EMEA Senior Data Management Consultant, Philip Setzer provides insight on how diamond miners use data to facilitate their operations.
2021 has been a year of record diamond finds in Southern Africa; a recently unearthed stone from Botswana weighed in at 1174 carats, eclipsing June’s still-impressive 1098-carat find in the same area.
With the eyes of the world on the region, EMEA Senior Data Management Consultant, Philip Setzer, provides some insight on how diamond miners use data to facilitate their operations.
“There are a few things that diamond producers usually want from their data,” Philip explains. “In essence, they want to take drilling and sampling data and put it into a structure where it can be securely stored and made available to all who need it to make decisions in real time.” maxgeo’s Diamond Model database structure accommodates the unique requirements of diamond miners.
Diamond producers need geological data – including rock type and other basic logging information – to be easily accessible to users in a range of different roles. In the early exploration stages, the data is extracted for modelling, resource calculations and site assessment work. This processed information then goes to mine planners and other decision-makers.
One client approached maxgeo because they needed to replace their existing database, a legacy piece of in-house software that was no longer meeting requirements. Philip conducted an extensive site visit to get a handle on the diamond producer’s processes and understand the gaps in the current data management system.
“Luckily, I have a background in the diamond industry, so that came in pretty handy,” he laughs.
“There’s also the geotechnical functionality,” adds Philip. In addition to the geological, dilution and sampling data that gets collected by diamond producers, geotechnical data requires more detail on the discontinuities like fractures, joints, bedding, rock quality designation, and groundwater conditions.
The main purpose of geotechnical data is to inform the mine design. The logging of drillholes gathers various geotechnical input parameters associated with the engineering properties of the rock mass. Aside from wanting to mine safely and effectively, one of the client’s key goals was to understand the properties of the material that they are mining. The basic process involves crushing ore into chunks and then transporting the ore on a conveyor, then identifying and separating the diamonds using a combination of air jets and lasers.
To facilitate this, Philip and the maxgeo team put together an interface in LogChief allowing the client to input geotechnical parameters that are logged from the drill holes in the field to quantify the ground quality. “We need to set the desired inputs and identify the specific algorithms required to deliver the right output. For ground quality, it’s Q, RMR, RMi and so on, but these will vary depending on the process.” This data will then be extracted by the client and put through a modelling package to look at ground conditions and various mining and rock support designs.
Once the new software is in place, the goal is to simplify the processes going forward, enabling the client to use fewer inputs and receive more relevant outputs. The end result is a more flexible, efficient system that adds value at every stage.
Diamond Geologists are Specialised
There is a very good reason for diamond geologists to be highly specialised in their environment; it is because, unlike their metalliferous counterparts, diamonds occur and are extracted from the earth in more than one way. These being hard-rock mining, both underground and open-pit, as well as alluvial and marine placer mining. Hard-rock diamond geologists are faced with trying to determine the distribution of the product in a vertical ore-body that is typically extensive in area and volume. It is the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack scenario. Further, the various indicator minerals that occur in kimberlite are often studied and recorded in minute detail in an attempt to better predict diamond distribution within the orebody and thus quantify the potential grade of any given ore block. Further, the identification of various kimberlite facies will also determine the mining plan given certain facies of the host rock do not contain diamonds at all or are notoriously difficult to process. The very composition of kimberlite rock is closely studied to ensure optimum plant performance. Therefore, tight controls for the capture of and management of all this very specific data are a necessity in the hard-rock sector of the diamond mining industry.
As a result of these challenges, maxgeo has, in conjunction with our diamond client partners, steadily built a diamond-focused data management solution to efficiently capture and manage this very specialised data as well as take into account the unique sampling practices used by diamond geologists. Not only has maxgeo deployed our solution on-premise, but some of our clients have also opted to use our hosted data management solution to great effect demonstrating that the diamond-focused solution is suited to an internal network environment but also to a cloud environment by outsourcing their data management to grow their business.
We cover all facets of your diamond exploration and mining activities and our diamond data management solution is designed specifically for the business of diamond exploration and mining.
With offices in Australia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, maxgeo is able to provide industry-specific services to exploration and mining operations the world over. Contact your nearest office to learn how we can help you.