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Mining company launches new ICT strategy

12 Feb 2013 THE AGE - TREVOR CLARKE



OZ Minerals is looking to a five-year tech horizon, writes Trevor Clarke.

AFTER substantially consolidating its data centre and IT infrastructure, copper miner OZ Minerals has now set out a five-year technology plan to drive its core mining processes.

The new whole-of-company ICT strategy includes initiatives across operation, risk management, automated dispatch, data management and underground mine control.

"Further out we will be looking at broader pit-to-port optimisation initiatives, and innovation opportunities such as consolidation of mine operations control rooms," said OZ Minerals ICT general manager Bradley Winks.

The plan will support operations across Australia - including the Carrapateena copper-gold mine purchased in 2011 - and overseas, including Chile and Argentina.

The new strategy follows an overhaul of the company's ICT environment after the merger of Oxiana and Zinifex in 2008 created the new entity. A wide-ranging review found the ICT environment was in a "less than desirable state".

"Many applications were due for life-cycle update or replacement, and the ICT Infrastructure was ageing and fragmented," Winks said.

"We found ourselves in the unique position of having to work on all aspects of the environment at the one time, and it led us to explore options not normally available when managing enterprise ICT environments. We were able to take a clean-sheet approach to the provision of data centre services, and make step changes to our environments to support the future direction of OZ Minerals."

OzMinerals engaged Dimension Data to assist with consolidation, including moving from around 50 physical services and 65 virtual services across three data centres in Melbourne and Brisbane, to seven physical machines in a Telstra facility in Melbourne with a disaster recovery site in Sydney.

"We saw the need to set ourselves up to support rapid change as a critical requirement for the company to be successful in future endeavours," Winks said.

The company was, like many of its peers, looking to move away from the traditional investment model to the cloud.

"We took the opportunity to move into an infrastructure-as-a-service model, and established our new data centre environment in the Telstra Network Computing Services," Winks said. "This allowed us to move our applications into a cloud model in a very controlled manner, where we could effectively manage the risk associated with transitioning to the new technology."

Research firm IDC said infrastructure-as-a-service overtook software-as-a-service as the biggest cloud computing category in January, as more companies move their systems to the cloud.