How new drilling technology could change African mining
WRITTEN BY IAN COCKERILL
If you’d cryogenically frozen a gold miner 100 years ago and brought him back today, he would find little had changed in the way mining works.
This is surprising because everything around us has changed. Energy and water are no longer cheap or plentiful in Africa, and the world expects big business to reduce its environmental impact.
If we are to reverse the decline in African gold production we have seen over the past few years, the industry needs to adapt to the world around it. In particular it needs to reduce the enormous costs of pumping water, compressed air and electricity several kilometres down mines.
I believe at least some of the answers lie with two entrepreneurs who have spent the last 15 years developing a vastly more efficient drilling system for deep level mining. Their company, Peterstow Aquapower, last year opened a state-of-the-art manufacturing factory in Ngwenya, Swaziland.
The system uses patented closed‐loop water hydraulic technology and power packs. The closed-loop design cuts water usage and ensures a more efficient transfer of power to the drill than existing technologies. The power packs are self-contained, eliminating the need for costly infrastructure such as compressed air reticulation columns and high strength water piping.
Compressors account for around 30 percent of installed energy capacity at the average large mine. If you eliminate that energy consumption on half a dozen mines, that saves enough energy to power a town the size of Port Elizabeth.
The result of all these savings is a drill which uses a fraction - trials suggest less than 1 percent - of the energy required by some existing systems and up to 60 percent less water.
Much less energy also means much lower costs. As well as helping meet environmental requirements, there is a real financial case for this system.
Mines are going to come under huge pressure as significant consumers of power and they need to start looking at how they can change. This kind of innovation means mines can reduce their power requirements, and get a much more efficient drill which drills more quickly, offering more operating time at the face.
Times have changed and big business like mining has the capability to put in place a game changing technology to keep up. I believe this is such a technology.
Since this article was written, Ian Cockerill has accepted a role as a non-executive director at Peterstow Aquapower.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”