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Maptek donates laser scanner to keep Wits at leading edge

- Wits University

The new laser scanner adds to the modern technology available to mining engineering students at Wits.

(l-r): Prof Fred Cawood, director of the Wits Mining Institute and Nick Venter, outgoing general manager – Maptek Africa

Maptek Africa, one the leading producers of mining technology has donated the I-Site 8800 Laser Scanner in support of the development of the next generation of mining professionals.

Maptek’s General Manager Nick Venter says the equipment will give students valuable insight into how this technology can assist in functions like survey, geology, geotechnical and mining.

The laser scanner was presented to the School on 4 November 2019 and is valued in excess of R6 million, including all its auxiliary hardware and software.

Expanding on the equipment’s capabilities, Venter says it “uses technology that combines long range laser scanning hardware with processing and modelling software for the mining industry. It can be used in both open pit and underground environments."

Data collected by the scanner can be applied in various duties, including: stope and drive survey; drive mapping; rock bolt identification; geotechnical analysis; stockpile volumes; mine modelling; and identifying tailings dam deformation. The equipment scans a large number of cloud points very quickly, providing detailed data that can be analysed with three-dimensional modelling and analysis software.

WMI Director Professor Fred Cawood says that real-time visualisation of underground environments for risk management is very important for safe mining. 

“The ability to scan complex scenes and then add risk management content to the point cloud, allows for a ‘realness’ that other forms of augmented reality are not capable of,” says Cawood. “It is in this context that the Maptek scanner will be put to very valuable use by the Wits Mining Institute.”

The Wits Mining Institute which received the equipment also hosts the Sibanye-Stillwater Digital Mining Laboratory (DigiMine), the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI) and the Centre for Mechanised Mining Systems (CMMS).

Head of the Wits School of Mining Engineering, Professor Cuthbert Musingwini has welcomed this contribution.

“The School of Mining Engineering deeply appreciates the Maptek laser scanner donation to the Wits Mining Institute because it will be beneficial for both teaching and research in geospatial techniques. This aligns well with our re-designed curriculum – which focuses on Mining 4.0,” Musingwini.

At the handover, senior lecturer as the Wits School of Mining Engineering, Huw Thomas, highlighted the value of raising technological awareness and competence among students.

Venter noted that Maptek has maintained a long and healthy relationship with Wits, recognising the importance of strong partnerships between academia, the mining sector and its technology suppliers.

Maptek 8800 Laser Scanner increases the modern technology available to mining engineering students at Wits.