Geoscientific information management – why executives take it seriously

Geoscientific information management (GIM) is more than drilling and geology data. It is the original observations and measurements that are made on the drill cuttings, core and laboratory samples. It is the original data from which all interpretation and opinion about value of the company’s mineral resource assets is based, and it is a key driver of the value of a mineral resource business and its shares.

Most executives understand that drilling, sampling, and analysis are investments that build value. Ensuring the data is accurate and trusted by the experts that rely on it also vital.

The gathering of geoscientific information in the field is also risky. Drilling and sampling involves occupational health and safety risks to drillers and their teams. Although the data is used by the most experienced people on the team, it is often collected by junior operators that are light in both geological expertise, and the health safety risks of their role and environment.

From a business perspective, the decision of how much to invest in drilling and sampling involves information and subjective and dependent on a sound strategy. Both where and how to drill and sample are as much art as science.

Despite the challenges geoscientific data is at the heart of the value building process and to build value the data must be collected, protected and trusted.

The management challenges

The first challenge is that it is difficult to determine what is under the ground. The ground is simply rock. It’s hard and abrasive and the machines that engage it are powerful, expensive and wear out. Operators face risks of injury and a variety of morale and health issues that accumulate over time.

Mineral resources are often in remote and hostile locations, that involve travel in often in harsh weather on roads that are unsealed and hazardous. The remoteness also means that activities are difficult to supervise consistently, especially as experienced people often prefer to limit their time in the field.

The location of an economic resource can be difficult to determine. Maps of remote areas and lease boundaries can be incomplete or inaccurate. Drilling or sampling programs can be in the right place, but the data collected can fail to indicate the presence of the resource due to lack of geological information or poor drill program design and sampling practices. Experience and perseverance are essential inputs. Data and knowledge must build over time, which means the data from each program must accumulate and be available and trusted through the successive cycles of activity.

Trusted data

The objective of each activity cycle is to achieve a set of data that experts can examine, interpret and use to develop models to formulate the next stage of project and business development.

The issue of trusted data cannot be overstated. The following list reflects the many types of issues that lead to a loss of faith, or false confidence in an organisation’s geoscience data, endangering the assumptions of the executives making business decisions.

  1. Planning of drillholes and samples based on erroneous input data.
  2. Incorrect location of drillholes or sample locations in the field.
  3. Use of incorrect or invalid coordinate grids.
  4. Poorly designed or maintained sampling equipment.
  5. Contamination or mixing of samples.
  6. Poor sampling technique and data collection processes.
  7. Loss of samples.
  8. Fraudulent tampering with samples.
  9. Data errors.
  10. Ambiguous data entry (e.g. use of incorrect, or non endorsed codes and descriptors).
  11. Lack of quality checks to ensure measurements are repeatable and accurate.
  12. Inconsistent or incorrect classification of data so that it cannot be located or retrieved as a valid and complete set.
  13. Human error or failure of systems leading to loss of data.
  14. Unauthorised editing of data, corrupting valid original observations.
  15. Use of customised or proprietary systems that are reliant on the developers or implementers and putting data at risk from turnover of employees and contractors.

The GIM maturity concept

How does an executive know if their GIM processes are robust and that the data can be trusted? There are a series of questions that can indicate the overall risk of geoscientific information failure.

  1. Do we have an agreed and documented process for the collection and management of geoscientific data?
  2. Do we actively train our technical teams in geoscientific information management?
  3. Have we identified the key parts of our process that need to be audited and maintained.
  4. Do we use an industry standard data management system for storing and managing geoscientific data.
  5. Are we reliant on IT specialists to maintain our systems.

acQuire Technology Solutions is a global leader in geoscientific information management and provides services in GIM process review. Information on acQuire can be found at: www.acQuire.com.au

Current risks and opportunities

The implementation of a globally recognized mining software solution for Geoscientific Information Management is one of the key projects that can increase efficiency while increasing the confidence and effectiveness of the organization in discovering and developing resources. The right system can:

  • Eliminate the reliance on internal IT specialists for the maintenance and use of an organisation’s geoscientific information asset.
  • Greatly increase the efficiency of geology teams in getting an up-to-date, trusted set of data for the projects they are working on.
  • Eliminate the occurrence of data error and data loss.
  • Raise the confidence of the entire team in the resource assets of the business.
  • Reduce the risk of having to re-drill, re-sample or log when transitioning from exploration to resource development or feasibility work, or to prove the value of a project.
  • Improve the ability to attract leading professionals when required.
  • Improve confidence in corporate reporting associated with resource development and asset value.
  • Enable better planning, execution and performance.

acQuire Technology Solutions is globally recognized as the leader in Geoscientific Information Management, based on an industry standard model that supports its global base of customers. acQuire’s industry proven data model provides a standard, globally supported model for data storage. Quality data is captured at the source, resulting in a single source of trusted data upon which the mineral resource industry relies.

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