Optimising the pit-to-port supply chain with BOLT


We spoke to E&MJ (Engineering and Mining Journal) in their March edition about how Industrial Mathematics and BOLT recently helped optimise pit-to-port supply chains for two major clients.

BOLT is Polymathian’s integrated mine planning software capable of simultaneously optimising an entire value chain. In speaking with E&MJ, we discussed how it was applied to two major mining system projects to realise significant value from pit-to-port.

The first project was an Australian thermal coal mine with a wash plant that transports 11 million metric tons of product per year 130 kilometers (km) from the Hunter Valley to ports in Newcastle, New South Wales. That equates to about 115 trains a month cycling between the port and the mine, with multiple customers to keep happy, and millions of variables to be simultaneously solved across the supply chain.

Jonathon White, Director and Polymathian co-founder said, “In this case, we were really making decisions regarding stockpiling. Should the coal go to the run-of-mine (RoM) stockpile or the crusher? If it reports to the RoM stockpile, how long should it stay there? Once it passed the crusher, what type of processing should be used? How should the processing plant operate?”

The deployment of BOLT enabled the decision-making process to be both automated and optimized, resulting in a 10% increase to profit margins which according to White, “was mostly related to avoiding penalties, better wash plant operations and the improved marketing of unsold coal”.

In the second case study shared for the article, we discuss how BOLT solved multiple problems across the supply chain for a mining company in Brazil who were blending 15 million mt/y of iron ore and maintaining 10 different stockpiles at a nearby port. They wanted to better track the four qualities of iron ore the mine produced, but before deploying BOLT had no visibility over actual stockpile levels and attributes, and were just meeting demand by filling vessel quotas with no guarantee of optimality.

“They needed help scheduling everything from the plant to the vessel,” White said. BOLT solved multiple problems across the supply chain from stockpiles to blending to demurrage to marketing, even making decisions for uncommitted tons of iron ore, all of which resulted in tremendous savings. It also enabled planning engineers to run “what if” scenarios to make high-value decisions such as incurring one day of demurrage today to avoid 10 days of demurrage down the road.

"BOLT, our mine supply chain planning tool, solves for the entire value chain all at once", White said. “The miners will enter what’s coming out of the pit. The marketing team enters the sales. The plant will enter product quality data. BOLT makes decisions on supply and demand based on the data input into the system.”

EM&J note that Polymathian's approach differs from other analytics companies, who review historical data to see what happened, where we excel in the prescriptive side of analytics, applying advanced mathematics to solve complex problems by looking at the current situation and delivering the mathematically optimal solution.

Read the article in full (pages 46 to 49) from the March 2020 EM&J edition here.

Find out more about BOLT or arrange a demo here.


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