Three ways to build an integrated mining technology portfolio

This year we recognized Fresnillo PLC as our Hexagon Honoree at HxGN LIVE 2019. Here is what you can learn from Fresnillo to integrate your technology portfolio for mine planning, operations, enterprise, and survey and monitoring needs.

1. Recognize challenges across the industry and research available solutions

Fresnillo is no stranger to the mining industry. Its flagship Fresnillo silver mine has been in operation for more than 500 years and is still the largest silver mine in the world. It is also Mexico’s leading gold producer. So how has Fresnillo been so successful sustaining its operations?

“To be competitive in this mining market, we had to look into technologies that allow us to achieve safety, productivity and cost,” said Baldomero Gutierrez, chief information officer at Fresnillo. “We went around and tried out different technologies for these mining processes and we looked at Hexagon.”

Like a city lit up at night, Fresnillo's Herradura Mine uses Hexagon's collision avoidance solutions as well as Hexagon's IDS GeoRadar monitoring solution. (Photo by Martin L Vargas/33Visual for Fresnillo plc)

Like a city lit up at night, Fresnillo’s Herradura Mine uses Hexagon’s collision avoidance solutions as well as Hexagon’s IDS GeoRadar monitoring solution. (Photo by Martin L Vargas/33Visual for Fresnillo plc)

Miners face complex challenges. We are discovering deeper ore bodies and mining at deeper depths. We are dealing with stricter safety requirements and increased energy and personnel costs. Modern mines must consider a whole range of issues to be successful.

An aerial view of Fresnillo's Herradura mine, four hours south of Tucson.

An aerial view of Fresnillo’s Herradura mine, four hours south of Tucson.

Fortunately, technologies are available to help address these issues. Use of advanced analytics and modeling, geographic information systems, automation, real-time tracking of equipment and personnel are a few ways you can leverage technology to tackle challenges from exploration to export.

2. Build realistic and achievable implementation goals

Creating an integrated portfolio for all your mining needs doesn’t happen overnight. Try starting with one mine and expand from there.

“We began looking into safety issues in our mines because safety comes first,” Gutierrez said. “We started looking at anti-collision systems that Hexagon offers, and we compared that technology to different vendors. Hexagon came ahead of them. So, we implemented that technology in our open pit operation. We are trying to move from the open pit world to the underground world with Hexagon.”

Fresnillo began by addressing safety concerns in its open pit mines. After seeing the value this technology brought, Fresnillo opted to implement digital solutions in its underground operations.

“Hexagon is working very hard to integrate all the information that comes from different mining processes,” Gutierrez said. “We like having the capability of our people to analyze all of that information. Hexagon is offering a lot of different products to easily analyze the information. We can integrate that information into reports at different levels to make decisions on a daily basis.”

The benefits of building your integrated mining technology portfolio are tremendous but getting there can seem daunting. Rolling out the implementation over phases or starting at the beginning of a new project are ways you can make this process more manageable.

3. Create a plan to manage and communicate the change

Understand that changing culture takes time and managing that change takes excellent communication with your people.

“We have to work a lot on communicating the things we are trying to accomplish,” Gutierrez said. “We have to change the culture of people. They don’t want to change the way they are doing things, but by implementing new technology you are changing how they are doing things in the mining process.”

Making mine managers accountable for the process and including unions and contractors from the beginning are ways to manage change. Honest communication with everyone involved is key. Make sure messages about the change go out to your whole organization and don’t be afraid to use several channels to deliver your message. Changing minds is all about gaining trust and being upfront from the get-go.

See the complete interview with Fresnillo CIO, Baldomero Gutierrez here.


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