Next generation training tool: virtual reality
The mining industry is a dangerous profession comprised of hazardous working conditions, lethal gases and equipment the size of Transformers. The need for mine safety and training is immense and companies are actively striving to enhance practices and techniques, but what about situations too dangerous to recreate in real life, such as an underground fire or gas explosion?
In an effort to improve mine safety and training, companies are beginning to adopt cutting-edge technology to better train employees on what to do if they are ever confronted with one of these situations. Mines Rescue is one such company.
The NSW-based organization, which is a business unit of Coal Services, has launched a virtual reality training center that will transform the way miners are taught about safety.
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“It puts them in situations that can’t be replicated in the real world,” said Steve Tonegato, State Operations Manager of Mines Rescue.
“You can’t light fires underground, you can’t have smoke coming at you, and you can’t put people in high pressure situations in real mines where they have to make decisions, but you can do that here.”
According to Australian Mining, the training center is equipped with a 360 degree view of screens, resembling the likes of an IMAX theater, to make the experience more realistic for users. Unlike other training centers, the company has built a fully operating mine in virtual reality.
“Mixed reality is something that is very unique. People see a lot of virtual reality, especially in gaming which has sensational graphics, but this is a place where not only does everything look real but you can also interact,” said Tonegato.
“Everything you see in an underground mine, from dolly cars to conveyors to longwalls is replicated here,” Tonegato adds.
Bells and whistles
The virtual reality training center by Mines Rescue offers a slew of advantages other training courses and practices don’t, or can’t. Features like viewing the mine from different angles assists in the holistic training experience, which allows participants to better understand their working environment and what could go wrong.
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“We can go through and show people it all works. How the bolts are put in and the order they’re put in and why they’re put in. We can talk about elements of strata management, we can talk about vent tubes and ventilation, all that sort of stuff,” said Matthew Farrelly, Mines Rescue virtual reality Technical Manager.
In addition, the virtual reality training can be customized to incorporate a variety of mining assets and equipment, including dangers.
“What this allows us to do is move these assets to wherever we want within the virtual reality world and set them on fire, create accidents, create smoke, to give training participants a full emergency experience,” Tonegato said.
The virtual reality center by Mines Rescue has six classrooms and a small underground mine course comprised of a set of tunnels, a small longwall and a conveyor.
“Our facilities at Mines Rescue throughout the state are absolutely world-class,” Tonegato said.
“Not only do we have a range of terrific practical areas for a range of training, from working at heights to manual handling to confined spaces – we are also able to utilize virtual reality in many and varied platforms.”
(Source: Australian Mining)
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”