The University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa has opened its new virtual and augmented reality mine design centre.
The new Kumba Virtual Reality Centre for mine design (VRC) focuses on surface and underground mining.
In the new 1,600m² complex, the University of Pretoria invested R32m ($2.5m) and Anglo American group company Kumba Iron Ore invested R18.8m ($1.47m).
Along with the new mine design centre, the university also opened the new offices of the Department of Mining Engineering and the Mining Resilience Research Institute.
The centre houses the VRC's 3D stereoscopic theatre and its 3D, 360° cylinder theatre.
The University of Pretoria Department of Mining Engineering head professor Ronny Webber-Youngman said: "Our students are of the first in Africa to experience real-life incidents in a 3D virtual mine in while sitting in a lecture room.
"What we are trying to do with the VR is simulate, as closely as possible, the real mining environment rather than an 'ideal' situation, because we don't want to create an expectation that mining has no toughness and no roughness."
Webber-Youngman also cited an example of a rock fall underground, which miners may be injured and said that the centre will create a new generation of engineers able to imagine better solutions to real-world problems.
According to Webber-Youngman, all UP faculties involved in mining research including lawyers, medical researchers, and even the veterinary workers will become integrated with the centre.
Image: UP students are of the first in Africa to experience real-life incidents in a 3D virtual mine in while sitting in a lecture room. Photo: © University of Pretoria.