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Data Management 

 
Authors: Jack Caldwell

Summary

This review describes the concepts of data management and tries to sort through the claims made on the web for codes to manage data. The review outlines what kind of education and qualifications a mine data manager needs. It also examines several data management consultants, associations, websites, and software.

INTRODUCTION

If you can measure it, you can manage it. Data on the mine comes in many forms, and data management takes many forms. In this review, I try to sort through some of the many concepts of data management on the web and the many claims made on the web for codes to manage data.

STAFF

What education do you need to be a data manager on a mine? Maybe you need to be a trained database administrator. I don't think the link actually defines what a database administrator is, but it at least notes that such a person should have a system to manage data that incorporates these desiderata:
  • Recoverability - Creating and testing Backups
  • Integrity - Verifying or helping to verify data integrity
  • Security - Defining and/or implementing access controls to the data
  • Availability - Ensuring maximum uptime
  • Performance - Ensuring maximum performance given budgetary constraints
  • Development and testing support - Helping programmers and engineers to efficiently utilize the database.

Thus it seems that as long as you are reasonably intelligent, maybe with a degree in science or engineering, and you like sitting at a computer, you can apply for the job. The U.S. Department of Labor has the most intelligent examination of the skills set required to manage data in the modern world, and presumably on a mine. They note that in 2004, the median salary for a data analyst was $60,600. Probably it is more now for those on mines, but I cannot establish more.

I checked out the jobs on InfoMine Careers: Upon entering the keywords "database administrator" I found a few jobs. A couple of them were for geological database administrators, and one was for a GIS database administrator.
You can try your own job searches as well.

CONSULTANTS

There are consultants standing by ready to help the miner with data management. Their areas of expertise differ; some focusing on geological data management, some on environmental data management, some on land title management, and some on operational data management. Let us start with document management. Innovative Innovations appears to provide comprehensive services in this regard.

Union Data Solutions and many others provide GIS and GPS data management-related services. Algosys specializes in the analysis of process data and hence the optimization of mineral processing plants.

THEORY

The best background overview I have found is B.W. Downing writing on the management and analysis of Acid Rock Drainage data. Pincock Allen & Holt has two publications in the InfoMine library that both survey the entire field of data management in the minerals industry. (The second paper is at this link.)

ASSOCIATIONS & WEBSITES

The Data Management Association bills itself as the "Premier Organization for Data Professionals Worldwide." There is also the Association of Information Technology Professionals. And very quickly we stray into the much larger world of the Information Technology Industry, and so I go no further.

In Canada there is the Information Resource Management Association. In Australia there is the Records Management Association.

The site for the TechRepublic contains much valuable information, including technical papers.

SearchDataManagement.com brings you news on data management trends and technology.

BOOKS

Amazon.com lists Guidelines to Implementing Data Resource Management and other relevant books.

SOFTWARE

Here is the problem:
Exploration and mining companies often maintain data management systems that are a combination of unwieldy excel spreadsheets, and non-relational access tables. The systems are often "home grown" and suffer from "reinvention of the wheel". Data management knowledge is commonly associated with a single person, which creates a risk profile. How do companies deal with importing varied laboratory formats? As resource companies embrace digital geological logging, how do companies efficiently capture this information? End users of data management systems are often frustrated with the need to relearn another piece of software. All these issues and many more, can distract companies from their core focus......this often leads to the business process being subservient to IT technology.

Another good statement of the problem is the paper Why Data Management is More Important Than Ever.

Depending on your needs, there is probably a computer code somewhere that you can buy, install, and train folk to use. Here are some (by no means an exhaustive list - if you believe yours should be here, please let us know):

There are plenty more of general application, for example Solidworks, adic, Sybase, and DataMirror to name but a few.

WHY DO DATA MANAGEMENT

Proper data management helps mining companies meet these guidelines and regulatory requirements:

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