Mining University

Driving Innovation by the National Mining Association

I’m a big fan of anything that casts a good light on the mining industry. The latest project from the National Mining Association (NMA) does just that. This short video is a small reminder of all the good things that come out of the earth for our benefit.

In an era where mining is cast as dirty and evil we need more evidence of the good that responsible mining does for the global economy and our own personal comfort.

Good work to the people at the NMA who produced and funded this clip. I think this is just the sort of advertising the mining industry needs.

Maptek Vulcan 9

Well, Maptek Vulcan 9 is finally here. This version was expected to be released in late 2013 but didn’t make it to market until January 30th. I don’t know what took so long in the development process but 77 new upgrades and bug fixes must have played a role in the delay.

One of the biggest upgrades to Vulcan 9 is the change to how the graphics engine is used. The new version of the software takes advantage of your computer’s graphics card to display 3D images on the screen. This means that really big triangulations and grids won’t slow down the machine as much. Previously, Vulcan had used the central processing unit (cpu) to render images on the screen. This made things slow and cumbersome especially if images were being rotated or magnified. 

I think everyone has run into a situation where rotating a big topography triangulation has become so slow and choppy that they just gave up. Those days are (mostly) over. Vulcan 9 does a great job displaying very large triangulations. This biggest improvement to the software also comes with a warning. Part of the documentation for Vulcan 9 encourages the user to make sure that the graphics driver for their machine is up to date. Apparently, there have been issues with some graphics cards not playing well with the new graphics engine.

The upgrades to Vulcan graphics are all part of the change to the dynamic memory settings. I have always thought that Vulcan’s ‘dynamic memory settings’ naming convention was a bit of a misnomer. Sure you could change the amount of memory assigned to display images vs processing data, but once the software was running you couldn't change how memory was allocated. You had to restart Vulcan to modify the ‘dynamic memory settings.’ In Vulcan 9 that has all gone away. Memory is now managed ‘dynamically’ by the system. Maptek even left a hole in the splash screen where the option used to be so the user can take note of its absence.

Other important items to me in this new version include one that isn't there. In my notes for Vulcan 8.2.2 Maptek promised that spaces in path names for Whittle import would be fixed. I must have been too liberal in my description of what needed to be fixed. The guys at Maptek fixed the space name problem for Vulcan block model file names but the .res and .par files (the essence of what you are importing from Whittle) that are what is being imported still don’t like spaces in the file names. The Maptek guys tell me that this is recorded as bug number VUL-29545 and will be fixed at some future dateL.

Sturgis, South Dakota Mining Ordinance

County Commissioners in Meade County, South Dakota are seeking to create a zoning ordinance for mining in order to allow for a mining ordinance to be created. The mining ordinance is needed to allow gold mining in old tailings piles near Whitewood Creek. Residents of the county are eager to welcome new jobs into the area. County Commissioner Alan Aker, who proposed the zoning ordinance, seems to understand the importance of allowing and regulating mining activities on his home turf.

As part of the discussion about the zoning ordinance the environmentalists put in their two cents. As stated in the Meade County Times-Tribune:
Environmentalist Nancy Hilding of Black Hawk said while she doesn't disagree with the county's desire to pass a mining ordinance, she believes much more work and research must first be done to write an effective ordinance.
This attitude toward developing natural resources is deceptively rational. Any intelligent human being will agree that research must be done before passing any ordinance. That's the whole point of government regulation. The problem becomes apparent only as time goes by. Environmentalists have discovered that if they can force research of a given issue to go on for long enough that eventually all development programs will go away.

I'm not saying that all mining permits should be approved out of hand. Regulating of all industries is important to our country and planet. As reasonable people, we simply need to be able to say when enough research has happened and it's okay to allow jobs to be created and the economy to thrive.