The mining industry is becoming even more complex as it deals with resources that are harder to access and a growing focus on sustainability. This requires enabling mining companies to solve business problems by embracing innovation and digital transformation as they seek to evolve and adapt in a fast-changing industry.
In this week’s Dassault Systèmes Women in Mining series, we speak to Min LIANG, Mining Industry Process Consultant Specialist, on what she enjoys most about her role as a geostatistician in GEOVIA’s Global Services team.
1. How did you get into mining as a career at Dassault Systèmes?
I am a mining industry consultant with Dassault Systèmes’ GEOVIA Global Services team. I am based in Brisbane, Australia, and I have a PhD in geostatistics.
My Bachelor and Master degrees were actually in environmental engineering. In the earlier part of my career, I worked at an environmental consulting company in China. In 2010, I got a scholarship to pursue my PhD studies in geostatistics in Montreal, Canada, which opened up great opportunities for me to pursue a career in the mining industry, first as a geology data scientist in Canada before I took on my current role at Dassault Systèmes GEOVIA in Brisbane in 2018.
2. What drew you to choose to study geostatistics for your PhD?
It was a great opportunity to experience life overseas in another country, plus I could see that geostatistics is growing in importance as a discipline in environmental science, such as soil analysis, climate change, and even in public health.
When I was doing my PhD, I noticed there was a big gap in application of geostatistical techniques in the mining industry. Geostatistical analyses are actually very critical for miners to understanding mineral deposit grade distribution and continuity. Such analyses are becoming more important as the mining industry deals with resources that are harder to access and managing its environmental impact.
3. What have been some of the key challenges that you have experienced in the mining sector?
This is my first job in the mining industry since I graduated from my PhD program. Most of the time, my role is on the desktop, doing multivariate 3D modelling to help anticipate mineral processing and adjustment needs for mining businesses. I develop mining optimization solutions based on the GEOVIA product suite to help solve problems or issues addressed by the client, which I really enjoy.
I am really lucky that all of my colleagues and teammates are very talented and cooperative. Initially, there were some challenges in adapting my knowledge to the mining industry, as my practical experience was in environmental engineering. But my colleagues have been very helpful, so the transition has been smooth.
I would say the challenge is balancing work with personal responsibilities, as I have two young children. The biggest challenge was during my PhD when I gave birth to my first child. I had a one month break before going back to work. It was so hard to get the work-life balance right at that time with a new-born baby. I even talked to my supervisor to discuss changing my program from a PhD to a Master’s program, as I already got the research results required for a Master’s program.
However, my supervisor suggested that I take more time to complete my PhD thesis and allowed me to work from home. I got accustomed to working through the night because that’s when the baby is asleep, and whenever she wakes up, my husband will feed her and put her to bed again.
4. What do you enjoy most about your role at Dassault Systèmes?
I like challenge of analysing geological data and developing geostatistical models to help mining businesses solve their problems and find new solutions to meet their business and sustainability goals. When the solution I develop together with the team works for the client, it makes me very proud.
What I truly enjoy about my role is that there is always something new for me to learn. Dassault Systèmes has a wide range of applications that I can draw upon outside of GEOVIA, such as DELMIA and SIMULIA. I find it very interesting to come up with new ways to enhance my geostatistical models with these different applications.
5. What’s your advice to women looking to carve out their career in the mining industry?
The mining industry has been embracing more disciplines and technologies. Diversified skills are contributing to the industry, so even if you are not directly in the mining industry, you still have a chance to play a good role in its growth. So it’s important to keep updating your knowledge and learning new skills.
You may meet some stumbling blocks on the way to achieve your goals – just keep positive and don’t give up. Even if you don’t get the result you expect, you are still learning many things along the way. At the end of the day, you will appreciate your efforts and experiences.