Virtual insights into the future of Australia’s minerals industry

The Future Industries Institute will develop a new immersive virtual reality (VR) education and outreach program for the Australian minerals industry to help attract the best and brightest to the sector.

Project LIVE-MM (Learning through Immersive Virtual Environments for Minerals and Mining) will create interactive virtual reality experiences to allow students to “become a geologist for a day”, using the power of VR to provide an insider’s view of geoscience in action and serve as a launching pad for future careers.

Led by Associate Professor Tom Raimondo in collaboration with Dr Justin Payne, Dr Caroline Tiddy and Dr Stefan Peters, the team will develop the platform over the next two years.  Project LIVE-MM will work with the recently announced MinEx CRC, a $215-million minerals industry joint research project to be led by FII's Professor David Giles and co-located at UniSA.  This collaborative effort will see Future Industries Institute researchers leading the research that will drive the future of the minerals industry and developing virtual reality modules aimed to attract the best talent.

With $100,000 funding from the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Tomorrow’s Professionals Program, the focus of Project LIVE-MM will be to capture key field sites and activities that convey core minerals industry skills and capabilities.  This will allow the development of fundamental geological knowledge and its application, to innovative research studies and their use in revealing the subsurface, to demonstrations of new technologies and how they are employed in authentic scenarios.

Highly instructive field sites are often situated in inaccessible or remote locations where training visits are impractical or cost-prohibitive, and recent advances in virtual and augmented reality have meant these sites can be captured and shared in a way that immerses students, researchers and others in the field environment.

Digital visualisation is achieved through a suite of technologies including Remotely Piloted Aircraft (drone) surveying, 3D photogrammetry, gigapixel photography, terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR), 360-degree panoramic photos and videos, augmented reality apps and VR headsets. 

These modules will give students a critical first impression of the industry that is both fun and stimulating and interactive, and the program will provide early exposure to digitally-enriched learning and technologies that are already being used in professional practice.