Data is the single-most valuable commodity in the mineral industry. It is the foundation of decisions relating to safety, exploration, production and development, ongoing research and investment. Data represents competitive advantage and it holds the key to new knowledge creation. Its value is unlocked through innovative applied research approaches.

The global mineral industry collects data constantly for the purpose of decision making on issues such as: where to look for minerals, what metals / minerals to mine, where to mine, how quickly to mine, how mines should be designed and built. Data is produced through activities such as exploration, surveying, drilling, blasting, assaying, transporting the rockmass to the mill, characterizing the mine’s geology, and through mine planning, among many others.


Mining industry datasets remain segmented, under-utilized, and, at times, unreliable. There is no universally accepted data collection or storage format and no easy way to integrate data sets from different sources. In addition, data takes up an incredible amount of space on servers and, as a result, it is common practice to discard it after a set period of time. These data are of high relevance to researchers seeking to help the mineral community understand how to find ore bodies as well as better understand existing ones through studies relating to their rock mass quality, stability, type and composition.


The creation of a co-located MODCC (Mining Observatory Data Control Centre) will capitalize on existing data integration and sharing expertise at SNOLAB as well as the significant investments already made in the deep underground facility there. The MODCC will represent a powerful user— and data-interpretation interface that searches, collects, filters and analyzes mining/exploration related datasets. The result will be a data processing facility with accessibility and capability unlike anything currently available to mining/exploration companies and researchers anywhere in the world.

This project will address the mineral and related R&D industry’s data access and integration needs by creating a service that collects, integrates and securely stores and then distributes data. Streaming data that will originate from sensor arrays in operating mines will eventually be assessed in real-time, thereby making the MODCC a “living data centre”. MODCC will not only provide a safe hub to observe the quality and quantity of data being generated, it will also provide an ideal “knowledge hotspot” or incubator for research and technical teams from around the world to visit, analyze and interpret data and gain new insights from the resident staff.


The key deliverables for the project will be the development of the required Information Technology (IT) hardware and database interconnectivity for data management; the necessary IT infrastructure upgrades to support required services; and the preparation of offices, parking and accommodations at SNOLAB to support and host additional personnel, software developers, customers and visiting scientists.


The project will be measured against its ability to: realize its commercialization potential; meet its job creation targets; lead to the promotion of economic growth & innovation opportunities; attract new professionals to the region and help to retain existing businesses and professionals and, finally; improve the capacity and investment readiness of the community.


As part of this infrastructure project, the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) is collaborating with CEMI and SNOLAB through a project called Footprints, a data integration project identifying the multi-parameter ‘footprints’ of ore systems. Footprints promises to deliver financial and technical support for the MODCC project’s last mile (commercialization). It will enable the development of a tripartite knowledge/technology transfer mechanism between the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) community, large multinationals and academic researchers.


Solution team

  • Nigel Smith, SNOLAB
  • John McGaughey, Mira GeoScience
  • Andrew Dasys, Objectivity
  • Vale
  • Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations: A Glencore Company
  • Rio Tinto
  • Canadian Mining Innovation Council (CMIC)
  • Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC)