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Mining Matters: Long-term planning, long-term solution

For more than 50 years, geologists and engineers worldwide have used Hexagon’s MinePlan software for design, modelling, scheduling and operations. For more than half of that time at company headquarters in Bangkok, Thai energy company, Banpu, has used MinePlan for long-term planning and pit optimisation.

NJ: Thanks for tuning in to Mining Matters. Hi, I’m Neville Judd from HxGN Radio. Since 1970, Hexagon’s mine planning software, MinePlan, has been helping companies worldwide with design, modelling, scheduling, and operations. Thai energy company Banpu has used MinePlan for long-term planning and pit optimisation since 1991, back when it was known as Medsystems and then MineSight.

Joining us today to discuss MinePlan’s role in mine scheduling and in the company’s strategic goals are longtime Banpu colleagues Khun Isara Pootrakul, Khun Jamon Jamuang, Khun Phonkrit Pintaya. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us today.

So, you’ve all been with Banpu for many years and hold senior roles in the company. Tell us about Banpu and how your role has changed over the years. Khun Isara, you’re Banpu Mining Division VP. Let’s start with you.

IP: All right, Nev. Thanks for having us today. Talk about my role, yes, I started with Banpu since I graduated and started as a young planning engineer and using the Medsystem at that time and started with the 80386 computer chip.

NJ: That’s going back a long way. Yeah.

IP: That was a good memory. We did a lot with the development, and to use the Medsystem at that time was not easy because this was on DOS. But you guided very good at that time with the resources very limited. Still be able to do complex jobs and then deliver at that time.

My role’s changed over time to be more senior mining engineer, mentor, and also looking after bigger projects. But still, as the mining engineer working with the software and planning and evaluation things. And now as the management role, my job now is the, well, overview of the projects and also developed the country mining in Indonesia. My title is the mining business head in Indonesia now.

Yeah, that’s a brief what has been changed so far from my roles.

NJ: Thank you, Khun Isara.

Khun Jamon, you’re VP of mining engineer. Tell us about how your role’s changed.

JJ: Hi. I’m Jamon. Actually, I’m tech mining division for Banpu Corporate. Actually, I have worked with Khun Isara for 20 years already. I have started my career from starting from operation engineer, then continued to work in the mine development with the main part as the planning engineer until now, already 22 years’ experience with Banpu. My work still with the planning work both short term and strategic plans for Banpu mining division. Thank you.

NJ: Thank you, Khun Jamon.

Khun Phonkrit, tell us about your experience over the years. You’re a senior mining engineer, I believe.

PP: Yeah. Hi, I’m Phonkrit. My current position is senior mining specialist. I joined Banpu since I graduated from in years 2003. My first six years of work was a short-term planner, under one small Banpu coal mine in Indonesia. Although it is a small site, but the mine has the potential to expand more reserves. So, in that time, MinePlan software came in. We use software modules, such as pit optimisation to looking for expand the reserve, and we use some models, such as pit design we’re doing for, short term and yearly production plan. After the sixth year from a small mine, I moved to corporate work, take care of strategic and long-term plan for coal mining. Until 2019, my role has changed to be a part of the team that’s looking for mineral assets, such as the copper and nickel mine. Thank you.

NJ: Thank you, Khun Phonkrit.

Khun Isara, what are Banpu’s long term strategic goals? Where do you see the mining and energy industry heading towards in the next three to five years?

IP: We are currently a more energy company. Our goal is to be greener and smarter. So, we call that—greener means we are more manageable for the coal fire and we’re looking for a renewable. We have the three major businesses in Banpu. Our goal is that we have energy resources, which is coal and gas. And energy generations, where we have power generations from coal fire, gas fire, and so we have a renewable currently is growing, from about 650 megawatt and growing. And we also have energy technology. This is one that’s some kind of rooftop battery energy solutions, a smart city, some kind of that. And also, we add on the tech minerals into the portfolio to enhance this kind of energy technology. So, this is a general picture of our Banpu long-term strategic goals. In the next three to five years, what I can see is that everybody is moving into this similar direction, hopefully. Certainly, that renewables is something that everybody is looking for because we as a coal miners and a coal fired power panelists pressure and push hard on the carbon emission. So that is something that we have to prepare. Banpu is the same. But for us in the next three to five years, coal is still required. We have a lot of coal-fired power plants, and this will be still our core business. But we diversify and prepare some specifications and have more other renewables and prepare for carbon credits or something like that. I think that is the direction.

Khun Jamon, could you describe some of the bigger or more complex technology projects you’ve been involved with?

JJ: Yes. Soon we have the multiple operation from various countries. We’ve tried to apply technology to monitoring, perform, and to mine site. Online monitoring is still one project that we implement in our mines in Indonesia and Australia. This project helped us to monitor mine operations and quick adjust and do some decision making, according to situation change. Another interesting project is related to blending optimisation. We developed a programme to fix and update identifying coal matching between our coal reserve in portfolios and customer requirements: Dynamic changes of the coal price, accuracy of various schedules, and whether that may impact with the mine operations. This optimisation will help us to adjust the project to maximise profits based on the situation change. That should be to some example of the new technology that we implement in our companies.

NJ: Thank you, Khun Jamon.

Khun Phonkrit, what MinePlan solutions do you use and how do they help? I’m wondering in particular if there are any examples of metrics or time saved or costs saved.

PP: Okay. I use many of modules from MinePlan software, but my favourite is MinePlan Schedule Optimizer. This model can save time a lot or generate pit schedules by user constraints. I can apply some constraint on target, such as yearly grade, yearly production amount, stripping ratio or financial constraints in it. Then the software is looking for the best schedule for us. Also, we can copy some MPSO projects and send them to other team for fine-tune tests of that constraint. That saves a lot of time.

NJ: You mentioned sharing with other teams. Does MinePlan help with collaboration and execution in the field? Maybe you could just tell us about that.

PP: Okay. Bangkok team mainly use MinePlan software for long term. We collect pit or surface condition from our site by point cloud data. Our site help us collect data by surveying equipment on drone, then send that back to Bangkok. Point clouds help us a lot to understand what actual condition. If we understand more actual condition it helps us to do more precise, longer plan. But because of we have a many site and they use different software, and so we develop our procedure to convert coal model on the site to MinePlan model. But when we communicate to the site, we still use AutoCAD Excel or Asci file.

NJ: Understood. Thank you, Khun Phonkrit.

Khun Jamon, there are so many other software solutions on the market. Why do you use MinePlan?

JJ: I have actually introduced three or four mining software modelling related to open pit coal mining that have key strengths in different areas. For MinePlan, in my opinion, Hexagon shows significant continued development of the product. They continue to share updated new feature to us, and it works more efficient. I can say that Hexagon as a partner not only the software provided.

NJ: Well, that’s great to hear. Thank you, Khun Jamon.

Khun Isara, if I can finish with you, how would you like to see the software developed in the future?

IP: To me, I think the software will move probably into more collaborations. That’s what I think would be useful. Basically, we’re looking for the value added of the products through the optimisations, the blending kind of things. And down to the management of the stockyard, stock qualities. So, manage how to deliver into the supply chain, into the truck and also the river barge to the vessel. This is probably something that if you talk about what I would like to see, yeah, I would like to see some of that value-added kind of package.

And another one would be nice as a management type of things, I don’t have a chance much to look into every details. And Khun Phonkrit and Khun Jamon are closer to the technical kind of things. To me, if there is some kind of a mobile apps, which probably I can see or get out of the big pictures, reports or some of the information that can get into, that would be nice. That will help with some decision-making. Right. I think that kind of thing.

NJ: Understood. Interesting. Thank you, Khun Isara.

And gentlemen, thanks to all of you. I think between you, you have decades of experience using, collectively using the software, so it’s been interesting hearing about your insight. So again, thank you for joining us today.

IP: All right. Thanks, Nev.

PP: Thank you.

NJ: Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you.

So, a big thank you to our guests for joining us today. For more information about today’s topic, visit hexagonmining.com. And to watch additional content or learn more, visit hxgnspotlight.com. Thanks for tuning in.