Opencontour: Empowering New Mining Generations

Maria Echavarria’s company, Opencontour, aims to simplify mine-planning software tools and empower new mining generations to embark on the journey. She is growing it with help from the Master of Business Creation program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.

Echavarria and Opencontour’s founder, Russ Downer, created Opencontour from experiences with mining software that didn’t live up to their expectations. They saw an opportunity to innovate and improve by creating a cloud-based open-pit mining software. It helps companies develop and optimize the design of their mines and provides solutions for their specific project requirements.

Echavarria and Downer believe that learning how to use mining software should not be a barrier for mine planners and engineers to overcome. She wants to reduce the amount of time spent on integrating data, running design iterations, and training employees.

“Many middle managers have left the mining industry,” Echavarria said. “There’s a gap in expertise and skill development. We want to simplify complex processes and help new mining generations learn how to be efficient and improve their productivity without having to spend additional time learning how to use software.”

Because every mining project is different, each requires a software program that allows engineers to access intuitive and flexible tools. Opencontour provides a complete solution in a single software that combines design capabilities with mine scheduling and budgeting. The software also measures cost-benefit scenarios for multiple designs and schedules.

Echavarria is excited to continue to evolve Opencontour. In addition to exploring new mining technologies, she is committed to bringing sustainable mining practices into the software.

“With advances in technology and an increased focus on sustainability, the mining industry is shifting towards more environmentally friendly methods,” Echavarria said. “New technologies and practices are being implemented to reduce the environmental impact of mining. Our vertical extraction software solution is just one example of how Opencontour looks to support some of these initiatives”

She is now growing Opencontour in the Master of Business Creation (MBC) program at the Eccles School. The MBC is a professional business degree program that helps founders grow and scale their business ideas. It brings together the best of a graduate degree program and a business accelerator.

Opencontour has partnered with mining companies and mining consulting groups to optimize their software and further grow their company. Their software has been used in over 50 consulting projects, fifteen of which included heap leach operations.

As the company grows, Echavarria hopes to create new opportunities in mining.

Learn more about Opencoutour at

Maria Echavarria aims to simplify mine-planning software and empower new mining generations with Opencontour.

About the Author:

Despina Giannopoulos Despina is the marketing coordinator at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. She grew up in Salt Lake City and has a B.S. in communications from the University of Utah.

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