Project Overview

  1. Project Directors: Dennis Del Favero, Jeffrey Shaw
  2. Programmers: Matthew McGinity, Ardrian Hardjono, Jared Berghold, Alex Kuptsov, Marc Chee, Robin Chow, Xin Guan
  3. Project Funding: UNSW University Capital Infrastructure Grants Scheme, UNSW School of Mining Engineering

mining vr iCast

Research into virtual environments that allow for narrative simulations that address the complexity of working underground has been constrained by its ability to create adequately realistic and immersive scenarios.

iCASTS is a world-first fully immersive and audio-visually realistic environment that allows for the recreation of complex underground mining scenarios. It provides a platform for research into prototyping the types of narrative and visualisation that can aesthetically address the multi-faceted nature of underground technology and mining events. Combining a unique visual interaction design and industrial grade custom wireless keyboard interface, it allows up to 30 users to navigate through seven kilometres of an underground 360 degree tunnel labyrinth and interact with a large number of scenarios.

The significance of the system is attested by: a) exhibition at APPEA Conference, Australia’s leading Oil and Gas industry exposition; b) winner of the world leading Gold IDEA award for interactive design, 2009 (USA), the judges noting “A thoughtful approach to immersive learning… The potential applications are a class apart"; and c) cited 15 times in major news reports including BBC.

In 2008, iCASTS’ suite of VR simulations and platforms were commercialised for the Australian Coal Services Pty Ltd for $7.2M as a permanent training simulator housed in custom-designed facilities across five sites, using the AVIE, AVIE_SC and iDOME visualisation platforms.

iCASTS – CCTEG was adapted in 2013 and developed for the Shenyang Research Institute of China Coal Technology & Engineering Group (CCTEG) for a $1M commercialisation. Designed in collaboration with local architects, builders, designers, mine engineers and project managers, it saw extensive on-site consultation, installation and post-installation testing and facilitation in Fushun ensured implementation of a custom fit-out. The adaptation of the system delivered highly realistic 3D models of a customised underground mine environment in which a wide range of hazard and technology scenarios could be simulated.



  • Shenyang Research Institute, Fushun, 2012
  • APPEA Conference, Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, 2010
  • Mines Rescue Pty Ltd Australian Facilities in Woonona, Argenton, Lithgow & Singleton, 2008
  • Simulation – Maximising Organisational Benefits at the SimTech Conference, Convention & Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, 2008