Desktop tools that enable mining professionals to interact with their data are the building blocks upon which Maptek innovation was founded. Almost 40 years on from the early borehole modelling tools, Maptek has this week released Vulcan 2020, featuring integrated geology and optimised mine design.

An image of the Vulcan Drillhole Optimiser. Image credit: Maptek

An image of the Vulcan Drillhole Optimiser. Image credit: Maptek

Today Vulcan is populated with functionality that provides holistic benefits to modern mining operations. These translate into increased productivity for specific applications – such as geological modelling, automated mine design and grade control – as well as improvement to the mining business in terms of cost efficiencies, where examples include drill hole optimisation and dynamic reserving.

New in Vulcan 2020, Vulcan Drillhole Optimiser helps exploration projects, open pit and underground operations to confidently develop infill drilling plans that maximise resource recovery. With Drillhole Optimiser geologists can accurately assess multiple scenarios and budgets taking into account existing drilling, locations and resource classifications. Operations see tangible results in greater orebody confidence, fewer wasted drillholes and improved cost-effectiveness.

Dynamic pit design is the goal of the Automated Pit Designer enhanced in Vulcan 2020. Engineers experience a dramatically improved pit design process, reducing the time to proceed from pit optimisation outputs to an actual pit design complete with ramps.

End of period reconciliation of volumes is now easier than ever with the updated open pit Compliance tool. Automatic comparison of multiple surfaces against solids helps planners identify how closely short and mid-term plans have been followed.

Dynamic reserving is a fast, interactive feature that displays reserve information for nominated regions on the fly. Vulcan users can get basic or advanced reports, charts and fast reserves simply by picking a solid.

According to Jesse Oldham, Maptek group product manager for mine planning, digital processes and increased automation are key enablers for future mining success.

“The focus on how effectively material is moved has well and truly shifted to technologies that help acquire, manage and process data efficiently to generate value,” says Oldham.

“The new crop of geologists and mining engineers have different expectations of the tools at their disposal,” Oldham adds. “They want to push and extend technology to the limits, using the workflows and automations to do the manual data work so they can spend their time on high-end tasks such as interpretation and analysis,” he says.

Maptek is driving a renewed focus on interoperability between applications, rather than recreating a similar capability in each product suite. This gives customers access to superior functionality that represents the most effective, productive and integrated approach to tackling a problem.

Centralised data plays a fundamental role in the digitalisation process. The greatest benefit is found in the ability to connect information to find the “signal within the noise”. The digital approach allows previously hidden data relationships to be identified and exploited.

“Our technological innovations are matched by the way we enable the use of them from anywhere. The disruption arising from Covid-19 challenged Maptek, like most organisations, to think differently,” says Oldham.

“We were well positioned to quickly enable cloud-based licensing when customer infrastructure proved inadequate,’ said Oldham. ‘One company had people stranded on the other side of the world when travel restrictions came into effect. Maptek helped them get online and fast-track access to the software they needed to work remotely.”

To ensure Maptek development strategies remain aligned with customer needs, a new Maptek Product Management structure was put in place in early 2020.

The new framework means more effective touchpoints for gathering customer feedback. It is early days, but the company is already realising the mutual benefits.