Virtual diamonds are forever

The 3DEXCITE solution, based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, allows Debswana to design virtual tours, maintaining a sense of the mine’s huge scale.

Once cut, diamonds are the essence of purity. But getting them out of the ground involves the same noise, dust and risk of accidents as those found in any other mine, whether underground or open-pit. This is why Debswana – a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer – wanted to offer visitors a realistic virtual tour of its Jwaneng mine and associated processing plant.

Virtual tours avoid the issues that arise with real-world tours, which require adjusted safety rules in the presence of visitors, a one hour visitor safety briefing, attendance by engineers to provide explanations, 3-4 hours of walking in a hot, noisy and dusty environment and, although controlled, the real risks associated with any industrial site or mine.

The 3DEXCITE solution, based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, allows Debswana to design virtual tours, maintaining a sense of the mine’s huge scale while also educating visitors about its processes and facilities.

The virtual 3D tour is an enhanced interactive experience: visitors can move around the mine and learn detailed information about the mining process. The 3D rendering produces a simplified visual presentation, making the process easier to understand by removing unimportant details.

The experience starts with a bird’s-eye view of the processing plant in operation, and visitors then can explore each building in detail. By selecting a building, the visitor can zoom in and see what is happening inside, with a particular focus on the machinery. Visitors can find out contextual information about each machine, and sectional views are available for some machines.

An immersive 360° video experience also gives an idea of the mine’s sheer scale. During the tour, visitors can select various video sequences to make them feel like they are actually present within this world, with each scene – featuring spatial audio effects – depicting different situations. Huge vehicles, enormous machines and spectacular blasting operations give visitors a genuine feel for how a mine works, without the drawbacks or risks. Debswana also is planning to upgrade and reuse the initial model to train its staff and to carry out real-time supervision of the plant and mine.

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