Virtual tour bringing mining to the surface
Greg Murtha has been many places creating multimedia virtual tours as president of Incline Village-based Xplorit Multimedia Technologies, from the U.S. Open Surfing Championships at Huntington Beach, Calif. to Kennedy Space Center in Orlando.
But his latest virtual tour of Nevada’s hardrock mining industry, unveiled two weeks ago at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, required Murtha and his team to travel 1,330 feet underground.
Xplorit filmed underground gold miners at Newmont Mining Corporation’s Pete Bajo mine in northeastern Nevada as one component of the virtual mining tour. The tour blends a mix of technologies to create an interactive story of Nevada’s mining industry. The virtual tour dissects every aspect of mining in Nevada, from exploration drilling and assay work to surface and underground operations to pouring gold doré bars and eventually reclaiming the land. The tour was produced in conjunction with the Nevada Mining Association.
Murtha admits that he didn’t really grasp the full scope of northeastern Nevada’s hardrock mining operations prior to the project.
“It was really an educational process for us,” Murtha says. “Like a lot of people I didn’t fully understand everything that is involved with mining. While they are large in operations, in the grand scheme of things it is a fairly minor percentage of impact on the land.”
One aspect of the learning curve: It’s hot, humid and moist a quarter-mile underground. The Xplorit filming crew battled moisture condensation on high-tech camera equipment as they filmed interviews with real-life Newmont miners working drilling rigs, rock bolters and installing wire mesh rock safety screening.
“We have done some amazing projects before — we got to go behind the scenes at Kennedy Space Center — but I have never been that far into the earth’s core,” Murtha says. “We were prepared with lighting, but we had no idea there would be so much moisture that far down. Our cameras were sweating.”
The Xplorit team was tasked with creating an interactive project that not only highlighted various features of the state’s mining industry, but also its impact on and benefits to regional communities and the state as a whole. Part of that strategy was to interview the workers responsible for getting gold out of the ground rather than corporate executives.
“It was important for us to create a piece that was genuine and authentic,” Murtha says. “We got real miners doing their jobs and telling us what they did, the pride they take in their work, and the sheer engineering they do to pull this stuff off.”
Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association, says that another key aspect of the virtual tour was to bring to life the changes in mining techniques and the myriad technologies used in Nevada mining operations.
“Modern mining began in the 1960s and few outside the industry understand or visualize modern processes, safety procedures and reclamation practices,” Crowley says. “The best way to show mining to our fellow Nevadans and impress upon them that mining is creating some of the state’s best jobs, furnishing the raw materials our economy demands and providing necessary resources to fund state and local governments is to take them to a mine and let them see first-hand. That’s simply not possible, so we created the virtual tour, which provides a comprehensive and interactive look into the lives of modern miners and the highly advanced technology they use on a daily basis to extract the minerals essential to our lives.”
Another benefit of using a Web-based platform for the virtual tour, Crowley notes, is the ability to add additional content.
The interactive tour of Nevada’s mining operations can be viewed at http://vtour.govtour.com/xplorit.php?tid=70628.
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