September 2011 | Mining University

Nevada Supports Mining

As I was driving to work the other day I saw this billboard on the side of the highway.  On my way home I saw another.  Over the next few days I saw several of these billboards in the Reno area, sponsored by the  Nevada Mining Association.  This is great!

For as long as I can remember, the mining industry has been content to play the bad guy.  In movies and television shows and books the villain is frequently a mine or mine owner.  I realize that mining's history isn't the cleanest but we need to look at the present state of the industry.  I also think that when mining is performed in a country with responsible mining regulations (like Nevada, USA) that it is a safe industry both for the employees and the environment.

I am very happy that someone is willing to promote mining as a good and viable part of our economy.  Good work Nevada Mining Association.

Chronos - Sum Product

The first thing I want to do with every Chronos workbook I have ever made is to take each 'WEIGHT' variable in the Reserve sheet and insert a column that multiplies it by the weighting field.  In most cases this is taking the grade and multiplying it by the tons.  Now I finally have a script that does this and it's pretty quick. 
The trick to getting this to run in an acceptable time frame for large numbers of columns was to turn off the screen update and the automatic calculation.  I just tested this on a workbook that has 1,600 columns and the script took about a minute to run.

There are some assumptions that this script makes.  First, it assumes that the 'WEIGHT' columns are to the left of the field by which they are weighted.  Second, it assumes that you haven't manually added any columns that are labeled as type 'WASTE' and don't have a 'weight by' field (yes I actually did this).  Other than that I think it works pretty well.  Let me know if it works for you.

To run the script, copy the code below and paste it into a VBA macro for excel.

Vulcan - Snap Modes

Vulcan snap modes are a powerful tool that allows the user to snap to the exact point specified.  Using snap modes is an important part of creating drafting objects that are precise and accurate.

Whether you know it or not, if you have been digitizing objects in Vulcan, you have been using snap modes.  The default snap mode is called 'Indicate.'  This mode allows the user to specify a point anywhere on screen.  This point will have the easting and northing coordinates of the point that was clicked, but what about the elevation?  If the point was digitized in plan view (click the 'Reset' icon a few times) the point will be at the elevation specified in the 'z' field of the 'Status' toolbar.  If the point was digitized while in a rotated view the elevation of the point (and possibly the easting and northing coordinates) will be at a seemingly random location defined by the Vulcan software.  This tendency for randomness is a big reason that the other snap modes exist.

Just below the primary window and on the left (if you haven't changed the Vulcan layout) you will find the 'Digitise' toolbar (Australian spelling by design).  The first five icons from the left are the snap modes.  The first one is the 'Indicate' snap mode and should be depressed.  The next icon over is called the 'Object' snap mode.  This mode will snap the digitized point to the nearest point or line object.  The elevation coordinate (and northing and easting coordinates in rotated view) is controlled by this intersection with the existing object.  While using the 'Object' snap mode, if you click a point too far away from any object, no point will be created and a warning sound will be played.  This is not a problem, just click the next point closer to an existing object.

Vulcan - Lines and Polygons

Many of the CAD functions in Vulcan are created in the same manner and share common properties.  Lines and polygons are two objects that differ in fundamental ways.  These differences are not detrimental to the user in either case but you should know what the differences are so that you are not surprised when they show up in the normal course of work.
In some other drafting programs (AutoCAD) the difference between a line and a polygon is simply the fact that the first and last points share the same coordinates.  This seems intuitive enough as you are digitizing data but when you stop to think about it, there are really more points on the line than are needed.  A square with four corners would, in this method, need five points (the first and last being the same). 
There is also the problem of the point snap.  I’m sure that all of you are conscientious digitizers and always use the snap to points mode when creating a closed polygon, but what about your co-workers?  When working with a polygon digitized by someone else, how do you know that it is actually closed?

Vulcan > Chronos > Reserve Sheet > Unschedule Blocks

Dear Vulcan,

I am doing a life of mine schedule with your Chronos scheduler (which I love), but I have become very frustrated by the ‘Unschedule Blocks’ option.  Basically, this option will let me unschedule by reserve sheet or by destination/period/block but does not allow me to unschedule multiple periods at the same time.  The flexibility to unschedule a specific block in a specific period for a specific destination is great.  In my current situation, however, I am trying to unschedule multiple periods at once and am frustrated by the need to specify one period, wait for it to unschedule and then specify the next period.

Vulcan - Layers and Points

The basic organizational tool for Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD) data within the Design Graphics Database (DGD) is the Layer.  Layers can have names of up to 40 characters and a description of up to 80 characters.  Layers contain point, line and object data representing, in 3D space, real world locations. 

I was helping a co-worker with Vulcan the other day and was surprised when he asked me what a layer was.  I was shocked.  It has been a long time since I talked to someone who didn't know what a layer was in the CAD sense.  In mining and geology, almost everyone has some exposure to AutoCAD or other drafting software, but that shouldn't be a pre-requisite to using Vulcan.  Think of Vulcan layers as drawings on a Mylar sheet.  A single sheet/layer might contain property boundaries or topography lines and we can stack as many on top of each other as we want.  No matter how many sets of building outlines or lakes and rivers we stack on top of each other we can still remove them individually and store them away for future use.  Layers are not the only method of grouping data but they are the most basic and they are a very powerful tool.