Turning mining data into visual map

Turning mining data into visual map


Fortescue Metals Group Limited, the world’s fourth largest iron ore producer which operates in Australia, has partnered with Esri Australia to translate its data into the visual format of a map. The map enables the staff throughout the company to visualise what is occurring across a mine and removes the challenge of accessing multiple and competing technologies or information sources.

 GIS providing a ‘single point of truth’ for decision-makers

 Fortescue Metals Group Limited has implemented an industry-leading geospatial mapping system as part of an $8.4 billion plan to triple its operations by the end of this year. The cutting-edge new Geographic Information System (GIS) is the result of a partnership between Fortescue Metals Group Limited, which currently operates in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, and Esri Australia.

 A crucial aspect of the GIS solution is its role as a central dashboard: an up-to-date, highly reliable and secured platform which provides a common and comprehensive visual picture of Fortescue’s operations. The organisation-wide GIS will provide Fortescue with a new, geographic view of their business, so they can eliminate inefficiencies and maximise mine output.

 “More than 80% of Fortescue’s data has a geographical component – their employees, assets and activities are located across multiple sites covering 65,000 square kilometres,” said Tom Gardner,Esri Australia WA Business Manager. GIS technology brings together Fortescue’s data and translates it into the visual format of a map – providing a common operating picture or ‘single point of truth’ for decision-makers. It enables staff throughout the company to visualise what is occurring across a mine and removes the challenge of accessing multiple and competing technologies or information sources. This will expedite the location and extraction of new resources, the identification of bottlenecks in workflows, as well as guide land management, and risk and safety monitoring.

 Fortescue currently operates: two mines; a 300 kilometre railway; and a deep-water, multi-user port – all in the heart of the Pilbara. Its expansion plan includes increased port and rail operations, existing mine upgrades and the creation of a third mine. Fortescue GIS superintendent Jen Thomson said she expected the new GIS to deliver a positive impact to operations across the company. “We intend to improve all aspects of our business through easy access to data via the GIS’s desktop and web-based interfaces,” Ms Thomson said.

 “GIS technology enables us to provide better visualisation and distribution of our spatial information to staff. “Ultimately with this system, we’re aiming for a new, secure and efficient way of operating that will improve our workflow efficiency, enable users to make more informed decisions and broaden the spectrum of users able to make those decisions.” Fortescue are spearheading the region’s resource industry’s expansion of GIS technology into non-traditional areas of mine operations. 

 For decades resource companies have used GIS in exploration, tenure, environmental and heritage management. However, an increasing number of mines around the world are using the technology in areas such as health and safety, asset management, emergency management and operational mine management, to deliver significant productivity, efficiency and safety gains.

 Over the coming 12 months, experts expect to see Fortescue pave the way for a number of other major resources players, by implementing GIS across their business. “In the context of the current mining boom, it is more important than ever for miners to develop their capabilities by identifying and implementing GIS-driven strategies that will improve their operations and positively impact their bottom-line,” said Mr Gardner.