Global Mining Giant Chooses GeoVisionary
VALE, the world’s second largest mining company, has adopted GeoVisionary software and installed a portfolio of Virtalis ActiveWorks 3D visualisation systems.
Henry Galbiatti, Vale’s general manager for iron ore exploration, closed mines and manganese planning, explained: “From our offices in Belo Horizonte, we constantly have new projects in the pipeline aimed at helping Vale to increase production, retain market share and maintain ore quality, so, naturally, long term planning is crucial if we are to successfully bring our plans to fruition. The nature of our business is such that visualisation is vital. Prior to our discovery of GeoVisionary, we used a GIS platform across our projects and while we had a small level of 3D capability, we weren’t able to understand fully and interact with our data. When I visited the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) ActiveWall and also Northampton University’s ActiveCube, I saw at once that GeoVisionary running in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment was exactly what we were looking for.”
Vale was created by the Brazilian Government in 1942 and was privatised in 1997, when it began to diversify. It is now a global company headquartered in Brazil, but operating on five continents. Vale operates in 38 countries and directly employs more than 126,000 people, as well as another 50,000 working on ongoing projects. Vale produces iron ore, pellets, nickel, fertilizers, copper, coal, cobalt, manganese and ferroalloys, as well as platinum group metals and precious metals. Any mineral extraction process involves copious amounts of geological research and geoscientists around the world have been increasingly following BGS’s trailblazing lead in using GeoVisionary to aid the visualisation of their complex data.
GeoVisionary was developed by Virtalis, in collaboration with BGS, as specialist software for the high-resolution visualisation of elevation and photography data overlaid with a wide range of geospatial data. The initial design goal was to ensure that data sets for large regions, national to sub-continental, could be loaded simultaneously and at full resolution, while allowing real-time interaction with the data. One of the major advantages GeoVisionary offers over other visualisation software (3 & 4D GIS) is its ability to integrate very large volumes of data from multiple sources, allowing a greater understanding of diverse spatial datasets.
The Virtalis ActiveWall is an installed, immersive, interactive 3D visualisation system and probably the best selling VR system in the world. Vale’s ActiveWall draws on active stereo technology and features a custom rear-projection screen, specialist computer, Virtalis custom software and a powerful projector. Movements within the ActiveWall environment are tracked using a tracking system. This added functionality alters the perspective of the visuals according to the user’s position and orientation within the scene to give a natural and accurate sense of relationship and scale. The hand held controller allows the immersive experience to be enhanced further. The user can navigate through the virtual world, pick and manipulate component parts in real-time and make decisions on the fly.
Vale’s ActiveWall is situated inside a dedicated room within the Long Term Planning Department (DIPF). The facility is managed by Marco Braga. He commented: “The installation of an ActiveWall has been a successful initiative and everybody is looking for opportunities to deploy it within their projects. The Virtalis installation was fast and the staff were very knowledgeable and helpful, so our first steps were easy.” Vale has also invested in a portable ActiveMove system and a multi-screen desktop VR system.
As Vale’s staff becomes more experienced in GeoVisionary, they are providing Virtalis with valuable feedback for the creation of a specific mining module, as well and deciding what unique further tailoring is required for Vale. The Company is using GeoVisionary not just for exploration and mine management, but also as an environment for staff training.
Galbiatti concluded: “GeoVisionary is currently being used on two important projects and then we hope to use the software on all our pipeline projects to help with mining, engineering and environmental matters. Already, we are finding that being able to see more data and having it in 3D we can visualise weaknesses and strengths within our projects much more easily and then act to make corrections faster. Once GeoVisionary is being routinely used, we’ll have to expand our hardware facilities too, so we are considering adding an ActiveCube, but we are moving one step at a time”.