Release type: Media Release

Date:

Virtual reality training sends mine rescue workers underground

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

The latest virtual reality training and rescue simulator designed to reduce accidents and save lives in Australian open cut and underground mines was launched today by Minister for Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans.

The latest immersive 360° virtual reality simulation technology at the Newcastle Mines Rescue Station in Argenton enables miners to be trained in real life scenarios and test their responses to life-threatening hazards in a safe learning environment.

“This amazing new software demonstrates how technology can be used to train people for the very critical task of mine rescue,” Senator Evans said.

“While we would hope workers will never need to have to use these skills, or encounter mine accidents, it is reassuring to know that companies are investing in initiatives for the safety of Australian miners.”

Developed by Coal Services, the world-leading software package has been developed over the past 18 months and is the latest stage of a five-year project.

Senator Evans was joined at Coal Services by Member for Charlton and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, representatives of mining companies, senior union officials and members of the NSW parliament.

The audience was given a visual presentation of the program in a 360º virtual reality theatre before touring other facilities and viewing students undertaking training exercises using virtual reality programs.

Technical experts from Coal Services provided advice to mine operators in the recent Pike River coal mine explosion and the rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile last year.

Senator Evans said the Gillard Government is committed to improving the work health and safety of all Australians and the process to harmonise occupational safety laws across the states and territories was well underway.

While at the mine training site, Senator Evans also presided over the dedication of an historic Poppet Head – the top of the first steel headframe constructed in Australia in 1888 and a significant piece of Australia’s mining history.

“Today we celebrate both the heritage and the future of Australia’s coal mining industry - an industry in which the future is secure,” Senator Evans said.