Alberto Ramírez
Branch Manager for Mexico and the Caribbean
Maptek
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Insight

Helping the Mining Industry Step into the Future

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 13:19

Technology plays a key role in the mining industry. State of the art software is part of every stage of the mining activity: from exploration to planning, operation and production. Nevertheless, on an international level the Mexican mining industry is experiencing a lag in  this area. “The sector is mostly behind in technical issues compared to mining industries in other countries,” says Alberto Ramírez, Maptek Branch Manager for Mexico and the Caribbean. “Many companies are still working with traditional 2D printed maps. They still have not realized all of the benefits that acquiring 3D software brings.”

With over 30 years of experience, Maptek provides 3D modeling, spatial analysis and design technology to the sector. The Australian company decided to venture into the Mexican market in 2005, opening an office in Cancun, which also served as a gateway to the Caribbean. The first two years were focused on gaining the sector’s trust. “Thanks to Maptek’s global recognition, by 2006 the first investments slowly started coming in. Those first clients were our main marketing strategy to encourage other companies to look towards our products,” Ramírez recalls. “We used the experience of working in Chile, Peru and Brazil, among other countries, and considered adapting our products to local requirements, always providing high quality tech support. It was not very difficult adapting to the market because we already had the experience of entering the Chilean market; the only variable to consider was the time companies in Mexico needed in order to acknowledge our work.”

Maptek has two signature types of software: Vulcan and I-Site. Vulcan is a general mine planning software package that provides 3D modular software visualizations for geological modeling and mine design and planning. I-Site is a complete software and hardware 3D laser survey technology. “Vulcan is a product that enables mining companies to grow and develop. I-Site is a high quality, high resolution product, which means a bigger investment for companies. This is the reason why it is used as widely, even though it also gives great benefits,” Ramírez explains. During the exploration stage Vulcan makes it easier for geologists to determine the amount of resources the deposit has. As part of the technological support the company provides, a team of engineers and geologists, located in Denver or Chile, is available to help the clients. The team is available online or, 

if required, they can go the mine site. If the client needs to create a new development or option in the software Maptek is open to considering these additional changes.

During the planning stage Chronos, a module of Vulcan that helps in determining the mine schedule, comes in very handy. It works within an object-oriented spreadsheet environment to store, manipulate and report mine production information on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis, as well as how much is going to be extracted and how it can be optimized with the available resources. “The best way to extract the resources depends on what type of mine it is. Vulcan allows the user to develop tasks, telling them how much will be produced throughout the life of the mine, depending on the equipment being used. The system automatically optimizes, offering immediate benefits,” Ramírez says. “Considering different variables such as cost, price, discount rate, and optimization can be simple or complex, depending on each client’s needs. The main objective is to provide information on the maximum benefits that will be obtained, according to the information available on a certain deposit. If new studies are done the quality of the data improves and the system is automatically updated, to provide the maximum benefit. The financial side of a mine operation always has to be taken into account, as well as the desired profitability when a very large investment is made.”

An example of the company’s continuous product improvement can be found in BlastLogic, an accuracy management system that streamlines processes in open cut drill and blasting operations to improve mineral recovery. Ramírez explains that Maptek delivers tools for designing and planning open pit and underground mining operations, including making drilling design diagrams and determining the amount of explosive used to exploit a deposit.

Given how long the company has been working in Mexico, Ramírez considers Maptek to be well positioned in the market. Gaining a greater market share presents challenges: “Our goal is to provide our clients with great software that allows engineers and geologists to develop their tasks in an easy and simple way, while offering high quality technology and customer support, and other consulting services, and this is a complicated task. However, as I mentioned, innovation is a crucial element of our growth strategy, and Maptek is always developing new technologies. We have research and development teams in Denver, Chile and Australia that are constantly searching for new products and making improvements on existing ones, based on the feedback we get from our clients.”