Virtual geologist - creating photo-realistic 3D models of underground mines with instant Mine Modeller

Geological assessment of active mine faces enables ore grade control, geological modelling and exploration planning. Monitoring of the mine advancement at every drill-blast-muck cycle allows for effective production management. However, geological assessments are performed infrequently due to the need to travel to active mine faces, and detailed surveys to map the mine progress are performed at the end of the month. Instant Mine Modeller (iMM) is a portable ruggedized stereo-vision system that creates photo-realistic three-dimensional models of underground mine faces on-site. The 3D models are generated automatically within minutes and can be viewed underground and annotated with geological information. The overall ore percentages of the face are calculated automatically for grade control. Annotated 3D models are located in the mine coordinate system and can be imported into mine management systems. iMM allows for daily monitoring of the mine progress and geology, and for re-visiting the mine virtually as it existed. iMM has been deployed in an underground hard rock mine for 18 months, and it effectively brings the underground work face into mine management offices enabling the right decisions at the right time. iMM has demonstrated benefits to various mine processes including grade control, geological mapping, 3D photo-realistic as-built and production volume.