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Newcrest has entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft to collaborate on programs of work including the use of digital twins to improve operational performance and a high-impact sustainability data model.

Two priority projects are underway, with the first being the creation of a full value chain digital twin at Newcrest’s Cadia operation in New South Wales, which captures operational data spanning the full breadth of the site.

Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, Willow and site operational experts, the digital twin displays data from both information technology (IT) and operational technology through easy-to-digest 3D visualisations of the mining process, allowing operators and managers to make tactical and strategic decisions in real-time to improve performance.

A scenario-planning tool will eventually be integrated into the digital twin to enable testing of simulated actions against live data before making operational changes in the field.

Together with data on other critical operational metrics, such as recovery and costs, this solution will evolve into a full productivity model for each mining site.

Microsoft and Versor are also working with Newcrest on a sustainability data model designed to improve sustainability and streamline environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, with the first release due by June 2022.

Newcrest chief information officer Gavin Wood said these platforms create a scaffold for new digital solutions that will provide predictive and prescriptive insights to help the company optimise operations.

“When you think about how big and complex a mine site is, particularly in regard to the processing done on-site, how much energy and water it consumes, the ability to use the full power of AI to provide actionable insights across the value chain is going to unlock so much value for us,” he said.

“I’m a big believer that when it comes to technology – and I’m talking about all technology, not just the IT world – complexity is the thing that kills you.

“It’s better to have simpler architectures and technology portfolios with fewer partners, where you have deeper partnerships and you work closely together, and benefit from the integration that comes with this approach.”

As an industry-leading user of Microsoft technology, Newcrest has migrated all key workloads, including system applications and products (SAP), from private cloud to Azure, and Microsoft 365 is deployed across the organisation, as is Teams and Power BI.