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Collaboration – CEMI spearheads development of online mine design handbook

September 1, 2009
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News with 0 Comments

The Sudbury-based Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) is spearheading the development of an online mine design handbook that could serve as the definitive mine design resource for mining engineers and students.

The handbook will embrace the wiki format, an increasingly popular online communication and collaboration tool that could one day make textbooks obsolete. The idea originated in discussions with senior executives at Vale Inco who thought it would be useful to collect and preserve the vast body of mine design knowledge. “We also thought it would be a way to identify areas of research that were lacking and areas where new mine design tools need to be developed,” said project manager and CEMI R&D program manager Glenn Lyle.The handbook will focus on maximizing the value from a mineral deposit.

“We looked at the resources available for people in mine design,” said Steve McKinnon, editor of the handbook and associate head of Mining Engineering at Queen’s University. “First of all, there’s no single book that people can go to. The information is widely scattered and a lot of it is in people’s heads. Many of the reference books that are used are too specialized, too simple or out of date and none of them capture the wisdom of experienced mining engineers.”

The wiki format is ideal for young, tech-savvy engineers who are comfortable with looking things up online, said McKinnon. The handbook will be seeded by professionals and academics selected to tackle a prescribed number of topics. Once it’s published and online, the mining community at-large will be engaged to flesh it out. It will be an ideal opportunity for retired mining engineers, for example, to impart some of the knowledge they have accumulated during their careers, he added. However, it won’t be a free-for-all like Wikipedia, the popular granddaddy of wikis to which authors contribute and edit articles anonymously.

Moderated

“We don’t want that to happen,” said McKinnon. “We want to have the articles written by well-known people so it will be clear to users that a person of some expertise has written it and that it has been peer reviewed.” It will be moderated, or overseen, by an editorial board to ensure quality control.

“We want to create something that will be a living document and that will be updated beyond our shorter-term vision,” said McKinnon. “It can be easily edited and modified so it doesn’t just become a book on a shelf.”

Wikis are also easily searchable, offer links to related articles and include discussion pages, or forums, where readers can comment on or debate an issue. They also accommodate graphics, spreadsheets and videos. The discussion functionality will serve as a valuable resource “because we’re all aware that some areas of mine design are a bit tricky or contentious and there may be alternative views,” said McKinnon.

Topics will include sustainability, geological models, geomechanics, milling, processing, ventilation, mining methods, mine design, infrastructure design, simulation, scheduling and economic risk analysis, among others. Case studies will also be included.

The handbook will be targeted to professional mining engineers doing scoping studies, feasibility studies and mine design work, but will also serve as a resource for mining engineering students.

Users will be able to access the Mine Design Handbook from the CEMI website before the end of the year and possibly as early as September, said Lyle.

Authors interested in contributing articles are invited to contact Glenn Lyle, [email protected]

www.miningexcellence.ca

 

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