The overall aims of ECSC project 7220 PR-134, completed in June 2005, were to investigate the effectiveness and benefits that can be derived from using virtual reality (VR) as a training medium within the coal mining industry. UK work on the project was undertaken by the University of Nottingham, Camborne School of Mines (CSM), Mines Rescue Service Ltd (MRSL) and International Mining Consultants (IMC). Specific objectives of the research included identifying and developing training applications of VR, (a) to improve the hazard awareness and risk perception of mine workers, (b) to simulate emergency scenarios and responses and, (c) to be utilised in regard to equipment simulation.
Collaboration between CSM, IMC and MRSL resulted in the development of :-
Responses from MRSL training staff following a series of demonstrations of the final VR simulation programmes were all very positive and supportive of the potential for employing VR in training programmes. The three simulations were developed using Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML). As a result of using VRML, the simulations developed can all be viewed and operated on almost any PC using a VRML browser. A VRML browser is simply a program that reads VRML files and displays the geometry, lighting, and animation as a 3D world. VRML browsers are widely available as free downloads on the web and may be found as stand-alone programs or as plug-ins for Web browsers. The three completed VR simulations are now available on CD and provide the industry with a source of VR training material that can be easily used on its own, or incorporated into existing training programmes. The full report is expected to be published by the EU later in the year.
The overall objectives of MRSL’s contribution to this RFCS project,RFC-CR-03006 (WATERCHEM) are to offer solutions for effective mine closure, improved knowledge of ground water movement for working mines and effective surface environmental control of factors resulting from mining activities, both past and present. To achieve these overall objectives, the study is designed to:
MRSL have configured Laptop PCs with GPS facilities and mapping and survey facilities, to improve field operations capabilities, and field trials were undertaken during the latter part of 2005. Members of the Field Operations staff who are routinely responsible for providing the first response to surface hazards were given a brief introduction to the use and operation of the system on a one-to-one basis, prior to them using the equipment. User feedback from these trials indicated that:
The investigation and analysis of data collected from the surface hazards attended by MRSL continued throughout the year. During the latter half of 2005, MRSL attended a total of 191 surface hazards. The data collected from these hazards was added to the database developed within the project, which contains further details on the number, type and distribution of the surface hazards recorded.
The recent trend of an increase in old mine shafts being detected due to shaft collapse, infill settlement, capping disturbance and shallow working collapse continued. Two surface hazards were selected as potential case studies to be investigated in further detail.
The issue of acidic mine water having a corrosive effect on shaft linings, and therefore a major contributory effect on shaft collapse, was further studied. Immersion tests using simulated acid mine water and concrete cores were continued. Soak test conditions were maintained to enable longer-term and more detailed immersion test results to be obtained. These on-going tests will be terminated and analysis carried out towards the end of the project period. Interim observations indicate that the detrimental effect of mine water on shaft competency may not be solely attributable to its acidy. Consequently, an additional aim of these extended tests is to better identify/quantify physical and chemical effects and determine potential links to shaft lining/capping failure. The project continues to early 2007.
UK Coal is co-ordinating this new RFCS project, RFC-CR-0501 (ADEMA), with MRSL, Herriot Watt University and Seismic Image Processing as other UK partners. The project consists of a package of integrated research which seeks to enhance mining exploration and planning capability, both at a strategic and tactical level. The main topics for development are seismic surveys, radio imaging through coal panels, drilling parameter analysis, micro seismic activity and predictive analysis.
modelling techniques developed in the oil industry are being investigated and adapted. A 3D seismic survey covering 24 sq km has been reprocessed and the data is ready for inputting to the seismic inversion and modelling project. A piezo-electric system has been selected to build the acoustic array for identifying rock properties.
An analysis has begun of radio imaging methods whereby the geological structure of the ground is deduced by measuring the attenuation of medium frequency electromagnetic waves over a number of intercepting paths. Initial work has involved an assessment of the parameters that govern the efficiency of the transmitter and receiver, which will lead to methods of improving their performance.
Recording drilling parameters is a useful and economical technique for acquiring geotechnical information of ground parameters. Drilling equipment monitors, measures and records drilling parameters for analysis of ground conditions. Equipment has been acquired to provide field measurements for analysis and correlation with rock mass properties. Collecting geological information from underground workings and boreholes is an essential part of the program. Logging the geology is in hand at Daw Mill but the coring program is behind schedule because of colliery priorities. The project continues to 2008.