machinery and processes, technology is fundamental.
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Mine sites often span across vast areas, and often there are many disparate operations and separate procedures taking place, all at the one time. Having a system in place that supports each individual function on the site, whilst also provides wider management with visibility into all overarching functions is invaluable.
What does Pronto Software provide to mining companies?
Pronto Software is a software developer of next generation ERP software that integrates with advanced BI solutions. With in-built intelligence and flexibility, Pronto’s flagship product, Pronto Xi, provides mining companies with the ability to discover rich, real-time business insights, for fast and informed decision-making. For the mining industry there are particular modules that are paramount to the sector, including Financial Management (including multi-currency), Project Management and Costing, Asset Management, Maintenance Scheduling as well as Inventory Management and Planning. The software is multi-user, providing insights to anyone, anywhere – with the right information fed to the information needs of specific staff. Pronto Xi is suitable for the diverse mining industry, providing an end-to-end solution, which caters to a site that is in the exploration phase, going through the remediation of a site or aiding the entire life cycle of the project.
Who are some of Pronto Software’s mining customers benefiting from the use of technology?
Pronto Software provides a significant number of mining organizations around the world with a platform to better manage data, gain deeper insights into business operations and embrace mobility. Some of these customers include: Tribune Resources, K92 Mining, Carey Mining and Zara Mining.
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”