A Look at How Newmont Is Imagining the Mine of Tomorrow through Virtual Reality

This is the third of four posts in a series on Strategic Mine Planning at Newmont.

Richard Inglis wants you to experience the value of virtual reality. “Some like to think that virtual reality in mining is just a trend,” he says. “It’s not. Every day, it’s helping us make smarter decisions faster.”

As Newmont’s Principal Development Geologist, Richard provides consulting for geological modeling and oversees implementation of mine geology tools and techniques like virtual reality. “I test hardware and facilitate software development that enables virtual reality applications across Newmont,” he explains.

Richard’s work is helping Newmont visualize results of exploration and development drilling, geological models, grade models and topography. The human brain has a hard time translating real-world 3-D on a 2-D computer screen. “But with virtual reality,” Richard says, “we’re able to see drill holes and geology models in a different way, at real scale.” With a new “heightened level of reality,” Newmont’s people can identify potential errors virtually and make better decisions in actual practice.

ParaView software – an open-source, multi-platform data analysis and visualization application – is enabling such decision-making. “We chose the platform for its high-performance computation,” Richard explains. “It’s also open-sourced, so any enhancements we make are readily available to all.”

“Virtual reality is proving to be a powerful communication tool to showcase our operations and projects to investors, analysts, reporters and Board members.”
– Marcelo Godoy, VP, Resource Evaluation and Mine Planning

Technological innovations don’t just stop at mine planning, as virtual reality–equipped headsets have become a valuable tool for stakeholder engagement as well. Richard and his team can now take investors underground (while standing in the middle of a trade show) and help community members envision a future reclamation project (from the comfort of an office chair).

Richard sees the relationship between mining and virtual reality growing even stronger. As prices for hardware come down, more and more vendors will recognize its potential to model and design the mines of the future. “Virtual reality in our industry will only be limited by our imagination.”