MinePortal adds auto void detection to list of solutions

In order to increase mine safety, DataCloud has added auto void detection to its MinePortal software as Steven Putt, director of Mining Software Solutions at DataCloud explains.
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A look inside MinePortal, DataCloud’s software, detecting voids during drilling and showing the mapping them in 3D

Steven Putt

An operation's safety and efficiency are jeopardised when voids in the subsurface go undetected while mining through historic underground workings. The safety of personnel and equipment is at risk and operational delays are inevitable.

To combat these challenges, here at DataCloud, we process blasthole drilling data in near real-time and cross analyse the measurements with other datasets, both historical and incoming. These insights are coupled with visualisations of the voids and alerts to notify all team members of their presence and properties at the right time.

Values of void detection

  • Safety: unknowingly walking, driving, or operating over an undetected void rather than solid ground is a huge risk
  • Blasting: drill and blast teams adapt plans to use the proper amount of explosives to maintain confinement, to prevent misfires, and to meet fragmentation requirements
  • Grade: you can expect high grade near the void as this is where older generations of miners would have been following profitable ore


Relying on manual logging from a drill operator to mark one of these holes is a time-consuming process. It leads to inconsistent and slow reporting, resulting in the important geology information not shared with the right person at the right time.

With automated interpretations of drill hole data, mine sites can significantly improve safety because teams are immediately alerted to voids. These alerts allow each operation to proceed with confidence towards a safer and more productive site.

Rapid processing

MinePortal's ability to rapidly process drilling data and automate detections of geological features increases safety at mine sites. This is a step-change improvement for operations that have added precautionary measures to their open pit operations where old underground workings are present. These mine sites reduce the risk and costs associated with hand-written comments thanks to real-time analysis and alerts. We have seen some mines dedicate an entire drill team to identifying these voids even before drilling blast holes. This is, of course, a huge time and cost consumer. Being able to detect voids automatically while drilling blast holes speeds up mine operations and cuts costs.

Another way DataCloud adds to our client's efficiency is by setting up daily reports. These reports are custom built based on client requirements and concerns. They include a list of high-risk drill holes and their log trace -- showing the exact location of voids in each hole. Reports give a map of the entire pattern showing a variety of properties to give spatial context to any patterns emerging.

Real-time alerts are sent via text message for critical events such as multiple holes with high void percentages. The information is shared across all teams -- from supervisors to engineers -- and can be visualised by everyone in 3D. Mine site operators now have a holistic comprehension of voids to greatly improve safety and productivity from planning to blasting.

Benefits of Automating Void Detection

  • Increase safety: alerts and daily reports of void detection helps teams decide how to adapt
  • Save time: takes away the responsibility of manually entering comments into the drill system by how the blast hole drill is behaving and processes data faster
  • Save cost: reduces time on the job and costs of efforts to avoid safety risks
  • Optimise: creates a foundation for data-driven decision making and shared rock knowledge across teams

Cloud computing is an engineer's and a geologist's best friend. Let me explain what I mean by that. Manually processing your blast hole drill's rate of penetration (ROP) is not easy nor consistent enough to increase assurance and safety.

Hand-written or manually coded comments are largely based on operator experience and other biases. These comments are then read one by one by an engineer and entered into a database for further review, which can take several hours to complete. Once data is digitised into one area, it must be reviewed for validity and patterns, which is difficult when this data is in tabular form. The best way to see spatial trends is to view data in 3D.

Using software to reconcile data from your drilling system and manual logs leads to highly accurate and prompt detections. Cross analysing insights to other data points eliminates noise from anomalies.

MinePortal filters outliers, like preconditioning, and matches the drill's response to a legitimate void versus the drill's response to simply a high ROP.

We apply machine learning to the data to continually improve the identification of voids, tunnels, stopes, and veins. Machine learning allows us to improve the void detection process by validating detected voids against driller comments or existing void maps. It also helps us find false positives based on feedback from operations after the blast has been excavated and no voids have been confirmed. The void detection algorithms continuously improve from these feedback loops, which leads to further increases in confidence.

Use in your workflow

MinePortal gives everyone seamless access to all location-based information related to the mine to mill process. A mine site's single source of truth to its geology is available fast and securely with a simple browser login, backed by Microsoft Azure. This improves collaboration by allowing each operation to work with others towards a common goal and to track progress as a team.

Engineering time that is currently spent on data manipulation can now be focused on analysis and optimisation. In the words of our CEO, Thor Kallestad: "We're not interested in disrupting anything," we are interested in working seamlessly with current operations for easy implementation and fast results.

We want to set mines up to benefit now and exponentially so later on. Right now, that means increasing safety and reducing operational delays. This will help build total mine to mill optimisation later.