IM November, currently at the printer, includes a review of software developments. One of the leaders is Gemcom Software, which has certainly been very busy recently. Mid-May saw the release of Gemcom GEMS 6.1 (GEMS), the latest version of its geology, mine planning, production scheduling and data management software. Tom Gibson, Gemcom GEMS product manager: “To ensure critical mining data is managed effectively, GEMS is at the forefront in database technology that optimizes workflows and secures mining data. In GEMS 6.1, we continue to leverage these strengths to advance mining productivity with the addition of new innovations such as ‘click-to-generate’ tunnel designs.”GEMS 6.1 has more than 25 new features and enhancements such as the tunnel object that automatically turns lines into complete underground tunnel designs with the capability for safety bays and filleted intersections. Other new capabilities focus on usability, including easy to use tools to visualize and edit search ellipses when interpolating block models, and workspace setup and management.“De Beers’ Snap Lake mine is due to open in the last quarter of 2007. GEMS has been an integral part of the development of the underground resource since evaluation began in 1999,” said Josh Harvey, Senior Supervisor, MRM and specialized geology, De Beers Canada Snap Lake. “We have benefited from many upgrades and improvements to GEMS over the last eight years and are excited about the new features and enhancements in GEMS 6.1.”Late May saw the release of Gemcom Surpac 6, the latest version of its software for orebody evaluation, open pit and underground mine design, mine planning and production. The software’s ease-of-use helps to address skills shortages, by enabling mining companies to train staff faster and to facilitate the smooth transfer of skills between operations.Surpac 6 provides new workflow efficiency and usability, enabling geologists, engineers and surveyors to accomplish more in less time by improving how they interact with the software, improving productivity at their operations. New and updated capabilities include:Increased efficiency through simplified workflows Speed and performance increases Enhanced user experience with greater interaction with the on-screen display Gemcom followed this in June with Gemcom Minex 5.2 – software that supports the geology and mine planning needs of companies with stratified deposits. Developed in partnership with the industry, the system integrates key functions like borehole data management, geological modelling, mine planning and design, allowing its users to make fast, effective decisions by easily sharing data. “Gemcom Minex 5.2 is the most powerful and technologically up-to-date solution of its kind,” stated Jon Barber, Gemcom’s Vice President of Minex. “Users are seeking to replace older and less sophisticated competitor products that have not kept pace with advancements in technology. Minex is being employed by these clients to improve mining operational performance, user productivity and profits.” Griffin Coal Mining has adopted Gemcom Minex, replacing another product. “The change was driven by a need for an integrated system that was effective, quick and user friendly,” said Richard Campbell, Operations and Planning Manager at Griffin. “We wanted a best practice mine planning and geological modelling system that allowed technical services department to function in a co-ordinated way. “As with all Australian mines, getting and keeping good skilled staff is difficult, so Gemcom’s consulting arm has helped us get work done and assisted in the development of industry best practice. Certainly Minex’s ease of use has been instrumental in allowing us to bring new staff up to speed quickly and achieve more in less time,” continued Campbell. “Having strong face to face relationships with those you partner with is vital. Every mine has different requirements and Gemcom’s services staff has an excellent understanding of the problems facing coal mine operations.” Rick Moignard, President and CEO of Gemcom: “Stratified deposits like coal are unique, requiring specialised software to quantify and plan their extraction. Minex is one of only a handful of systems that can do this. Minex clients have access to the complete range of Gemcom’s software and professional services solutions, which can be tailored to their individual needs. ” New and updated capabilities added to Gemcom Minex 5.2 include: A full open-pit mine design suite which generates bench, strip and block designs A coal washability module that stores and manipulates coal wash data based on size fractions, density fractions and yield An open-pit reserves module that enables engineers to generate volumes, tonnes and quality of the coal and waste layers in their designed mining blocks Minex borehole database supports connections to ODBC databases such as Access or SQL Server or Oracle Extensive enhancements to texture surface draping on triangle surfaces. In August, it was the release of Gemcom MineSched 5.1 – its latest software for surface and underground target-based scheduling. Used by hundreds of mines around the world, Gemcom MineSched 5.1 is a comprehensive and powerful scheduling system encompassing both long and short-term scheduling. Supporting large and small mining operations and all commodity types, it also enables companies to meet blending targets. MineSched schedules can be produced from pre-created block, grid, and polygon models that originate from many different mine planning systems, including Gemcom Surpac and Gemcom Minex.Australian-based St Barbara is one of the many companies that have adopted MineSched for its scheduling system. “MineSched has enabled St Barbara to produce a robust LOM Plan for the long-life Gwalia Mine,” stated Julia Martin, Senior Mining Engineer. “With MineSched’s visualisation and reporting capabilities, we can ensure that schedules can be validated, reviewed and communicated quickly and easily.” With the global consolidation of mining companies and the increasing scarcity of skilled mining professionals, MineSched 5.1 introduces a complete internationalisation framework for using the system in multiple languages, such as Russian, Chinese and Spanish. This allows companies to provide better global support to mine planners, while bringing consistency to processes and facilitating the transfer of skills between operations. In addition, the software’s ease of use allows mine sites to be up and running with the software much more quickly than they can with other scheduling systems.Eli Alston, Product Manager for MineSched: “The software incorporates proven scheduling algorithms and can output results in a wide variety of formats, including 2D and 3D graphics, worksheet-based reports and Gantt charts, ensuring that schedules can be easily viewed, validated and communicated.”Also in August, Gemcom announced that Gemcom InSite has been selected by Lonmin, the world’s third largest and lowest cost platinum producer, as the short-term planning and continuous measurement system to support its underground Marikana mine in South Africa. Lonmin’s InSite implementation will capture, manage and distribute operations data to mining teams including mine survey, geology, material resource management, planning, production and others. “Lonmin looks for innovative and sustainable ways of improving the productivity, safety and profitability of our mine sites by ensuring our staff has access to the right information, measures and reports,” said Anton Mauve, Vice President, strategic and production planning with Lonmin. “By working with Gemcom and employing its InSite system, we will gain the capabilities needed to establish ongoing business process improvements through continuous measuring, monitoring, reconciling and reporting of mine production. This will allow us in turn to realise our objective of increasing the accuracy of short- and long-term production forecasting. We believe that this type of continuous measuring and monitoring, including face advance, safety, and lost blasts, will be a first for the industry.”Benefits that Lonmin expects to realise from the implementation include: Continuous capturing and reporting of daily mining progress Improved safety with continual measuring of mine safety through web reporting Better access to information to support business process improvement Enhanced usability, including automation to support users with varying skill sets and experience Improved ability to identify and investigate problems, drilling down to the root cause.In September Gemcom announced the release of Gemcom InSite 2.1, the latest version of its mine performance management solution. With an InSite system, mining companies are able to improve operational performance by rapidly deploying a system that captures data from disparate mining applications and operational data sources, tying the information together through a web portal that delivers measures, reports and analytics.Peter Orr, Senior Product Manager for InSite: “InSite enables mining engineers and mine managers to monitor KPIs, analyse problems and respond immediately. It is a versatile solution that captures, validates and reports production data in both open pit and underground operations. With release 2.1, InSite provides companies with the capability to compare operational performance across multiple mines and to deliver information to users in their local language.” The Multi-Site Consolidated Reporting feature of InSite 2.1 enables mines to continuously track the progress of their operations against corporate goals. It provides flexible data synchronization configurations to support a range of corporate wide area network systems. By consolidating data from local operations at the regional and corporate level, companies can track overall performance against corporate totals, averages, budgets and plans. Senior management gain access to up-to-date planning and production data from all sites and the ability to analyse costs by equipment, activity, region and other factors.