Striking Gold in the Physical and Digital World
Ever wonder where the gold in your necklace, watch or earrings comes from? Odds are it originated in the Çöpler Gold Mine. Tucked away in the rolling hills of the eastern Erzincan Province of Turkey, this vast mine is producing lots of the precious metal.
Çöpler is forecast to produce up to 180,000 ounces of gold by the end of 2017. Yielding total cash costs of $500 to $550 per ounce, according to their website. But what does it take to operationalize the mine and keep the shareholders happy while leaving a minimal impact on the environment? Alacer Gold, an intermediate gold mining company, is driven in this pursuit by leveraging technology on the physical and the digital sides of their business.
On the physical side, Alacer Gold is transforming from a heap leach technology gold mine to a pressure oxidation facility. Investing $744 million into becoming a highly complex and advanced processing plant. Kim Perry, the VP of Finance and Information Technology said that Alacer Gold is “shifting away from executers to more forward-thinkers.” The investment is designed to bring Mother Nature on their side and deliver a “big pressure cooker that speeds up the production of gold,” said Perry.
In order to streamline and accelerate the flow of information, Perry described the necessity to bring all their information together from multiple ERP systems. Because in the gold mining business, a lack of information could lead to major problems. Like a plant shutdown.
“If you don’t have the information at hand and can’t make decisions quickly, you could actually have a huge shutdown, which could cost a lot of money. It could become hazardous. Making decisions is very important for safety and asset preservation,” said Perry.
A lack of transparency in the data inhibits the ability to make critical decisions. So how did Alacer Gold overcome this challenge? “We needed a tool that would bring all our information together. So, we went down the path of implementing SAP,” said Perry.
Since 2012, Alacer Gold has realized the benefits of running live with SAP. Currently, finance, controlling, plant maintenance and materials management are now running SAP systems. And with the introduction of S/4HANA, “the true benefit is going to be that real-time access to the real-time data so we can make real-time decisions,” said Perry.
With a revamped effort entirely focused on Çöpler, Alacer Gold’s single cornerstone asset, business is now focused on the long term. To not only win in the gold mining industry, but to build an impactful legacy for the surrounding community of Çöpler.
Alacer Gold is committed to a variety of community efforts surrounding the Çöpler mine. As Perry describes, they are committing resources to infrastructure and educational programs. Examples include building schools, pop-up training centers to help people learn new trades, or putting new water treatment facilities in place. Even hosting local school children for educational tours.
Alacer Gold is also committed to hiring local community members to work in and around the mine. The company is committed to building strong and lasting relationships with the community and becoming a beacon of opportunity. But one resource, more valuable than gold, is helping them achieve this lasting legacy. Time.
“Most mining companies, your average life of mine is about seven years. Our mine life will go on 20 years. This gives us unique leverage not only from a business standpoint but for a community standpoint as well,” said Perry.
For Perry, the journey is just getting started. But with a sound strategy in place to leverage technology, and help the community along the way, it’s a golden opportunity for Alacer Gold to win big.