Mining University

Rare Earth Elements - Greenest of the Green

The National Mining Association recently came out with an infographic on rare earth elements and their place in modern society. These elements are used in everything from phones, cameras and tablets to military technology including jet engines and night vision goggles.

Rare earth elements are also used in so called 'green' industries. Windmills and electric car batteries use rare earth elements as well as energy efficient light bulbs. Without rare earth elements large and fundamental parts of the 'green' movement would be unavailable.

Unfortunately, the United States is largely dependent on foreign imports for our rare earth elements. Chinese exports supply most of the raw materials that we are so proud of using to protect the environment. As a country, it is in our best interest to encourage the mining of rare earth elements is safe and responsible jurisdictions (America) in order to protect our ability to protect the planet.

Rare Earth Elements
Rare Earth Elements

Polygonal Reserver - Maptek Vulcan

Maptek Vulcan has a new/old scheduling tool called the Polygonal Reserver. I call it new/old because I didn't know that it was a separate module. I originally learned about the polygonal reserver while I was working for Maptek. As an employee I had access to all the sale-able modules. It never occurred to me that this tool, which combines the functionality of two other tools, might not be part of the base module.

The polygonal reserver combines the functionality of the Polygons tool in the Model > Triangle Solid sub-menu with the Advanced Reserves Editor reporting tool. By combining these tools the polygonal reserver allows the user to interactively change the reserve area by modifying points on a polygon. The resulting triangulation and reserve results can then be used to schedule or simply report the mineable tonnage.

If you have spent any time at all with the advanced reserves editor you have probably seen the panel for the polygonal reserver, the 'name' tab under the 'polygons' section. The 'new naming convention' capability seems a little finicky and you can't exclude some of the naming conventions but the default naming convention puts a generic prefix onto the name of the polygon when naming the triangulation. I really dislike this.

The other quirky part of the tool is 'Display grade totals dynamically' on the 'Setup' tab. This functionality requires that a report specification file already be setup in the advanced reserves editor. I completely misunderstood this part of the tool when I ran it for the first time. In my defense, I don't usually use the report tool in advanced reserves so it didn't occur to me that the polygonal reserver would require it. In fact, I don't think anybody uses the report functionality in advanced reserves. Most people just export results to csv and edit the results in Microsoft Excel. Everybody else just uses the dump file. Anyway, without the report spec file there are no results to report in the dynamic window.

Once things were setup correctly, the polygonal reserver worked fine and actually saves a lot of time. I like the tool but am not sure that combining two existing tools is worth purchasing an extra module, especially since the original software package runs in the neighborhood of $50,000.

Numbered Views in Maptek Vulcan

Today we were working on designs in two different parts of the pit that were far apart from each other. I wasn't the one running the mouse and watching someone else zoom in and out to pan from one end of the mine to the other was making me queasy. This reminded me of a tool in Vulcan that I don't use as much as I should: Numbered Views.

The Numbered Views setting in Maptek Vulcan saves the zoomed extents shown in the Envisage window. You can set up to nine views which is more than I have ever been able to keep straight. To use the option zoom and pan the Envisage view until the first view is centered on the desired section of the displayed layers. Next press Shift + 1 to set the Numbered View. Now, when the number '1' is pressed the Envisage window will return to this view. Additional views can be saved using the numbers 1-9. Previous versions of Vulcan only saved these views for the current session of Vulcan. Now, however, the views are saved more permanently so you can go back to the same view every time Vulcan is used.