Seeing is believing 

During the Second World War, a popular myth theorised that eating carrots helped people, particularly young children, see in the dark. The myth was founded off the back of The Blitz of 1940, which saw the German Luftwaffe bomb London and major British cities under the cover of darkness. 

The response from the British government was to call for citywide blackouts to make it more difficult for the German bombers to hit their targets. While this was a good form of defence, it also made it more difficult for the British to spot German fighters as they flew through the night sky.

Despite the apparent difficulty, the British seemed quite adept at spotting and shooting down the planes. The reason for this? Carrots.

Well, that was British propaganda’s answer for it. High in vitamin A and not rationed during the war, the carrot myth was nothing more than misdirection designed to confuse the enemy and inspire the Home Guard. The reality was much simpler; the British were using an advanced radar system able to spot German planes before they reached the English Channel. 

The ability to ‘see’ your surroundings in low light situations is as relevant in mining today as it was during The Blitz, with up-to-date and accurate information pertaining to a site proving vital to the success of a project.

While the ability to see in the dark is not a new phenomenon in the mining industry, there have been some key developments that have furthered this capability. One of these developments – the advancement from 2D to 3D mapping of an underground mine – is something Wingfield Scale and Measure Senior Engineer James Kenney said was going to have an increasingly large impact on the mining industry.

“It can provide greater insight into some of the more complex workings of mining and mine management,” he said.

“Prior to 3D, only older 2D mapping and hand-drawn maps that lacked elevation were available, and in some cases no mapping data whatsoever. “3D allows for calculating over and under break, geotechnical work, sill verification, shaft mapping and maintenance and simulation checks, just to name a few.”

Although newer technology can allow workers to see underground mines in more detail, the greatest benefit, according to Mr Kenney, is data collection.

"The largest advantage, in my opinion, is creating a historical digital record with a large amount of valid data,” he said. 

“The information that can be documented from capturing data in 3D is extensive and probably not yet fully utilised or realised.”

Integration of 3D mapping will not happen overnight, and Mr Kenney urged caution when advocating for an all-encompassing approach, as introducing 3D data can be overwhelming at first. 

His recommendation was a slow and steady approach, one that tested the validity of the technology in different situations.

“Once the initial project or need has been addressed, the client can then start to explore the additional uses of the data,” Mr Kenney said. 

“For example, what started as initial mapping jobs at Wingfield have evolved into change detection, vehicle clearances in drifts, sill thickness confirmations, volumetrics, equipment measurements, pillar removal simulations and more – just by using the same original data sets.”

A key aspect of this technology is how it can unlock information in a minesite, which might previously have been missed or could have taken a long time to uncover. It makes the data and information more accessible to a wide range of people, who can then process the data accordingly and make appropriate decisions based on the information.

“With 3D we have helped clients map their underground workings to marry with their surface operations,” Mr Kenney said. 

“We have worked with virtual reality and augmented reality to bring the depths of the mine into a boardroom with a visual 3D presentation that can be rotated and viewed from all angels similar to holograms we’ve seen on TV shows or 3D laser art etched inside glass.

“The impact 3D data can have is extensive and it can be a very powerful tool if you know the potential and how to harness the data.”

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