Animate MineSched schedules with blocks colored by material class


As MineSched users we all know we can change the color of the blocks in the animation canvas between coloring by period, or by location. However, I’ve found that one of the most common questions I’m asked when I am showing MineSched to new users is how to color the blocks in the animation by their material classifications.

The blocks we see in the animation canvas are the scheduling blocks, and each block can contain a different combination of material types inside of them. So, without making some broad generalizations on classifying these blocks it isn’t possible to color them by their material.

It is possible though if we consider two factors: First, the definition of materials into the schedule comes from the block model, and second, we can export the results of the schedule back into the block model. This means however, that the schedule animation will be happening in Surpac.


Long time MineSched users will remember the days where, in order to see a schedule animation, you had to kick the graphical results back into Surpac. Embedding the animation canvas into the MineSched dashboard has remarkably improved the MineSched experience.

What I will show you here is no exception. It is not as simple and easy as toggling a display option and there are several steps that need to be completed in order to achieve the desired results. What you will actually find is that displaying the schedule in this way will help visually communicate what materials are being mined in every period, and what materials are exposed in each bench.


In my example we will start with the assumption that you already have a schedule prepared in MineSched, and are ready to export the results.




STEP 1:  Take note of the material classes that are setup in the block model for MineSched. It is also helpful here to remain consistent with your coloring scheme.




STEP 2: In the Publish Results ribbon choose the Model Updates tab. You can select a name for the new attribute it will create in the block model, or use the default minesched_period. Make sure option for Clear attribute is checked on, this will eliminate any risk of combining the results of multiple exports to the block model. Hit the button to Update Block Models.




STEP 3: Open the block model in Surpac. *if the block model was already open in Surpac, you will need to close and re-open since MineSched has changed the mdl file.*


STEP 4: In Surpac, open any additional data to supplement the animations like surfaces, solids, or drill-holes. In my example, I am using an aerial photo draped onto the topography surface, and two pit designs.




STEP 5: Now to display the block model. The block model attribute we created earlier in MineSched, minesched_period, has a background value of -999, so if we use a block type constraint for minesched_period > 0 this will show all of the block model blocks that will be mined in the schedule.







STEP 6: Now we can color the block model to match the material classifications in MineSched.



My preference for displaying the model is to also toggle off the block edges. A simple way to do this is to use the function block model > display > edge and face visibility.




STEP 7: Finally, we can take a snapshot of the starting point for our animation. For this, I will use function File > images > save an image which simply saves a .gif or .png of the current view. I put this first snapshot into an empty folder and flagged the file as period 0.



The gif file created can be opened and viewed in your favorite image viewing application.



STEP 8: To create the image for the first period we simply need to update the constraint with the next period number and take another snapshot. These tasks can be repeated for every period in which you would like to capture an image.





Repetitive processes like this are very easy to speed up and automate using TCL and this a very easy macro to put together. The macro below uses a for loop to repeat the process for all of our schedule periods.





STEP 9: After creating all of the images needed, they can be viewed in order to watch the progression of mining.






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Trevor Lukaniuk

Trevor Lukaniuk

Trevor is a Senior Mining Engineer at Dassault Systèmes, based in Vancouver Canada.