WorleyParsons applies virtual reality to mine design

WorleyParsons RSA has stated that it is achieving ground-breaking results by harnessing virtual reality technology from the gaming industry and applying it to mine design in the conceptual stage, with the potential to realise significant cost savings for its customers
WorleyParsons applies virtual reality to mine design WorleyParsons applies virtual reality to mine design WorleyParsons applies virtual reality to mine design WorleyParsons applies virtual reality to mine design WorleyParsons applies virtual reality to mine design

WorleyParsons is harnessing virtual reality technology on a number of current projects

Ailbhe Goodbody

The company added that the technology builds on WorleyParsons’ heritage expertise and capabilities in mining through its Mining Centre of Excellence in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Stuart Doran, the WorleyParsons structural engineer who has helped drive the introduction of this technology to WorleyParsons, said: “From the conventional drawing board and later CAD that served this purpose for many years, mine design technology has suddenly taken a quantum leap forward, firstly to a 3D design environment and now to virtual reality driven in part by the strong R&D support it is receiving from the nation’s major institutions and the industry. This technology complements our conventional methods and makes it possible to generate detailed, labelled drawings from the dynamic model that the customer has fully reviewed and approved. This has the potential to reduce drawing time and minimise revisions.”

Digby Glover, CEO of WorleyParsons RSA, commented: “WorleyParsons has made this investment to offer our customers a superior product at a relatively affordable price. Virtual reality technology seamlessly complements our standard methods and allows us to fine-tune mine design with the customer before any drawings are generated. Using virtual reality goggles, an entire multi-disciplinary team from the customer’s company is now able to take a ‘virtual walk’ through the actual site, reviewing mine and plant layout, function of moving objects, roads and associated infrastructure, as well as the risk and safety aspects of the entire layout.”

Glover continued: “Any design changes requested by the customer can be instantly applied, and since customer personnel are involved from the start, by the end of the process they have exactly what they want. The product we’re offering has the potential to help reduce miscommunication between the customer and the draughtsman during reviews and has so far consistently exceeded customers’ expectations.”

While this is still in its early stages, WorleyParsons is harnessing virtual reality technology on a number of current projects such as reviewing the models for the greenfield Golpu project in Papua New Guinea, for JV clients Newcrest Mining of Australia and Harmony Gold Mining Co of South Africa.

Doran and his team began researching the application of virtual reality technology to mine design towards the end of 2014, and demonstrated its capabilities to visitors at the WorleyParsons stand at the recently held Investing in Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa.