Abstract

Rock related hazard identification and risk assessment within the confined underground mining space of a tabular mine can be a mastery skill which is sometime difficult to transfer. Failure to identify the lead indicators of ground instability, may unfortunately lead to a major loss, either in revenue, equipment or even a human life. Recent development in the virtual reality space as well as the use of games in education proved to have had a positive impact in the teaching and learning environment. The use of a computer simulated environment in the form of a virtual reality game where an underground worker is given the opportunity to identify the rock fall related hazards and associated risks. This then enables the worker to experience the cause-and-effect of the support design and implementation based on his/her decisions within the virtual game world. The environment is generated with a number of hazards which needs to be identified and taken cognizance of for doing a support design (cause). Given the scenario and available support elements, the candidate then determines the support methodology. The chosen elements are then marked by the trainee within the virtual game world, after which the approach is logically tested in the system. The results (effect) are then visually presented, positive or negative, based on the applied stability design and selected support elements.

1.
Introduction

New tunnel development in the South African mining industry peaked at levels as high as 800 km per annum in the hard rock industries, whereas the soft rock (coal) industry using a board and pillar layout far exceeded this. These excavations serves various purposes, from linking the stoping areas to the access excavations, to providing fresh air and travelling routes for man and material (including ore and waste).

Industry statistics indicate that a high proportion of fatal injuries occur within 5 m from the working face. This is as expected, since the bulk of the workforce is predominately concentrated at the face.

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