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Laguna Gold mines nuggets of data insight with transition to Microsoft Azure

When a truck tyre costs $4,000 apiece and you purchase $4,000,000 of explosives annually it is important to know you’re buying the right thing at the right time.

Information transparency is one of the key goals for the digital transformation underway at mining firm Laguna Gold.

The transformation began with Laguna Gold’s 2016 purchase of the El Toqui zinc-gold-silver and lead mine in southern Chile from Nyrstar.  Laguna Gold needed to gain much greater insights into its mining operations today – but using a system that would scale in line with its growth ambitions for tomorrow.

While Laguna Gold inherited an instance of SAP along with the purchase of El Toqui mine – it was being used almost exclusively to manage finances. By deploying SAP into Azure Brian Reynolds, Executive General Manager of IT at Laguna Gold, expects to be able to make greater use of SAP to secure much better enterprise visibility enabling greater organisational agility, flexibility and data driven decision making – in real time.

The El Toqui mine and processing plant is a data rich environment, Laguna Gold’s strategy is to enable a digital platform able to support an Internet of Things that can be utilised to provide a real time view of the operations allowing for greater management control and improved operational efficiencies.  This is evident in El Toqui’s power generation and control where up to 60% of El Toqui’s power requirements come from renewable sources.

Leveraging Azure assures the company of the global reach it needs. Currently mining operations are overseas, with approximately 500 people working onsite in southern Chile – but Laguna Gold Ltd is managed by an Australia-based executive team of just 9 who need a single source of truth about mine operation to be instantly available.

The El Toqui operations utilises multiple vendor partners to provide specialised services, for example, logistics giant Sodexo handles much of the mine support activities, there are also transport, metallurgical services, specialised drilling contractors and the Laguna Gold exploration team, so Laguna also needed an information system that could break open data silos by easily collecting data from these vendor partners to provide a window on the mine operations in near real time.

“We need to have good visibility of what’s going on ultimately in real time. Now we find out about things a little bit late.”

– Brian Reynolds, Executive General Manager of IT at Laguna Gold

Laguna Gold has now transitioned its service tools and risk management to the cloud and crafted a blueprint for how it wants the digital platform to extend in the future.

To create that single source of truth Reynolds says’ “We’d want a screen up on the wall here that has the dashboard that shows the operations in Chile. And as we expand as a company we’ll have a dashboard up for El Toqui and then one for mine ‘x’ and one for mine ‘y’ and that will give us a holistic view of our operations.”

Microsoft partner Acclimation has supported Reynolds with the transition of SAP onto Azure, and with expert advice about how Azure can act as the digital platform to support Laguna Gold’s longer-term ambitions and needs.

“We’re a lean operation with a small IT team so when something goes wrong we need to be able to call on our strategic partners. And I’m glad to say, certainly in the last 12 months I don’t think we’ve had technical issue. Certainly, we haven’t had an outage,” Reynolds adds.

“We were very pleased with the outcome the teams delivered. The program was challenging as it included carving out the Laguna El Toqui operations from a large highly customised SAP system, standing up a new tiered landscape with high availability and disaster recovery in the Microsoft Azure Brazilian data centre and without any impact to the users when they logged in on the Monday morning” says Cameron Sherrard Managing Partner of Acclimation.

With the initial phase of the transformation well advanced, Laguna Gold is already benefitting from improved quality of information. Reynolds expects that there will be quantifiable benefits from improved asset management emerging shortly.

“We’ve made a commitment to a path with our Azure Cloud environment.  It’s a strategic decision that we’ve made, and it makes a lot of sense: robustness, scalability, functionality, how we tie these things together. It seems like a fairly obvious choice.”