Vale Installs Underground Visualization System

A 3-D Virtual Reality Laboratory installed at Vale Inco’s Creighton mine near Sudbury, Ontario, will
enable the company to better understand underground seismicity in the vicinity of the mine, as well to
optimize exploration and mine planning decisions.
The findings of a six-year research collaboration between Vale Inco and Mirarco are now being applied to operations at Vale Inco’s Creighton mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The Virtual Reality Laboratory (VRL) installed at the mine site will initially be used to understand seismicity underground but will also be used for mine planning, exploration and optimization purposes. The lab was officially inaugurated in a ceremony at the mine held March 12.

Mirarco (Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation), founded in 1998, is a not-for profit applied research and technical service company formed through collaboration between Laurentian University and private and public interests, located in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

Mirarco Geological Engineer Pavel Vasak, one of the presenters at the ceremony, explained how the VRL will allow for a better understanding of potential seismic activity and safer mining practices. “What we see today are the results of years of research being applied to the daily operations at Creighton,” said Vasak. “We’ve produced a tool that assesses all available data and then integrates that information into a visual map detailing potential seismic hazards. Using this tool at the mine site is a pro-active step to ensure working conditions are safe underground.”

Vale Inco commissioned Mirarco to do research into the creation of seismic hazard maps that visually represent areas of seismic activity. As the Creighton mine goes deeper, the potential for seismic activity becomes greater. The hazard maps should help identify what steps can be taken to predict and deal with the associated risks.

”Creighton is Vale Inco’s oldest and deepest operating mine, having operated continuously for more than 100 years,” said Mine Superintendent Andre Lauzon. “The skill of our people, coupled with the advances in technology represented by the Virtual Reality Laboratory, will help us operate safely and successfully for decades to come.”

According to Mirarco, seismic hazard visualization is only one of the uses for the VRL at Creighton. Engineers and geologists will use Mirarco’s open source visualization software, ParaViewGeo, to display the mine and orebody; using that information, exploration and planning decisions can be made with more confidence and clarity.

“Here is a concrete example of research and development bringing value to the mining industry,” said Mirarco Vice President Andrew Dasys. “Vale’s commitment to applying research to their operations is now paying off. It’s also a demonstration of Sudbury’s ingenuity when it comes to improving the mining process in general, this tool can be applied to any deep mine looking to improve its hazard assessment process.”

As featured in Womp 09 Vol 05 -