Why Agile Mining Services are the Future?

Shariq Ansari
April 4, 2023
5 mins to read
By using the right tools and methods, mining operations can turn more efficient, flexible, and profitable.

If you're a mining or mineral exploration business owner, you'd know very well how fast-paced the industry has become in the last decade or so. The ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances is essential, and companies must be able to pivot their operations to meet the needs of their stakeholders. The demand is skyrocketing, and supplying minerals of the right quality is simply challenging.

To solve this, mining companies are investing in digital transformation, and rightly so. But, how do you ensure your digital transformation is carried out the right way? That's where the agile methodology comes in. By adopting an Agile approach, mining companies can improve their flexibility, efficiency, and responsiveness, ensuring that they are well-positioned to succeed in the future. In this blog, we'll explore how agile services can help mining companies stay ahead of the curve. But before we do that, let's walk you through what Agile Methodology exactly is.

Breaking down the Agile Methodology

Let's imagine that you're planning a road trip with your friends. You're all excited to hit the road and see all the amazing sights along the way. But before you can leave, you need to decide on a few things - like where you're going, how you're going to get there, and what you're going to do when you arrive.

Now, imagine that you're using the Agile methodology to plan your trip. Instead of trying to plan out every detail of the trip in advance, you're going to take a more flexible and adaptable approach. You'll break the trip down into smaller chunks, and focus on completing each chunk before moving on to the next.

First, you'll decide on your destination. You'll talk to your friends and gather input on where they want to go. Then, you'll set a goal for the trip - maybe you want to see as many national parks as possible, or maybe you want to hit up all the best beaches along the coast.

Next, you'll plan out the first part of the trip. You'll decide on a route to take and figure out where you want to stop along the way. You'll make sure you have all the supplies you need, like snacks and drinks for the car ride.

As you start the trip, you'll keep checking in with your friends to make sure everyone is happy with how things are going. If someone suggests a detour to see a cool attraction, you'll be open to changing your plans and taking the detour. As you continue on the trip, you'll adjust your plans as needed.

The Agile methodology is all about being flexible and adaptable and focusing on completing smaller chunks of work at a time. By taking this approach, you can make sure that you're always moving in the right direction, and that you're able to respond to changes and challenges as they arise.

So, the next time you're planning something, remember the Agile methodology and approach it with flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability! Planning a road trip however is not as difficult as transforming a mining project. Keep reading to find out how agile methodology would be applicable to mining.

communication and collaboration for agile mining
Working in silos is harmful as mining projects require a lot of collaboration and communication due to their scale.

How do Agile Mining Services Enhance Operations?

All of this may appear to be easier said than done, right? Not really, given that major mining companies have already begun to adopt the agile approach and appear to be producing consistent results. Let us help you visualize how being agile can transform your mine site, by looking into six primary processes:

Exploration Planning

When it comes to mineral exploration, geologists need to plan and execute exploration programs accurately to discover profitable mineral deposits. By inculcating the agile approach, exploration teams can break down these programs into smaller chunks, focusing on completing each stage before moving on to the next.

For example, starting off with geophysical surveys and analysis, followed by target selection, surface sampling, and so on, until they have the precise data to make the best decisions. During every stage, team members can hold regular meetings to review the progress, and identify roadblocks or the need to change the trajectory. This allows them to adapt quickly to changes in project priorities and new findings, and minimize risk.

Resource Modeling

Agile methodologies can be used to manage the resource modeling process flexibly and iteratively. Instead of completing the entire resource modeling process in one go, teams can focus on smaller, more manageable targets, and iterate quickly as new data becomes available.

This could imply breaking down the process into stages, such as data collection, geological interpretation, and finally statistical analysis. Furthermore, because resource modeling requires the creation of a three-dimensional model of the mineralized deposit, which is critical for estimating the size, shape, and grade of mineralization, active collaboration ensures reliability and consistent resolution.

Mine Planning

Once a mineral deposit has been identified and resources have been modeled, the mine planning process begins. Here, teams can focus on developing a detailed mine design for a particular section of the mine before moving on to other sections. Or if a new deposit is discovered during mining operations, the team can quickly adjust their plans to incorporate the new deposits into the mine plan.

Agile methodologies can also help mining companies improve collaboration between different teams, such as mining engineers, geologists, and environmental specialists, to create the perfect plan.

Equipment Maintenance

With rising ESG standards, the maintenance of mining equipment is now more important than ever to ensure safe and effective operations. With the proactiveness of agile methodology, maintenance teams can adopt a flexible approach to equipment maintenance.

One measure could be prioritizing maintenance tasks based on equipment needs and operational requirements, rather than adhering to a rigid maintenance schedule. This would allow for a quick response to breakdowns or other issues that arise.

Safety Management

Safety is undoubtedly a top priority in mining, and incorporating the agile methodology can help safety teams respond quickly to hazards and incidents. For example, if a new safety risk is identified, the team can quickly implement new safety procedures or training programs to address that specific risk.

Mining companies can also extend this to the management of safety inspections and audits, and make them more flexible and iterative. To business owners concerned about the time all of this would take, digital tools today speed up the entire process 10x without leaving any gaps for errors that manual auditing can cause.

Supply Chain Management

End-to-end supply chain management is critical to ensuring that equipment and materials are available when needed. The manufacturing sector has adopted an agile supply chain, and it has produced excellent results. The mining sector should do the same. By targeting different stages, from procurement to logistics, businesses can highly improve efficiency and focus on continuous improvement.

With the help of the right software, they can use iterative planning and forecasting techniques to ensure that they always have the right materials and equipment on hand to support mining operations.

supply chain management in agile mining
Managing a mine site using the agile approach compliments all the investments businesses make for digitization.

What tools and technologies make your mining operations agile?

Several tools and technologies can be used to adopt Agile methodologies successfully in the mining industry. Here are some examples:

  1. Agile Project Management Tools: These tools can help mining teams to manage their projects more effectively by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks and tracking progress in real-time. Plus, they enable teams to prioritize work, collaborate more effectively, and identify and address issues quickly.
  2. Digital Twin Technology: This involves creating a virtual replica of a mine or mining equipment that can be used for simulation and analysis. Digital twins can help mining teams to model different scenarios and test the impact of changes before implementing them in the real world. This can reduce risk and improve decision-making, particularly in complex mining operations.
  3. Internet of Things (IoT): IoT technology can be used to collect real-time data on mining operations, equipment performance, and environmental conditions. This data can be analyzed using machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and predict future trends. This can help mining teams to optimize their operations, improve equipment reliability, and reduce downtime.
  4. Cloud Computing: Cloud computing technology allows mining teams to store, manage, and share data and applications over the internet. This can improve collaboration and information sharing across different teams and locations, particularly in remote mining sites.
  5. Agile Training and Coaching: Finally, training and coaching can be essential tools to adopt Agile methodologies in mining operations successfully. This can involve providing Agile training to mining teams, coaching teams on how to adopt Agile methodologies, and facilitating collaboration and communication across different teams.

How does no-code software fit into the picture?

The mining and mineral exploration industry, which is, unfortunately, less tech-savvy than the IT sector, naturally finds digital tools and technologies to be quite intimidating. A geologist or a mine supervisor can provide amazing insights into mineralization, for example, but they cannot work around integrating apps or writing code to add a new feature. The traditional method has been to either deal with an expensive and cumbersome development agency or buy an outrageously expensive license for software when you only need half of its features.

This has in the past discouraged a lot of mining companies from adopting digital transformation at their workplace. But with the advent of no-code technology, miners can turn all their operations agile without having to write a single piece of code. SaaS no-code products have boosted digital adoption rates within the industry due to:

  1. Rapid Application Development (RAD): No-code platforms help develop completely customizable applications that support Agile methodologies, at a lightning-fast pace. Since they are powered by drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built templates, miners can design and digitize a new process within a day. Also, with the freedom of developing applications in-house, mining teams can have more control, turning changes in project priorities and requirements pretty responsive.
  2. Workflow Automation: Streamlining workflows is essential to making mining operations agile, and with multiple capabilities on a single platform, every manual task is digitized. It can be an on-site process like worker data collection to an in-office process like tracking expenses in the accounts department. By integrating all these tasks onto one place, no-code technology reduces errors and allows businesses to focus more on strategy.
  3. Data Visualization: Visualization has become an indispensable part of data management. No-code platforms go one step further by allowing users to create custom data graphs and dashboards that provide real-time insights into mining operations. Mining teams can then identify trends, track progress, and inform decision-making, allowing them to be more agile and responsive to changing conditions.

Many mining companies in Australia, Canada, and Africa rely on Grid, a no-code platform that can perform all of the aforementioned tasks and a lot more. On Grid, miners have been able to independently build end-to-end exploration platforms, surface sampling and surveying applications, and much more. To find out how you can use Grid for your needs, or instantly deploy our ready-to-use templates, don't hesitate to reach out!

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Shariq Ansari
Digital Marketeer
“Using Grid to track drill program progress and day to day expenditures has allowed VR Resources to make better decisions more quickly. The highly customizable and elegant interface allows me to track and manage all aspects of our field work and it’s clear after just a few weeks that the possibilities are nearly endless. Cost tracking estimates were consistently within expected variance of invoices received giving me further confidence in managing agile drill programs. Further the development team and customer support have been top notch!”
Justin J. Daley
PGeo, MSc, Vice President Exploration
VR Resources
VR Resources
“Grid has been extremely helpful in changing the course of multiple operations, here at U-Solar. We started with one module for Materials Management, and have now adopted Grid for 3-4 more processes, all of which have been smooth and quick to implement.”
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