Innovation: Combining World-Class Technology and Mining Industry Expertise

DataCloud has assembled a best-in-class group of experts from the technology industry and top-tier institutions such as UC Berkeley, Cambridge, and Stanford. The team has deep expertise in the geosciences, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and artificial intelligence. Our purpose is to deliver high-resolution, rock mass characterization data, to our clients in real-time. Doing so improves the productivity of mining operations, and allows our clients to achieve the following:

Reduce ore and coal loss
Enhance grade control
Increase throughput and production
Improve fragmentation
Accelerate cycle times
Lower costs
Strengthen social licenses to operate

The DataCloud Platform: High-Resolution Subsurface Insights Provided by Real-Time Orebody Imaging

Accurately understanding an orebody when making production decisions, represents the highest value creation opportunity for mining operators. To help mining companies acquire these insights quickly enough to matter, DataCloud has built a turnkey, real-time rock mass characterization Platform. The DataCloud Platform measures and delivers subsurface properties required to significantly enhance orebody understanding during drill and blast (D&B) operations. The Platform is based on advanced real-time digital technologies such as IoT sensor systems, edge devices, cloud computing, geostatistical algorithms, machine learning, and high-resolution subsurface visualization. The resultant information and capabilities are available for clients to access in our Platform software. These can also be imported directly into clients’ block models or exported to a database of their choosing.

RHINO: Seamless D&B Blast Hole Measurements Provided Via IoT Sensors and Edge Computing

Our IoT sensors and edge computing devices entail the first part of the DataCloud Platform. These devices are the hardware we install on D&B drills. Collectively, we refer to this D&B measurement kit as RHINO, and we use it to make multiple independent vibration measurements of the rock that is being drilled. Vibration signatures in the drill steel are acquired via IoT devices and wirelessly transmitted to an edge device we put in the driller’s cab. Initial processing is performed on the edge device, prior to compressing the IoT data and streaming it to the cloud via cellular or WiFi networks in real-time.

The numerous rock mass measurements we collect with RHINO, are directly related to the modulus of the rock being drilled. The blast hole logs RHINO generates are between 1-centimeter and 5-centimeters of resolution, depending on the rate of penetration (ROP) when drilling. RHINO has successfully logged blast holes on rotary drills, single and multi-pass drills, and down-the-hole (DTH) hammer drills in many types of rock ranging from soft coal to granite to iron ore to porphyritic base and precious metals. The hardware is “set and forget” simple. It is robust, reliable, proven, and requires only about an hour to rig up.

The ability to discern iron ore from waste rock is clearly shown in this example of RHINO blast hole logs (with headers removed).

MinePortal: Geostatistical Algorithms, and Machine Learning, Powered by Scalable, Distributed Cloud Computing

The RHINO data that streams to the cloud from our edge device in the driller’s cab, lands in MinePortal, which is the second part of the DataCloud Platform. MinePortal is a shared earth model that is accessed via browsers or mobile devices. This software performs geospatial interpretations on the RHINO data to provide clients a high-resolution, real-time understanding of their recently drilled patterns. Depending on a variety of factors, rock mass characterization data MinePortal can make available to clients includes the following:

Ore and waste boundaries
Fracture identification, rock quality designation, and block size distributions
Uniaxial compressive strength
Poisson’s ratio
Young’s modulus
Bulk modulus

Because MinePortal was “born in the cloud,” it does not contain legacy PC architecture limitations that affect traditional mining software. MinePortal is infinitely scalable, and can support unlimited users, all while simultaneously supporting operations at connected mines across the globe. It leverages the power of the cloud to deliver nearly instantaneous and massive computational capabilities. MinePortal also accepts third party and historical mine data, which enables sophisticated data science investigations with machine learning and artificial intelligence to be easily performed on very large datasets.

Competition: The DataCloud Platform Compared to Legacy MWD Rock Mass Evaluation Techniques

Measurement (or monitoring) while drilling (MWD) techniques have been widely used for rock mass evaluation purposes in the mining industry for over 20-years. The method relies on measurements of drill parameters such as weight on bit (WOB), ROP, torque, and bit position. Vibration and air pressure are also recorded but not frequently used to evaluate rock properties. From these measurements, a calculation of mechanical specific energy (MSE) is made to determine the energy required to remove a certain volume of rock. MSE is often translated into a blastability index (BI), but the two are largely identical in trend.

Because the MSE calculation is based on drill system performance, it is affected heavily by the underlying drilling efficiency parameters that comprise its inputs. It is also impacted by external factors such as bit wear, depth of the hole, deviation, and other drilling variables. Accordingly, MSE becomes too skewed by subtle differences in equipment condition and drilling techniques to be a reliable indicator of rock properties. When discussing the effectiveness of MSE as an indicator of rock properties, many experienced D&B engineers remark, “I see more driller in the measurement, than I do rock.” It is for the reasons summarized above that experienced users of MSE and BI measurements justifiably reach this conclusion.

We believe direct, simple, and high-resolution measurements of multiple rock parameters collected from a single IoT sensor package located on the drill steel (as we do with RHINO), is a better way to evaluate the rock mass, than using these indirect, legacy MWD techniques. We have the data to prove this and we welcome the opportunity to discuss our views in greater detail.

Disruption: Just Say “No”

A one-time installation of the RHINO devices on D&B drills is the only additional step we need clients to accept for us to deploy our real-time, high-resolution rock mass evaluation Platform at their mines. With that step completed, all subsequent DataCloud workflows happen in the cloud.

It is our mission to make high-resolution rock mass data available to clients with minimal disruption. Doing so represents a significant evolution of orebody imaging capabilities in the mining industry. We want to make it easy for clients to improve productivity, profitability, and safety, while lessening the environmental impact of their operations. To achieve this goal, we deliver the resultant orebody characterization data we generate to clients via their block models, a server location, or any other way they’d like to receive it. Minimal disruptions and maximum value creation. By seamlessly providing enhanced orebody knowledge, we are able to help clients achieve material production improvements with lower unit processing costs.

Delivering these insights is at the core of how DataCloud is helping its clients to master the subsurface and “Know the Rock.” Please contact us to learn more.