Mining User Group members share experiences of ArcGIS roll-outs

Representatives from a variety of mining houses and their service providers gathered on 24 May 2018 at the Killarney Country Club in Johannesburg for Esri South Africa’s Mining User Group (MUG) meeting. Previous MUG events focused on how the ArcGIS for Mining platform could be applied to the mining sector. However, with extensive implementation of the ArcGIS platform taking place on southern African mines, the 2018 MUG saw presenters sharing their experiences of implementing ArcGIS across their organisations.

29 May 2018

In his opening address, Gary Lane from Vuuma Collaborations raised the question of whether organisations are using the increasing volumes of data at their disposal to make better decisions or whether they are suffering from data overload. He suggested that organisations cut down on the data and information noise, and focus instead on the compelling insights that can be offered by the data. He emphasised the importance of understanding business systems and of identifying the specific data that is needed for decision making. He stressed the need to avoid bogging people down with details that they don’t need.

Lane pointed out that many mining activities have inherent variability in performance. To get around this fact he advised delegates to pick out instances of exceptional variability and then identify the management levers in their systems which need to be tweaked in order to improve system performance. He concluded by suggesting that five critical key performance indicators be identified and that data relating to these be put on an organisation’s GIS platform in order to provide insightful information to the right people to enable actionable decisions.

In their presentation, Anglo American’s Pieter Mostert and Quintin Bohr shared details of the challenges they overcame while consolidating disparate GIS solutions into an integrated Enterprise Platform. Communication and collaboration were key to addressing these challenges, they said, and stressed the need to document processes, systems and standards. Sasol’s Andre du Plessis  took the MUG delegates through the process of building a fully integrated, multi-operation Enterprise GIS and emphasised the importance of knowing your audience whether they be technical experts, management or external users.

User uptake on location platforms is a major problem in the mining environment and Esri South Africa’s Richard Kaufholz described how applying a user-centred design process can facilitate uptake, improve efficiency and generate interest in your GIS platform. His tips included talking to the users in order to understand their needs and expectations, making the system intuitive, using keywords that the various categories of users will be familiar with, and leveraging best practice.

Miranda Wilson from AngloGold Ashanti spoke about the experience of rapidly rolling out ArcGIS for Mining across three mines in three countries. The challenges encountered included determining the balance between people, process and technology across diverse operations with complex management issues. She stated that a multi-disciplinary approach was taken and an effort made to determine the needs and challenges of each discipline; apps were also provided to support non-GIS trained spatial data consumers. Initially the project had a restricted scope in order to deliver immediate value with the intention being to scale up incrementally. Wilson said that the way forward includes training disciplined data custodians and optimising processes around data and user management.

In contrast, Mogapi Lesego from Debswana presented on a phased approach to growing the ArcGIS for Mining platform across his organisation. He stated that a dedicated GIS team contributed to the success of the project as did consistent stakeholder engagement, project communication and skills transfer for post-project solution management. Some of the advantages of the phased approach were that the system could be used while the project was still on-going, the project team was able to provide on-site support, and there was a reduced waiting period for functionality. The implementation challenges he outlined were similar to those described by other mining houses. They included issues with user skill levels, the availability of data, a lack of dedicated resources to support the system, and low utilisation of the system.

This was followed by brief presentations from Esri South Africa’s Carl Bester who demonstrated Survey123 for ArcGIS, a simple and intuitive form-centric data gathering solution, and Richard Kaufholz who showed delegates what is possible using 3D datasets and a block model visualisation tool.

Calvin Opiti from Wits Mining Institute gave an interesting talk on applying ArcGIS in an integrated underground mine for real-time monitoring with regards to health and safety matters. He described how sensor integration with the GIS system adds the advantage of location awareness to the decision-making process, in particular, decisions that affect specific mine areas as opposed to the entire mine. This, he said, enables efficient emergency responses by highlighting exit routes, the nearest location of emergency equipment, as well as personnel count at specific locations. In addition, dashboard applications facilitate quick visualisation of reports for location and situational awareness.

The 2018 MUG event also featured presentations by Esri South Africa business partners. Barend Bornman from Aciel Geomatics demonstrated the Leica BLK360, the smallest and lightest imaging laser scanner of its kind. Michael Breetzke from Swift Geospatial described his company’s various satellite and drone imagery offerings and how they integrate with ArcGIS for Mining. Pieter Olivier from M.A.P. Scientific Services spoke about how his company can assist the mining industry with their restoration and rehabilitation requirements.

Contact Richard Kaufholz, Esri South Africa, Tel 011 238 6300



Esri South Africa has been the primary geospatial industry software provider in Southern Africa for the past 25 years. Established in 1989 and with headquarters in Midrand, Gauteng, Esri South Africa has offices nationwide, enabling the company to offer professional, individual client services to its growing user base. The company believes in making a difference by simplifying decisions through spatial solutions, enabling its clients to make responsible and sustainable decisions.

Esri ArcGIS software supports decision-making throughout the entire mining life cycle. Users can access data and smart maps for project planning, mine operations, transportation management, and risk analysis.