Rio Tinto creates virtual mine to teach block caving

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has teamed up with Sydney's University of New South Wales to create the world's first virtual mine for the purpose of teaching block caving

The new Block Caving Knowledge Center is situated at the Northparkes Mines in central western New South Wales, and will enable trainee engineer to practice new mining techniques within the safety of a simulated environment.

Following the depletion of copper deposits which are accessible via open-cut mines companies are increasing turning to block caving, in which ore is collapsed under its own weight into purpose-designed collection chutes.

Block-cave mining is expected to become the chief means of copper extraction by the end of the decade, yet the new technique is not yet widely taught at tertiary institutions.

The AUD$13 million complex encompasses specialist features including an immersion theater for interaction with geotechnical data in a 3D environment and an underground simulator room.

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