A NEW virtual reality mine training centre has opened in Queensland in an effort to coach mine workers on safer work practices before heading underground.

Funded by the Queensland state government, the $500,000 Virtual Reality Mine Training Facility helps mining employees gain practical experience responding to emergency situations before heading underground.

“In the past, many trainees would begin employment without ever having experienced these conditions, but now they can do so in a safe and controlled environment,” Natural resources minister Andrew Cripps said.

“Training this way will help reduce the potential for critical mistakes to occur in the actual workplace and will protect the future of this industry that is vital to supercharging the Queensland economy.”

The facility was developed in partnership with Brisbane’s VR Space and uses Immersive VR technology featuring a 3D replica of a working Queensland coal mine with real-time, interactive graphics.

“This includes all above and underground equipment and mine infrastructure such as an operating longwall, continuous miners, loaders, shuttle cars, belt systems, support, ventilation devices and safety equipment,” Mr Cripps said.

“This level of detail will allow trainees to safely experience and respond to situations from many perspectives – including time and event pressure which is not possible in real-life.”

Mr Cripps said the project would eventually expand to cover metalliferous and open cut mining, to improve safety on a wider range of Queensland’s major resource projects.

“The resources sector employs thousands of Queenslanders and we expect there to be many thousands more as projects, such as those in the Galilee Basin, get underway,” he noted.

“While Labor dropped the ball on supporting innovation in the resources sector, the Newman Government is making it a priority to drive technologies and reforms that save lives.”

For more information about the facility, click here.