As mining develops into a more sophisticated and technological industry, the potential for virtual reality is increasingly realised. The costs associated with computing are now at a level where almost any individual can purchase a PC powerful enough to run simulations and modelling packages, and thus virtual reality is becoming more commonplace across all technology industries.
The detailed and interactive models generated by individuals around the world, and indeed at the University of Queensland (UQ) illustrate the potential for this technology, and this thesis looks at how it can be used as an education tool within the mining engineering department.
With safety the number one concern in mining, any developments that can lead to a safer working environment are being openly embraced. It is in this area, where virtual reality can be used as a “third eye” to help simulate situations and operations not visually seen in the physical world, that safety can be increased. If mining engineers can use the technology, then this will lead to a safer, better understood mining environment.
This thesis aims to create a working model of the University of Queensland Experimental Mine (UQEM) that will be used by the mining department for years to come for the basis of both teaching and generating student interest.
The University of Queensland Experimental Mine is an asset of the mining department that is widely used as an education source for student practicals and tutorials and thus, such a model has great potential in terms of student education within the department. With the hazardous nature of mining, and the increasing awareness of responsible risk management, then using virtual reality to model the mine provides the department with an educational tool for students to use, that is not only safer than being in the mine, but also a cheaper alternative.
Virtual reality is a proven training, educational and safety tool, and it is important that students are exposed to the technology before entering the workforce. From a risk assessment perspective, hazards can be introduced into the model and, for subject work students must then identify them.
The potential for this thesis is immense, and if the technology can be utilised more in the mining industry, then using virtual reality as a teaching basis at the university will greatly enhance the capabilities of graduation students. By increasing the use of virtual reality at the university and indeed within the mining department, the associated costs with teaching can be reduced and the quality of the education increased for what the UQ Mining Department has to offer.