Chipping mines

  • 29/04/1995

MINING for minerals is one of humankind's oldest industrial activities, and one of the most complex. Only very recently have computers found their way into the mining industry. Initially, computerisation was limited to office administration. Now, a more important application is being implemented -- project management. This book deals with well established computer-based project techniques from other industries like power, chemicals, etc, as applicable to the mining industry.

There are very few computer installations in India which are being utilised to their full power and capacity. The book describes what can go wrong if the man-machine interface is badly planned, not the least of which is money lost in buying hardware and software incompatible with the job at hand.

This book could be of much service to the Indian mineral industry in educating it. It also discusses state-of-the-art technologies in the developed countries. The US government offers the mining industry a huge database which includes information on technology, workers' health, environment impact of the technologies, etc. The US Bureau of Mines' Land and Mineral Resources Programme keeps the database on minerals available in the Minerals Availability System (MAS). There is also the MSHA, a database on mine safety and health adminstration. It is statutory for the mining industry to respond to these databases regularly.

In India, the government has not yet enforced such a database on the mostly public sector mining industry. And there are access glitches. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), for instance, has a large weather database which is used in the environmental assessments of effluent-emitting industries. To use this, however, one has to place the particular data on order, go to the IMD and record it on a floppy.

Most available software developed for the mining industry is the adaptable IBM PC-DOS-based. The hardware comes cheaper. A notable software is the indigenously-developed CRYSTAL, an application software on deposits in India of copper and limestone for geomodelling and open pit design. It comes with a data organisation module, geostatics for local estimation, the Lersch-Grossman technique for open-pit design, floating cone algorithms and linear programming for production scheduling. The CMC, in fact, has plans to enhance CRYSTAL's capabilities to meet the requirements of seam mining.

---G Churai is a Delhi-based software consultant.

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