Joining the dots to win Maptek Mine Design Prize

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Claiming the 2020 Maptek Mine Design Prize represented an important mission accomplished for the winning team.

Zulfiqar Ali, Iven Tan, Joven Tan, Gal-Erdene Battsengel and Bing Liu won this year’s annual  prize which is open to groups of final year University of Adelaide Mining Engineering students.

The industry-focused project allowed them to connect different facets of their study and harness skills they will apply in their future careers.

Iven Tan, Joven Tan, Zulfiqar Ali, Gal-Erdene Battsengel with Maptek founder Dr Bob Johnson (far left) and University of Adelaide  Postgraduate Research Coordinator Associate Professor Chaoshui Xu (far right).

Ali said it was amazing to win the prize where teams work to create optimised mine designs and schedules using Vulcan mine planning software.

It’s such a good feeling and it’s been a strong motivation for all of us,’ Ali said.

‘This design project brings in all the previous knowledge gained throughout your program and puts it together.’

When Ali completes his studies he will return to Pakistan to work for the company that has sponsored his studies.

‘One instruction they gave me was that I needed to learn Vulcan because they are looking to implement it.’

This year’s project was to generate a life of mine plan for a copper and gold resource. It required the evaluation of data accompanied by research to determine economic parameters suitable for the chosen style of mining.

A combination of open cut and underground mining was needed to maximise the commercial exploitation of the resource. 

‘We had to apply all our knowledge of resource estimation and mine planning optimisation.

‘There was a lot of team effort to define the open pit and decide what type of underground mining method to adopt. 

‘We had to look for sub-level caving or block caving according to the geotechnical factors and determine if it was feasible.

‘Ultimately after doing all the analysis we found that block caving was the ideal method.’

Maptek Senior Technical Sales Specialist, Steve Sullivan said the winning team provided the best integration and transition between the open cut and underground mining phases of this project.

‘Their research provided pragmatic selection of mining equipment within a geotechnically safe operating design,’ Sullivan said.

‘As a former university prize winner myself, I can appreciate the feelings of the 2020 winners. Recognition of their efforts outside of the university system, by an industry leader, should assist them in their future careers. 

Providing real life experiences is important to put context to education. It is not sufficient for students to just learn how to use software, it is about providing them with the what, where and why of mine design. In my own career as a geologist I have learnt how important it is to provide the best possible resource model to the mine designers.’ 

‘Thank you to the internal Maptek teams for providing the software, documentation and training materials for use in education.’

Maptek founder Bob Johnson speaks with the prize winners.

Four members of the team were presented with the award by Maptek founder Bob Johnson, at the company’s Adelaide base this month. Dr Johnson began his career teaching Applied Geology at Uni NSW, and he spoke to them about the importance of getting geological models right.

‘He said we don’t have to just trust whatever the geologists say – we have to double check,’ Battsengel commented. ‘Everything is based on the geology.’

The prize was first introduced in 2010 and is part of the long and proud history Maptek has of supporting students and academic institutions.

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