Stijn Litjes, Data Analytics Lead
Industry: Other (Mining)
Department: BI/Analytics/Data Science
to track an inventory of $1bn+ in diamonds
time improvement in fuel tracking workflow
A scarce commodity among precious metals, platinum is used for a huge variety of applications, from catalytic converters to chemotherapy. Of the few hundred tons produced yearly, more than 40% is mined by Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining companies.
Anglo American has its roots way back in 1917, and is also a major producer of diamonds, copper, nickel, and other metals through sites across almost every continent. And as with most large corporations, over the years, Anglo American found itself with a complicated data estate and an outdated database solution.
“We use a lot of different systems and tools,” says Stijn Litjes, Data Analytics Lead at Anglo American. “Most people don’t work with data on a day-to-day basis — and working in spreadsheets doesn’t provide the effective analytics I was looking for.”
Litjes was tasked with building a dedicated data analytics team for Anglo American’s business assurance function (ABAS). This was primarily to help the organization perform more frequent and detailed internal audits, ethical business conduct reviews, risk management activities, investigations, and more.
“Rather than recruit a whole team of data analysts, I looked for the most data-savvy people who were already part of our auditing team,” says Litjes. “I wanted to train up people who already knew the business.”
With such a wide range of data sources and audits to produce, Litjes and his team were working with many different data types, levels of granularity, and output formats, which often made bringing datasets together a challenge. Anglo American needed a solution that would allow the team to cleanse and match data more effectively, with automation to help analysts cover more scope than with manual audits. And after careful evaluation, Anglo American chose Alteryx as the best match for its skills and scalability needs — plus, Litjes had years of experience with the solution from previous roles.
With Alteryx, our data analytics has become very advanced very quickly. We’re not just fact-checking — we’re providing real value to the business.
“When I saw the skill levels I was working with, I knew Alteryx was ideal,” says Litjes. “It’s great for beginners, but more advanced users can use powerful custom functions too. I’ve found that I can build most things using Alteryx — and I didn’t come to the solution with a computer science background.”
Alteryx’s low-code approach to building analytics functions meant Litjes could train his team on the fundamentals, without them having to learn a whole new coding language. Starting with a team of 13 volunteers, Litjes implemented Alteryx Designer and started working on identifying the highest value domains to tackle.
“We were looking for the audits that were most ripe for analytics,” says Litjes. “We started with the data in systems that were used by the most business units, to generate as much value as possible from the very beginning.”
Data analytics for ABAS now runs entirely on Alteryx, with a Power BI integration that helps teams visualize audit outputs in a user-friendly way. Now, audit teams can cover more scope in less time and perform audit testing on entire populations instead of drawing samples, helping the organization move toward continuous assurance.
“By using data connections on Alteryx Server, we can easily access and blend data in ways that just weren’t possible before,” says Litjes. “With Alteryx, our data analytics has become very advanced very quickly. We’re not just fact-checking — we’re providing real value to the business.”
Data Analytics Lead
Low-code tools help beginners and advanced users produce complex workflows quickly
The team can focus on automating high-value processes that underpin the whole organization
Leverage Alteryx road map to model outcomes at marginal cost
Litjes and his team work closely to collaborate on new workflows for the organization, with bi-weekly three-hour sessions where they tackle Anglo American’s most pressing analytics challenges. And because Alteryx is so intuitive to use, analysts can also work independently to build complex solutions, validating and optimizing as they work — and their workflows are already having a significant impact on Anglo American’s control environment.
The company’s Quellaveco Copper Mine sits atop one of the world’s biggest copper deposits. The mine’s trucks have used fuel costing more than $11 million so far — the invoices for which needed to be collated, audited, and recharged, pulling data from finance, supply chain, and operational systems. Completed manually, these reports take a full two days a month to prepare.
With Alteryx, an automated workflow extracts data from multiple spreadsheets from the vendor and contractor, producing two detailed breakdown reports in just 30 minutes. This means decision-makers can access key information about fuel usage faster — and with more accuracy, as the team tested the workflow extensively using three months of historical data. This process will support the mine’s operations for years to come, creating even more value through hours and effort saved.
On an even bigger scale, Anglo American is using Alteryx workflows in its subsidiary, De Beers, to help track over a billion dollars’ worth of rough diamonds as they’re sorted and valued. The original balancing method used data on intake, stock, losses, gains and sales to calculate De Beers’ month-end closing stock. The original balancing process was manual, spreadsheet-based, and took approximately a week to complete, with a high level of risk from potential manual errors and inaccuracies.
With a new, highly complex extract, transform and load (ETL) process developed using Alteryx workflows, De Beers now automatically pulls data from a vast range of sources, enabling a robust balancing dataset to be pushed into its new ‘balancing software’, helping balance on a daily basis as well as completing final month-end balancing in just two days. This is helping leaders identify imbalances earlier, optimize throughput, and keep track of inventory more accurately.
I like to look at my job as a playground. With tools like Alteryx, I can build cool things and help make the organization the best it can be.
With an advanced data analytics foundation to build from, Anglo American is working toward a global data strategy that uses data as an asset, not just a byproduct of processes. And Alteryx is set to play a crucial role.
“As other teams see our success, I hope more of them will adopt data analytics,” says Litjes.
Anglo American’s strategy includes a ‘burning ambition’ to be the most-valued mining company in the world by 2023, to be achieved through innovation, sustainability, and optimized operations — and its analytics capability will play a vital role.