The University of Pretoria and Anglo American group company Kumba Iron Ore have partnered to open a new virtual and augmented reality (VRC) Mine design centre, which is set to revolutionize both surface and underground mining design. The Virtual Centre is the first in Africa and it is tipped to be the solution to the Mining industry in South Africa.
The project is led by professor Ronny Webber-Youngman, Head of the Department of Mining Engineering at the University. “Our students are of the first in Africa to experience real-life incidents in a 3-D virtual mine while sitting in a lecture room,” said Prof Webber-Youngman.
“What we are trying to do with the VR is simulate, as closely as possible, the real mining environment rather than an ‘ideal’ situation, because we don’t want to create an expectation that mining has no toughness and no roughness. One needs to be cautious not to over-honeymoon the idea of mining, and never underestimate the reality that goes with it.” Prof Webber-Youngman added.
While Engineering Courses are extremely scientific and often challenging for students to visualize, which is why the Professor maintains that the VRC will create a new generation of engineers who are able to imagine better solutions to real-world problem.
As the students will be engaged in virtual engineering, the Professor has dubbed the students as imagineers, “I call them my ‘imagineers’,” the Professor says.
The centre was created at an amount which totals R50-million, the University of Pretoria has itself invested R32-million in the 1 600 m2 complex and Anglo American group company Kumba Iron Ore R18.8-million.
Technology continues to be the leader in innovation, and such great innovations show how progressive Africa is in this space, and much more can be done to advance this industry, this is set to make a huge difference in one of the biggest industries in the continent.