Could mining asteroids save Earth?

By Alyssa
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Natural Resources are critical to society.  Without them, virtually everything that defines the modern world would disappear, including the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the technology we use to communicate and save lives –  even the shoes we wear and the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. .  However, the future of mining natural resources is uncertain.  We have already extracted the easy-to-access materials, and those of the highest grade.  But as the population of Earth continues to grow, demand for natural resources continues to mount. There is no quick fix, but there are a lot of ideas on how to approach the challenge. One of these involves mining asteroids.

It might sound like science fiction, but both public entities and private companies are actively working on figuring out if asteroids can be a new source of the materials we need on our planet.  Scientists think asteroids hold promise because they are made of the same minerals as Earth.  NASA, for example, has created an Asteroid Redirect Mission with the goal of extracting a boulder from a Near Earth Asteroid and bringing it close to the moon so that astronauts can study what it can offer.  Private companies are also actively involved: space exploration company Planetary Resources is aiming for an exploratory launch by 2020.

The concept of mining asteroids may be capturing the most attention, but there are other paths too, such as leveraging more autonomous machinery or encouraging more conscious consumption.  This isn’t something any one group alone can accomplish.  Mining companies, communities, environmental groups, and individuals must work together to find new approaches.

“If we want a vibrant economy with globally high quality of life and also to protect Earth for future generations, we all have a responsibility to get involved and find a balance that works,” says Marni Rabasso, vice president of Natural Resources at Dassault Systèmes.

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform can play a key role in finding new solutions, due to its ability to create virtual worlds in which ‘what-if’ scenarios can be simulated to visualize, design and explore new technologies.

In conjunction with CNBC Catalyst Content Studio, Dassault Systèmes created an in-depth look at the challenges ahead in mining our natural resources and the different options that could provide us new sources for what is needed to run our world.  Check out the videos and articles here.  Then come back and tell us: what do you think is the best approach for mining more natural resources?

Leveraging Integrated Mine Planning to Control Costs at Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank Mine

By Alexandre
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Located in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, about 2,600 kilometers northwest of Toronto, the Meadowbank mine is Agnico Eagle’s largest gold producer, with 1.8 million ounces of gold in proven and probable reserves since the open pit began in early 2010.

Meadowbank completes all of their optimization and design work in-house and regularly performs, multi-scenario economic analyses ensuring they achieve the best results, both accurately and efficiently. Pit design plays an important role in improving Meadowbank’s productivity. In 2013, Meadowbank’s gold production was far higher than expected as a result of creating multiple designs for different scenarios to enhance their operations and productivity.

Meadowbank works with Dassault Systèmes mine planning apps and is supported by its training services.

Stephane Frechette, Engineering Assistant Superintend says: “Working together, we surpassed last year’s production targets. We provided a strong mine plan that we’ve been able to also surpass with clear planning for the mine operation.”

As a result of the training, Meadowbank is now able to perform faster, better optimized adjustments to pit shells and pit designs by their in-house design teams. The staff has gained confidence in their tactical scheduling and planning, and now evaluates various scenarios before defining their long-term plans.

Read the rest of the story by downloading the Agnico Eagle Meadowbank case study.

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The Path to Mining Execution Excellence

By Alexandre
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Mining company profits are being pressured by the uncertainty that remains in the global economy and by a cost and profitability curve that has grown tight over the past twenty years. This is why it is critical Operational Stability – the predictability of expected mine production, costs, and performance levels – be attained. Getting there requires mining and plant processing activities function at higher levels of productivity and efficiency so that conformance plan is always realized.

The quickest avenue to improved Operational Stability begins with reducing the variability in the planning and execution of mining and processing. This requires comprehensive planning, optimized scheduling, and disciplined work management.

Toyota is recognized as being one of the most efficient companies in the world. It is also one of the most studied since it pioneered key methods of reducing variation, with stability being the first and most critical step, because it underpins everything else that follows. Stability includes the general predictability and consistent availability in terms of manpower, machines, materials, and methods. Under each of these basic building blocks of these basic building blocks of manufacturing, Toyota tries to establish consistency and predictability.

Stability increases throughput, reduces waste and associated costs, and ensures production and quality targets are met. The key lies in harnessing operational data. While “big data” may be produced in mining in terms of volume, it must become visible, analyzable, and it must be made actionable to executives, mine management, and frontline workers. If it is, the path to Mining Execution Excellence, and eventually Business Agility, is paved. As we will see, enabling technology is one of the most important requirements to begin the journey.

Operational Stability is the first and most important step a mining company can take to begin transforming itself. It not delivers the benefits of greater productivity and conformance to plan; it ensures improvements gained are sustainable. Operational Stability is also the foundation for Business Agility and the Virtual Mine.

Download the full whitepaper

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