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A new virtual reality experience in Minéro

A new virtual reality experience in Minéro

Minero – Thetford Museum | On Thursday, May 30, KB3 opened its new VR experience as well as showcasing the improvements made to the site's accessibility. These two projects, totaling approximately $190,000, were made possible thanks to the participation of the Ministry of Tourism, Desjardins, and the City of Thetford Mines.

During their visit to the King Mine Historic Center (KB3), visitors will now be able to enjoy an immersive experience at the heart of an underground mine. “We installed this space in our underground gallery, specifically in the cafeteria. We had a piece of furniture made to install eight VR headsets. The duration is about 12 minutes. At one time, it would have been possible to go down into the underground galleries of Thetford Mines. The Bell Mine closed in 2018 and the site is no longer accessible “That's why we decided to create this new offering,” said Director of Communications and Development, Michael Caron.

To achieve this, his team enlisted the help of Patrick Nadeau and Caroline Hamel, specialists in capturing images in virtual reality. Accompanied by teachers Jean-François Howard and Nadia Paquet from the Mineral Technology Department of the Cégep de Thetford, they had the opportunity to carry out a week of filming at Eldorado Gold's Lamaque mine in Val-d'Or.

“One of the big challenges was finding a mining company that would accept us. It was a little longer work than we had hoped, but everything went well. We were well received,” said Patrick Nadeau.

The initial idea was to shoot in 360 degrees, but once there, he noticed the complexity of the places. “There is not much light and space in the galleries is very limited. We bought a 180-degree 3D camera, and with this equipment we went underground. »

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The group was able to go to a depth of 800 meters, accompanied by a guide assigned by the company. “We spent about five days in the mine. We followed the workers. The fact that we couldn’t stop operations for filming was also a challenge. We had to slip into the good times,” he said.

“Before we got there, we made a list of everything we wanted to see and photograph. “We gave this to the guide and were able to go to different places,” Jean-François Howard added.

About an hour of video was captured. Certain sequences, which are intended to be more technical, will be used by students from Cégep de Thetford.

Note that new technologies have been used to facilitate the work. “When editing the video, we used artificial intelligence to build the narration. We are still doing checks to make sure the information is accurate. Patrick Nadeau then confirmed that the audio that people will hear was created by artificial intelligence.

For Michael Caron, this new experience will allow us to compare the old with the new. “The Lamac mine is modern and active. Visitors will be able to see what is done today compared to the ways of doing things back then. They can also see the machinery that was used in our mines. »

Better accessibility

Over the past few months, Minero – Thetford Museum | KB3 has carried out works to improve access to the King Mine Historic Center for people with limited mobility.

Concrete sidewalks were installed in various sectors of the site. Parking spaces for people using wheelchairs have also been provided near the foundations of the mini-factory.

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“As for the interior, we have installed electric door motors and air-conditioned two bathrooms. We started work last year and continued until recently. For an industrial site, we are proud to be able to say that we have a site that is easily accessible to a large majority of people,” Mr. Caron concluded. “It's a very good start for us,” he said.