June 2011

28th Annual Mintec Seminar in Review

Free to some, priceless to others, the annual Mintec Seminar continues to enlighten after 28 years.

Justin Watson of Snowden at the podium for his presentation on the use of MineSight software at the Barnes Hill Nickel Laterite Deposit in Tasmania. Watson was one of eight client-presenters at April’s Mintec Seminar in Tucson, Arizona.

"It's a huge benefit to discover how other clients are utilizing MineSight, judging by what was learned in the industry presentations," said Don Mills, Chief Geologist with Teck Coal, after April's Mintec Seminar.

"The presentations and workshops fill in the gaps on what's discussed in the monthly newsletters, and provide a window into the direction the MineSight software is heading," added Mills. "Coming to the seminar is our opportunity to influence that progression."

Now in its 42nd year, Mintec is thriving in middle age. The oldest mining software company in business held its 28th annual seminar April 11-15.

More than 140 MineSight clients accepted Mintec's invitation to attend the historic Westward Look Resort in Tucson. They enjoyed a varied program of presentations, workshops, and staff-client one-on-one sessions.

"I have only had the opportunity to participate in two Mintec seminars and have been very impressed with the approach Mintec has taken in developing a technology solution flexible enough to handle any mining data," said Russell Owen, a blasting engineer with Freeport McMoRan at Morenci mine in Arizona. Many considered Owen's presentation – Improved fragmentation through data integration - to be the talk of the seminar.

AMEC-Vancouver Prinicpal Geologist Ron Parent, who also presented, was equally effusive. "I find the seminar to be an exceptional experience in learning and networking," said Parent, who attended his first Mintec Seminar in 1994. "Keep up the good work, especially with the technical support, which is second to none."

Clients listen to a MineSight presentation during this year’s Mintec Seminar, held April 11-15 at Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

Parent, who was one of eight client presenters, had an ulterior motive for his talk, "Using geophysical log data with MineSight 3D".

"I volunteered to do a presentation to ensure I could come," added Parent.

Clearly, Mintec benefits as much from the seminar as do guests.

"For Mintec, it's a valuable opportunity to receive the feedback so vital to improving our software," said Mintec President John Davies.

Mintec staff outnumbered clients for the first time - a reflection of the company's growth. The Tucson-based company now employs about 180 people. About three quarters of them are technical staff.

"This means even more software development and more products to come," said Davies in his opening remarks. "It also means more technical staff to assist you in training, implementation, project assist and technical support."

Davies went on to outline other developments since last year's Mintec Seminar.

  • License sales doubled.
  • Eight seminars worldwide, attracting almost 500 clients.
  • A new office about to open in London and another office expected to open in Mexico later this year.
  • Significant product improvements, including three releases of MineSight 3D, MineSight Data Analyst, MineSight Torque. And among short term planning tools, four releases of MineSight Haulage and MineSight Schedule Optimizer.
  • Long term planning saw enhancements to MineSight Economic Planner and MineSight Strategic Planner. The production side saw the introduction of MineSight Axis and its operational tools for grade control, drill and blast, and reconciliation and reporting.

Dining and networking in full swing on the roof of the Westward Look Resort, which hosted this year's Mintec Seminar.

Looking to the future, Davies said that 64-bit applications will begin to appear in 2011.

"We will continue to be a major provider of generalized mine planning software, with products focused on an end to end solution," he said. To that end, added Davies, more work is under way on data integration, workflows and data management, and web-based reporting.

"We will continue to integrate with third-party products closely through appropriate technologies. And we will speed up the turnaround of information between planning and operations – a critical component of autonomous mining."

Feature presentations by Mintec technical staff and by clients kicked off the week, before more detailed workshops demonstrating MineSight applications. (See "By The Numbers" below for a snapshot of workshop attendance.) Many clients took advantage of one-on-one technical support sessions to discuss their own data and challenges. Client feedback sessions aimed at improving MineSight software were also popular. Guests received the 2011 Q2 MineSight Update DVD, which features more details on the latest product enhancements.

Key client presentations included MineSight's applications at work in the following:

  • Goldcorp's Perseo Anaya on MineSight as an exploration tool at Marigold Mine in Nevada.
  • SIM Geological's Rob Sim on designing a drilling program and contouring model data.
  • Freeport-McMoRan's Russell Owen on improved fragmentation through data integration at Morenci Mine in Arizona.
  • AMEC's Ron Parent on using geophysical log data with MineSight 3D.
  • Snowden's Justin Watson on MineSight's various applications at the Barnes Hill Nickel Laterite Deposit in Tasmania.
  • Tim Whillans of Whillans Mine Studies on MineSight for planning development and production at San Rafael El Placer Deposit in Bolivar, Venezuela.
  • Mike Takkinen of B.C., Canada-based Moose Mountain Technical Services on modeling complex coal at scoping, feasibility and operational levels of detail.
  • Kirkham Geosystems' Garth Kirkham on 3D modeling of the Idaho Silver Valley with MineSight.

Away from the air conditioned conference rooms, networking prevailed. Mintec staff and guests mingled at mealtimes on Westward Look's rooftop terrace, and at an evening barbecue, where a rattlesnake added some drama.

Staff and clients mingle around the campfire at the seminar barbecue, held at the Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Then the rattlesnake showed up.

The Western Diamondback was spotted near the campfire, heading for the dance floor. Quick intervention by resort staff came to the relief of everyone, except for Mintec's Toronto branch manager, Richard Moffett, who missed the excitement.

"I've come to more seminars than I can remember – I even spent three months in the desert – and I've still never seen a live rattlesnake," said Moffett, who was still on the lookout for one at the following afternoon's golf tournament.

Mintec Chairman and founder Fred Banfield led 10 staff-client foursomes onto the Vistoso course with annual bragging rights on the line. Banishing the memory of last year's victory by John Davies' foursome, Team Banfield (James Faraday-Norwest, Jim Gray- Moose Mountain Technical Services, Ian Knuckey-Baymag, and Fred) emerged victorious with an impressive score of nine-under.

Meanwhile, Team Great Potential (names withheld to protect the innocent) lent some symmetry to the scorecard, hacking their way to nine-over.

Mike Takkinen (Moose Mountain Technical Services) and Justin Watson (Snowden) won the longest drive competition, and nearest-the-pin honors went to Randy Childers (Unimin) and MineSight specialist Ernesto Vivas.

The Mintec Seminar may be over for another year, but clients can still take advantage of many other training opportunities at MineSight regional seminars around the world. This month sees Mintec's Australian branch (MineSight Applications) host its annual seminar at Matilda Bay, WA, June 9-10. 

Mintec thanks everyone who attended this year's seminar. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Westward Look Resort, May 7-11 in 2012.

For more information, visit www.minesight.com

Vistoso Golf Club in Tucson hosted this year's seminar tournament.


78: Number of people who attended the MineSight 3D New Tools workshop – the best attended of all 23 workshops at the Mintec Seminar. Second- and third-best attended workshops were MineSight Tips and Tricks (74), and MS3D Tools for Surfaces and Solids (70). The total number of workshop attendees: 973.

142: Total attendance at the Mintec Seminar. In fact, 143 registered, but a client presenter from South America was denied a visa by the United States. Interestingly, he shares the same name as the leader of Cuba. Attendance broken down by country is as follows: U.S. 71; Canada 47; Mexico 12; Peru 5; Australia 2; Panama 2; Dominican Republic 2; Bolivia 1.

53: Number of companies represented.

37: Number of mines represented.

?: Number of balls lost by Team Great Potential still awaiting confirmation by Vistoso Golf Club, Tucson.


"MineSight Data Analyst is a fantastic tool for statistical analysis. The custom report feature makes statistical reporting a breeze. It is easy to use and detailed statistical summaries can be completed in minutes. It saves so much time."

- Justin Watson of Snowden on MSDA's contribution at the Barnes Hill Nickel Laterite Deposit in Tasmania.

"It's a thing of beauty."

- Garth Kirkham of Kirkham Geosystems extolls the virtues of MineSight 3D while describing the process of assembling multiple data sources – everything from linens, paper data, large data sets from different owners, and multiple coordinate systems – into one platform.

"MineSight helps us get closer to reality."

- Goldcorp's Perseo Anaya on MineSight as an exploration tool at Marigold Mine in Nevada.

"I've been a MineSight user for 21 years and it is by far and away, the best of the bunch."

- Ron Parent of AMEC

"This tool is fantastic. We've caught more things in less time than ever before. We're no longer breaking teeth on shovels, we're being proactive. With MineSight Axis Drill&Blast, Morenci can monitor, report, and respond to these new technologies in near-real-time.

- Russell Owen, of Freeport-McMoRan-Morenci. The company invested in imaging and drill fleet management technologies, and used MineSight to manage and analyze the data. In three years, it saved more than $120 million on horizontal accuracy.