Simulating Underground Soft Rock Mining
ASIA MINER – SEPTEMBER 2013
ThoroughTec has led the way into simulation for underground soft rock mining by developing and customizing technology in accordance to BHP Billiton specifications. Adapting ThoroughTec’s tried and tested software architecture for the soft rock underground environment has challenged the development team, despite extensive experience in simulating underground mining equipment and mining operations.
The primary development will feature six different machine types making up the whole range of underground equipment used in the soft rock underground coal mining environment, including a Joy continuous miner and shuttle car, a Fletcher bolter, a Sandvik LHD and two utility-type vehicles.
“The standout challenge was accurate modelling of the breakout of rock as the continuous miner, a hugely complex machine, cut away at the rock face.”
“The BHP Billiton project has been a significant challenge, both in terms of complexity and scale,” says ThoroughTec’s executive vice president – R&D Dr John Waltham. “Firstly, in developing the underground world and the artificially intelligent electric vehicles that operate in it, we had to model the electric cables that power them. They had to roll and unroll correctly, fall realistically, and also not get in the way of other vehicles.”
“The ventilation system used in underground soft rock mining was another element of this project that took some time to solve, but the standout challenge was accurate modelling of the breakout of rock as the continuous miner, a hugely complex machine, cut away at the rock face. I can’t reveal exactly how we accomplished this, but what we achieved is incredibly realistic replication of the continuous mining process.”
ThoroughTec has been a world leader in underground mining simulation for more than 15 years, so it was a logical next step to utilize this expertise to expand into the area of underground soft rock mining. “The CYBERMINE range of simulators has been extremely successful in realizing productivity gains and safety improvements in both the hard rock underground mining environment and in surface coal mining operations, so it was a rational progression for us to apply these proven training technologies and techniques to the underground soft rock environment”,” says John Waltham.
ThoroughTec has been designing and manufacturing simulators for more than 20 years and is the leading simulator system supplier to the South African military. It is also the largest global supplier of both surface and underground simulators in the mining and construction industries, with more than 500 simulator units deployed worldwide.