“Continuous improvement in data management processes, software and solutions is a key aspect of easing the labour shortage issue we are currently seeing”

Viv Preston, maxgeo’s Managing Director, explains.

Even before Coronavirus struck the mining industry, skilled labour shortages were forecast in many parts of the world. A 2019 report by the Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) says 20,767 more mining workers will be needed in the next five years. Meanwhile, according to a report released by The Mining Association of Canada in early 2020, Canada’s mining industry will need to hire 79,680 new workers over the next decade.  Part of the issue in Canada is the high proportion of current workers expected to retire in the next few years.

Necessity is the mother of invention and Viv Preston, Managing Director of maxgeo has observed that when labour is short, industry seeks innovative ways to do more work with fewer people.

“Many of our clients are telling me they are having problems finding the right people for the job. COVID-19 has exacerbated the skills shortage. I may not be able to help find a ‘FIFO fieldie’, but maxgeo’s hosted data management solution, with numerous automated processes, can reduce the amount of time jobs take, so that one pair of hands can do more”, Viv said.

For example, after a field geologist has spent all day with the drill crew, labelling samples and recording drillhole data in LogChief, when they come back to the office they can upload all that data into their central database at the click of a few buttons.

Nathan Sexton, a geologist at NTM Gold, uploads his data every night.

“Getting our drilling data onto our database instantaneously now saves me up to half an hour each day. If there’s a minor change I need to make, I can just make it quickly and upload my data, then check on the DataShed5 interface that it has gone through”, Nathan explained.

Automating the upload of data from one maxgeo product to another is one thing, but what about when you can automate the data from a third-party product? For example, geologists who use the Reflex Gyro Sprint -IQ  downhole survey tool, can now integrate the data from IMDEXHUB-IQ into DataShed via an API. John Walsh, Senior Mine Geologist at Norton Gold Fields, believes that the automatic integration saves him about three hours per week.

“The solution to our previous drillhole survey data flow has been a big change for the better because once I’ve approved the surveys in IMDEXHUB-IQ™, the API synchronises them to DataShed automatically. No more downloading, reformatting and uploading files”, John said.

These and other drilling and sampling process automations are really starting to pay dividends.

“They say that when making a data-based decision, people tend to spend 20% of their time simply finding the right data. With drilling and sampling programs such as grade control, you need to be able to make decisions quickly, so having quality data available at your fingertips can save a lot of time”, Viv said.

maxgeo’s Auto Assay Loader can load assay results directly from an email file into DataShed5, where the Assay Manager automatically assesses the quality of the results against a defined QAQC policy. When the senior geologist needs to decide where the next drilling program will be, their data is ready and available to them.

At some sites, the need for a geologist to perform database administration tasks takes them away from work they could be doing in the field or mine. maxgeo’s hosted clients don’t have this problem, because as part of the hosted data management solution they have access to an expert DBA whenever they need one. Meanwhile, their own staff can focus on the business of drilling and sampling.

“Continuous improvement in data management processes, software and solutions is a key aspect of easing the labour shortage issue we are currently seeing”, Viv concluded.

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