A virtual replica of a central Queensland coal mine has been developed to prepare employees for working underground.
The technology uses image projectors and sound effects to create emergency scenarios in a safe and controlled environment.
It is based on Vale’s Carborough Downs coal mine near Moranbah, north-west of Rockhampton, but there are plans to replicate other mines across the state.
Queensland’s commissioner for mine safety and health, Stewart Bell, says interactive graphics and display technology have been incorporated into the design.
“The effect is created by a series of projectors that are driven by a powerful computer and that creates the immersive image, if you like, that you’re actually in a mining environment, so it’s obviously supplemented by sound as well,” he said.
Mr Bell says it allows workers to make mistakes without injuring themselves.
“What virtual reality does is it gives a trainee or a new person in the industry the experience of being in a mine without any of the risks,” he said.
“They can be subjected to the roof moving in an underground mine or a large piece of machinery coming toward them and if they make the wrong move, obviously there’s no damage to them.”