From the blowing desert sands of Egypt to the red-hot Ring of Fire in the James Bay Lowlands, the world’s miners are increasingly making use of products created by Sudbury’s Century Systems Technologies Inc.
Using bred-in-the-bone Northern know-how, president Ray Auger and his team have crafted a series of Windows-based software products tailored specifically to the industry’s growing exploration needs.
“These are very important applications for the industry,” says Auger.
“It is very easy to sell, actually. It does a lot for them.”
This company’s product line revolves around helping clients collect, validate, store and manage information related to drilling, surveying, and laboratory results -- in other words, anything a mining company needs to test its fortunes.
This begins at the collection and logging of data from drill holes and point samples, through the proprietary DHLogger and Sample Station software. With MineMapper 3D, clients can map geological, geotechnical and geochemical aspects of open pit and underground mines, all in real time and in the field.
Using the Fusion Central product, this information can then be fed back electronically to a central database off-site. This allows multiple users from a variety of locations and countries to simultaneously feed data to one spot, allowing for that information to be easily and securely accessed.
This software also allows for settings and data tables to be set at an upper level and then pushed down to users, rather than having to configure them for each individual.
Complementary products have also been developed to fit into the bigger exploration picture, with Report Manager allowing for this stored information to be easily extracted.
Similarly, the Century Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) automates processes within mine site labs, drawing the information collected in the field from the Fusion servers. It then transfers this information to the lab tools, and the results are passed back into the central database.
This means that once data is collected in the field, it can be used automatically throughout the exploration process, without fear of tampering.
The entire line of offerings is marked by a modular approach, so clients can easily integrate any new Century Systems software products they adopt into those already in use.
“You can go from a single license to a full multinational corporate solution, depending on how you grow.”
This value hasn’t been lost on the mining industry: Century Systems now has clients in 45 countries, with 5,200 licenses spread across 250 sites worldwide. Twenty staff are scattered between its offices in Sudbury, Mexico, Peru and Argentina.
Business is booming, so much so that Auger’s efforts to expand the company’s offices are in danger of being outpaced by its growth.
Having just settled into new 4,000-square-foot digs in Sudbury’s south end, double the size of his previous location, Auger is already eyeing another move as his team continues to grow.
The genesis for this flourishing company came over a game of squash in 1996, when a friend mentioned he knew of a corporate acquaintance who needed custom exploration-related software.
Auger, who had been working as an independent computer consultant with local firms such as Inco, saw an opportunity and created Century Systems. Following some partnerships with local experts, the DHLogger tool soon emerged.
Even to this day, 13 years after its inception, the product remains the company’s flagship offering, selling twice as briskly as anything else in the company’s growing catalogue.
It certainly has no shortage of prominent fans. It’s currently in use by Noront Resources at the Ring of Fire. On the other side of the planet, Red Back Mining Inc has loaded the software onto durable tablets, which are then used for its Tasiast Mine in the deserts of Mauritania. Recently, a system has been sold to Vale, who will install it across 32 of its mines.
Auger attributes much of his success to his people, all of which are from the region, and many of which had sought their fortunes elsewhere before looking for opportunities to return home.
This shift to one’s roots is at the heart of why he hasn’t relocated his business to larger centres endlessly distant from the North.
“This is where I’m from,” says Auger with a smile. “This is where my camp is, and this is where I’m staying.”