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Cyberspace moves underground.

Virtual reality is starting to have a very real effect on the bottom lines of mining companies large and small.


The cutting-edge technology is allowing mining partners to seek cost-saving opportunities and build on existing resources through virtual reality hubs strategically placed throughout Northern Ontario Northern Ontario is the part of the province of Ontario which lies north of Lake Huron (including Georgian Bay), the French River and Lake Nipissing.

Northern Ontario has a land area of 802,000 km² (310,000 mi²) and constitutes 87% of the land area of Ontario, although it

An investment by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund is a division of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in the Canadian province of Ontario, whose purpose is to provide funding and program support to foster economic development in the economically disadvantaged Northern Ontario region.  Corporation (NOHFC NOHFC Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (Government of Ontario, Canada) ) will help improve technology at virtual reality laboratories (VRLs) in Sudbury and Red Lake and establish a new lab in Timmins. There is also the possibility of a portable facility which would be stationed in Kirkland Lake Kirkland Lake, mining town, E Ont., Canada. An important gold-mining center, gold was discovered there in 1911 and again in the 1980s at Harker. The mining of iron ore and tourism are two other important industries. .

They will be linked with a "head office" lab in Toronto via the Northern Advanced Visualization Network (NAVNet).

Imagine a portion of a sphere with a radius of about 12 feet. Now imagine sitting in the centre of it, and all around is a graphic, multi-dimensional visualization of an ore body.

The effect is the ore body "coming off the screen", according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Andrew Dasys, managing director of Laurentian University's NAVNet, a research group affiliated with the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Organization (MIRARCO MIRARCO Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (Sudbury, Ontario, Canada) ).

Mining companies in Greater Sudbury Greater Sudbury (2006 census population 157,857) is a city in Northern Ontario, Canada. Greater Sudbury was created in 2001 by amalgamating the cities and towns of the former Regional Municipality of Sudbury, along with several previously unincorporated geographic townships.  and Red Lake have used the giant screens to obtain three-dimensional images of the earth by combining drill hole data, topographical maps, magnetic surveys and airborne photos.

As a result, they are able to extract pertinent information much quicker than in the past. For instance, they can devise alternative tunnel routes to avoid rock bursts by instituting mathematical processes. Within the image, colour is used as an extra dimension to highlight various factors. For instance, high stress locations can be emphasized in red and low areas in blue.

"If you change the geometry, you can change the stress distribution, potentially decreasing the number of bursts," Dasys points out.

The virtual facility can also be used as a means to give junior mining companies the expertise they would not otherwise obtain. The commodity-driven market advances due to junior discoveries which are eventually acquired by senior mining companies. Such companies have more investment dollars to bring forth new skill sets for mine production. NAVNet will bring those skill sets to the juniors, Dasys says.

"The idea is to use advanced visualization to get the market to understand what potential these companies have in Northern Ontario."

The advantage in having access to NAVNet is ease of use. The technology takes a lot of complex data and translates it into an easy-to-read graphic. The ore body can be looked at from a variety of angles and vantage points.

Better communications plus faster and more effective decision-making leads to money saved, Dasys says.

Red Lake's Goldcorp operation used this technology to make a $13 million decision to sink a shaft where more gold ore resides.

A VRL VRL Vlaamse Reumaliga Vzw
VRL Vijayanand Roadlines Ltd (India)
VRL Virtual Research Library
VRL Variance Residual Life
VRL Vision Resources Library
 also allows officials to visualize safety, environment and infrastructure implementations, locate ore grade and the direction of drill holes, mine control methods, engineering schedules, human resources and equipment planning.

If companies can obtain information that triggers this kind of economic development, imagine what can be accessed through 5-D models, Dasys says.

Adding two dimensions to the image, one for time and another for value, provides a clearer image of mine production, Dasys says.

For example, gold is currently outperforming the bull markets of 1980 and 1990 in both time and price.

"If you have low-outline grade, it becomes ore at $800 an ounce; it also becomes waste at perhaps $400 an ounce."

Part of the research will illustrate the value and history of the mine stopes Stopes , Marie Carmichael 1880-1958.

British social reformer who opened England's first birth control clinic (1924) in London and later promoted family planning in east Asia.
 by colour-coding them. The greener the colour, the more profitable; the redder it is, the more bearish. Each stope stope  
An excavation in the form of steps made by the mining of ore from steeply inclined or vertical veins.

tr.v. stoped, stop·ing, stopes
To remove (ore) from or mine by means of a stope.
 can be graded with boxes and sounds indicating the current market value of the ore it bears.

This information is priceless to mining experts, says Dasys. Top mining executives are no longer satisfied with simple exploration data, says Dasys. They want to see data combining geosciences.

"You cannot do that if you are just looking at 3-D models."


Northern Ontario Business Northern Ontario Business is a Canadian magazine, which publishes monthly in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. The magazine covers business news and issues in Northern Ontario.  
COPYRIGHT 2005 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:virtual reality
Author:Louiseize, Kelly
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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