WSP Group, a certified Dassault Systèmes GEOVIA partner, is a multidisciplinary global company providing sustainable services in engineering, consulting, surveys and design. The WSP Group’s Helsinki office in Finland works across the construction, industrial and urban planning industries, in particular providing sales, support and training services for the mining industry in Finland, Sweden and Norway.
WSP Finland specializes in GEOVIA Surpac, Whittle and MineSched. We talk to Petteri Somervuori, Business Unit Manager, Mine Planning & Rock Engineering, at WSP, about the mining industry challenges and solutions, as well as their take on GEOVIA software best practices.
What are the biggest issues and challenges in the Scandinavian mining industry today?
For us, the biggest challenge is the predictability of mining operations. Mining is a risky business and often, mining companies have to plan ahead despite not knowing what will change in the future. As a result, it can also be challenging to convince other stakeholders to continue the project.
It is, however, essential that all stakeholders have an understanding of uncertainty and variability – the “what we do not know” element of the project and where the main risks lie.
When companies are trying to raise funds from investors and obtain mining permits, it may be that optimistic scenarios are presented and concerns about uncertainty or risks are less visible.
There are examples of mining companies who are pressured to start production quickly and satisfy their shareholders, which could cause cash flow issues. The risk of losing investment is always a possibility but keeping safety and environmental issues top of mind is extremely important. And this is where technology comes in to mitigate these challenges.
How do you think technology can help address these challenges?
We believe technology can help to better predict mining operations and improve our understanding of variability and sensitivity of the operations.
We also have to consider a shift in attitude and thinking in the mining industry. We have seen some very innovative companies re-thinking everything and investing with the goal of better understanding their deposits, upskilling their workforce and improving their tools and methods. These companies are able to plan, schedule and simulate their daily, weekly or yearly production more precisely and efficiently; and are able to generate different mining scenarios and understand the sensitivity of the project – all of which will lead to smarter decision-making.
Technology and a culture shift can also streamline processes, optimize production and ultimately, bring about the digitalization of the mine.
Do you have any tips or best practices to share?
A challenge commonly encountered in underground mining operations is to convert CMS laser scans of excavated stopes into valid Surpac solid models. Often, the data may be invalid and models received from scanner software can be unnecessarily large and complex.
A common method of addressing this issue is to generate simple, valid solids by creating horizontal sections from scanned data. Closed segments are then digitized from each section and eventually used to re-triangulate the model. However, this is a manual and often tedious process.
This can be simplified by using a feature available in the most recent Surpac versions, a function called LAYER BOUNDARY.
This function can be used to automatically create a closed segment around the data in each section. Using the concave option within this function and reducing it can achieve good results and even eliminate manual work. With the addition of this new function, the whole process can be automated with macros from creating sections up to the automatic triangulation of model.
You can read more on the future of mining and the virtual mine here.