the point clouds into the mine’s coordinate system. They
reduced the density of the original point clouds from
roughly 10 mm spacing (0.03 ft) to 5 cm (0.16 ft) to produce
a more manageable dataset while preserving the accuracy
of the model or subsequent calculations.
The digital model depicted the rock surface of the tunnels
and drifts. But the narrow tunnels are filled with structures
and equipment that support the mine operations. These
additional objects were captured as part of the scanning
process, and the team created separate models of the vari-
ous pipes, conduits and other objects. These items could be
handled as standard 3D surfaces and exported directly to
CAD and major mining packages.
One of the primary applications for the model is computing
volumes, and the team also conducted deformation analy-
ses to compare the as-built tunnels to design information.
They could also use the models to detect potential safety
issues due to deformation or subsidence in the tunnels.
The SDUST team’s work demonstrated the ability of 3D
scanning to handle the industry’s demanding requirements.
They combined efficient processes with fast measuring
equipment to collect data with minimal disruption to nor-
mal mine operations. The tunnels are major components of
the underground mine structure, and the ability to create
accurate models contributes to mine safety and efficiency.
A second benefit emerged in the utilization of the 3D
models for mine planning and design. “The models from the
Trimble system enabled the mine management to transform
from manual to digital methods,” Wang said. “This intuitive
model for design improves support for decision makers for
high-efficiency operations.” By comparing the scanned data
with a tunnel’s design, engineers can confirm that the mine
is progressing according to plan and verify that the volume
of material moved agrees with design calculations.
The third key point, Wang said, is the ability to provide
detailed spatial data to specialized applications packages.
Using traditional surveying, it can be difficult to produce
comprehensive 3D models of tunnels and ore bodies. Be-
cause the Trimble FX system can generate data for use in
CAD, the system can significantly increase the digital aspect
of mine operations management.
At the completion of the one-year project, Wang's team had
scanned and processed data for roughly 12 miles (20 km) of
major tunnels. In addition to developing efficient approaches
for the underground work, the team created procedures
for data communications, office processing and export to
specialized software packages. Their work will be a driver for
continued development of China’s digital mines.
The SDUST team established procedures for working in the hot,
A 3D view illustrates a mine chamber with structural members
modeled from the point cloud.
Individual cross sections can be developed from the 3D scanning data.