VUMA Software has launched the latest version, VUMA3D-network 2.0, of its world leading windows-based software package for the modelling of mine ventilation and cooling networks.

VUMA, an acronym for Ventilation of Underground Mine Atmospheres, was developed by South African mining experts and scientists to assist mine designers to manage complex ventilation networks and to mitigate the high heat loads encountered deep below the surface of hard-rock mines.

The software solves airflow, heat flow, pollutants [dust, gas, radon and smoke] and temperature distributions throughout a ventilation circuit. Analysis of ventilation networks is now made significantly easier than before through the ease-of-use of this interactive state-of-the-art engineering package. The program can be used both as a planning tool and to verify the environmental performance parameters of operational mines.

In the past few decades technological advances have brought solutions, but also challenges to the international mining industry. Research organisations worldwide are continuously searching for new technologies to assist the mining industry to mine more safely and productively and to ensure high standards of health for mine personnel and minimise environmental damage.

One of the disciplines responsible for the well-being of underground employees in the modern mining industry is that of mine ventilation control. It is not surprising therefore that it has become essential for ventilation control engineers and practitioners to plan and design ventilation and cooling systems to a high degree of accuracy. These systems need to take into account modern mining methods, as well as the costly infrastructure needed for future ventilation and cooling requirements. Hence, to enable the practical and economical design of mine ventilation and cooling systems, ventilation practitioners need effective and modern design tools.

The VUMA suite of mine ventilation and cooling software is such a tool., and was developed as a joint initiative by the Mining Technology Division [Miningtek] of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] and South Africa based Bluhm Burton Engineering [BBE] through its mine software development subsidiary, VUMA Software.

The fundamental feature of the previous VUMA-Network software was the incorporation of user-friendly interfaces that allow simulation networks to be constructed and viewed graphically and what-if studies to be rapidly performed to determine optimal designs and system requirements. This latest version, building on the innovative capabilities of the previous version, offers several additional unique new features to meet the specific needs of deep hard-rock mines.

However, Wynand Marx, VUMA Software’s director, revealed that thirteen years of continuous development has now brought us to the next version of this pioneering software. In addition to order-of-magnitude improvements in ease of use and dramatically enhanced 3D graphics, VUMA3D-network 2.0 incorporates some truly innovative features that will facilitate planning and verification of the environmental parameters in an operational mine and boost productivity.

This windows-based software, Marx explains, not only makes it extremely easy to build a network on a graphical screen, provide mines with correct and accurate data and to import a mine design from other graphics programs, but can also be used for general ventilation network purposes in all mining methods.

Differentiating features of this software include, among others, unique specialised and verified modelling algorithms for most production zone types and development headings; verified heat models accounting for broken rock and face advance; look-up libraries for rock types, vehicles and fans ; an intelligent on-screen hint system; an improved reporting capability with multi-editing functionality; a user-friendly help function providing intelligent links throughout the system; all of which add a high level of technical value.

VUMA was first conceptualised in the mid-90s when it became clear that the industry needed a new level of mine ventilation software, Marx adds, to enter an entirely new realm of mine planning, via on-screen graphics that were simply not available anywhere before. The latest version embraces the latest 3D functionality.

Accordingly, Frank von Glehn, Technical Engineer BBE emphasised that this software enables the mine to specify its own design criteria to meet current local and international underground ventilation legislations and will not only inform the ventilation control engineers and practitioners in case of noncompliance, but will also compare the mine results against the mine standard and identify any discrepancies.

The overwhelming adoption of VUMA3D-network 2.0, added Frank, in a number of mining companies in countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Zambia, Canada etc has helped us take the lion’s share of the mine ventilation, cooling and environment control software market, becoming well entrenched in the mining industry as the design software of choice, across a broad spectrum of mining configurations.

The entire VUMA suite of software has been completely home-grown in South Africa and is supported by a team of local experts with decades of field experience. User feedback is continually incorporated in the software, to ensure that it remains relevant to the latest mining conditions. The VUMA team provides technical support on a rapid response basis via phone and e-mail, as well as through site visits if required.

Furthermore, users are now invited to attend free regular monthly Friday morning user workshops at VUMA Software’s offices in Sandton South Africa, that will address application questions and discuss suggestions for improvement in future versions. User training courses for new and existing users are also offered at the VUMA Software office, or at mining companies’ premises.

VUMA software represents a significant knowledge base and has taken mine ventilation, cooling and environment control design and management software to a completely new level. Other packages in the suite address aspects such as mine water network modelling and provide tools such as live monitoring software and a time-dependent air and heat flow simulator.

Mining operators all over the world appear to be showing increased commitment to ventilation and airflow standards, taking ventilation and cooling engineering far more seriously than in the past and are using sophisticated software such as VUMA3D-network 2.0 to do their life-of-mine planning, while managing ventilation costs effectively.