G-tech fuels growth in BRICS minerals and metals sector

G-tech fuels growth in BRICS minerals and metals sector

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John Sanins, Solutions Executive, Bentley Systems
John Sanins
Solutions Executive, Bentley Systems

The BRICS countries are ranked in the top 10 suppliers for minerals and metals raw materials to meet the global demand. John Sanins, Solutions Executive of Bentley Systems, explains how the five nations are utilising geospatial technologies to reduce their investment costs and improve their project lifecycle.

What is the level of deployment of geospatial technology in the mining sector in BRICS countries? Are your solutions any different from the ones deployed in developed countries?

The BRICS countries are currently ranked in the top 10 suppliers for minerals and metals (M&M) raw materials to meet the growing global demand. Significant investment in M&M in South America over the next two decades is expected to support all current and future services and infrastructure development in the region. Russia is ranked amongst the world’s top 10 in terms of reserves and production, with well-developed national infrastructure providing both equipment and services to support the Russian M&M industry. Major advances in open pit mining developed by national institutions continue to be supported through the use of Bentley geospatial and geotechnical applications to validate extraction and transportation strategies.

Environmental concerns and land acquisition hurdles have dealt a major blow to the once-booming mining sector in India, with almost all activities coming to a halt in recent years. The deployment of geospatial technologies supporting the systematic mapping and development of regions in which investments have been identified will help to show any areas of inconsistency or dispute that would otherwise have led to a slowdown in the planning and project execution process.

China contributes over one-third of all coal mining globally, together with substantial reserves of copper and aluminium. With the rapid expansion in national Chinese markets, along with a growing international demand for processed product, China is also seeing major investments in national M&M infrastructure.

Africa ranks as the largest reserve worldwide for bauxite, the primary source of aluminium, manganese, industrial diamonds, and platinum. This vast wealth of natural resources has led to significant infrastructure investment regionally, with major projects undertaken in South Africa and neighbouring African countries. The use of geospatial and 3D design systems has helped in reducing investment costs by integrating the local geospatial information with crucial design information needed for processing and transportation design.

Almost all major international engineering contractors have used Bentley geospatial, information management, engineering design and modelling solutions for their M&M projects. Bentley applications are recognised as the most integrated design, geospatial, and infrastructure software environments available in the market. Local projects in all of the BRICS countries have enjoyed the benefits of such tools that have been used on major capital projects in other regions of the world. This has resulted in M&M facilities that are high in quality and very efficient.

Availability of skilled manpower is a critical problem in this sector. Does Bentley offer any programmes towards capacity building?

Availability of an experienced, educated workforce continues to be a major challenge across all major engineering sectors engaged in the minerals and metals (M&M) sector looking to complete design, construction, and operations using sophisticated geospatial and engineering design and modelling software tools. Bentley has recognised the need to support and encourage proactive local education advancement through a series of structured learning programmes – Bentley Learning Paths – as part of its Bentley LEARN programme. This on-demand programme is tailored to meet the specific education demands for each practitioner involved in multi-discipline M&M engineering and design.

National policies and guidelines often affect the mining industry, especially when it comes to sustainability issues. Your comments?

Local and national regulations can have a direct influence on the technologies used to support major M&M infrastructure investments. This is closely coupled with the requirement to protect the local community, environment, health and safety of all involved in such projects. The implementation of integrated information management software systems used to manage data from geospatial, mapping, and engineering design disciplines over the past two decades has resulted in significant improvements in the design and operational integrity of today’s complex infrastructure projects. This has had a direct impact on the constructability, maintainability, and operability of today’s M&M assets through the use of data-centric geospatial and engineering information and design tools.

Is the awareness level among mining companies or even governments in these countries satisfactory?

The majority of global M&M asset owners and national and international engineering contractors all recognise the considerable business, engineering, and operational advantages in deploying integrated geospatial, information management, and engineering software solutions. The advantages and business value of using sophisticated engineering design and analysis tools during the engineering, procurement, and construction phase of capital projects are well documented and value is now being derived in operations using data originally developed during the EPC phase. Bentley’s AssetWise Asset Lifecycle Information Management environment, together with Bentley’s Ivara Asset Performance application, are reshaping the operational performance and integrity of today’s M&M assets by utilising and managing the original engineering and geospatial information as an integral resource during operations.