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When we think of mining we tend to think of it as the poster job for manual labour and dangerous working conditions.

This reputation is well deserved but recently the industry has looked to state of the art technology to improve health and safety in the mining environment.

In order to implement these changes the industry must introduce training, for this they have turned to virtual reality as the method of choice.

Mining Global have stated that this new virtual reality technology will massively improve training effectiveness. Employees will be able to easily retain information by practicing in ‘real world’ scenarios that are difficult to recreate in the classroom. This includes the most common threats like fires and gas explosions which account for the most work related injuries.

Take Mines Rescue for example. A business division of Coal Services that has created its own virtual reality training center located in New South Wales, Australia. It comes complete with 360 angle simulation screens as well virtual reality projectors that recreate accurate underground mining setting.

The Mining Industry and Virtual Reality Technology

Steve Tonegato, Operation Manager at Mines Rescue said ‘It put employees in situations that are not easy to replicate in the real world.’

‘You cant light fires in a coal mine. You can’t have smoke in your face and you can’t really put people in the high pressure real world situations where they have to make big decisions.’

This virtual reality technology doesn’t just stop at being a simulator. It’s a fully operational mine spanning over 50km with a virtual pathway, covering real environment based on actual mines and terrains.

The technology is quite innovative and unique, allowing for an approach called mixed reality whereby users can interact with the environment.

Tonegato continues. You see a lot of virtual reality in industries like gaming where you have impressive graphics, but in this place not only does everything look real but you can also interact with it.’

This kind of virtual reality technology can be customized to include mining industry asset like it’s equipment thus improving reaction times to dangers.

Tonegato calls it ‘ a full emergency experience.’

This technology has the potential to drastically improve health and safety training in the mining industry and bring in a new safety aware generation of mining staff.

For more information on health and safety of the mining industry please visit the Valdamark corporate site here.