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Mixed Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education

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Abstract

This chapter deals with the integration of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) elements into academic mining education. The focus lies on the didactical approach within the EU-funded MiReBooks (Mixed Reality Books) project. The project aims to develop a series of AR- and VR-based interactive mining manuals as a new digital standard for higher education across European engineering education. By combining AR and VR technologies, it is possible to address current challenges in mining education in an innovative way. These virtual applications should make otherwise impossible and dangerous situations accessible to students. Classical paper-based teaching materials are enriched with AR content and translated into pedagogically and didactically coherent manuals for integrative use in the classroom. The authors explore how AR and VR instruments can be effectively integrated into teaching. The results of a broad evaluation of AR/VR-based lectures are presented and discussed in this chapter. The experiences and findings are summarized in a decision matrix for the use of AR/VR-based technologies in teaching.
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
1
Mixed Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in
Mining Engineering Education
Lea Daling, Christopher Kommetter, Anas Abdelrazeq, Markus Ebner and
Martin Ebner
Abstract This chapter deals with the integration of Augmented and Virtual
Reality (AR/VR) elements into academic mining education. The focus lies on the
didactical approach within the EU-funded MiReBooks (Mixed Reality Books)
project. The project aims to develop a series of AR and VR based interactive mining
manuals as a new digital standard for higher education across European engineering
education. By combining AR and VR technologies, it is possible to address current
challenges in mining education in an innovative way. These virtual applications
should make otherwise impossible and dangerous situations accessible to students.
Classical paper-based teaching materials are enriched with AR content and
translated into pedagogically and didactically coherent manuals for integrative use
in the classroom. The authors explore how AR and VR instruments can be
effectively integrated into teaching. The results of a broad evaluation of AR/VR-
based lectures are presented and discussed in this chapter. The experiences and
findings are summarized in a decision matrix for the use of AR/VR-based
technologies in teaching.
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
2
11.1 Introduction
The challenges in mining studies are diverse. In particular, the lack of transferability
of theoretical knowledge into practical work and thus a smooth transition from
university to professional life are problems that have not been sufficiently solved
so far (Kazanin and Drebenstedt 2017). Many areas of mining, such as blasting, can
for the most parts only be dealt with in theory. A practical and realistic
demonstration of a blast is a logistical challenge. In addition, witnessing a blast with
a group of students would be dangerous. Moreover, it would only be possible to
watch the blasting from a safe distance, the detailed procedures would be
unattainable and not easy to observe due to the fast speed of the process. Therefore,
such a blasting process is limited to the presentation in the lecture hall.
Other processes, such as the loading of rubble onto trucks, can only be observed
sequentially; static calculations can be simulated, but not actually tested. Visiting a
mine would also only be possible to a limited extent and in small groups. An
observation and guidance with description would be unimaginable, if only because
of the noise and the dangers. In summary, it can be stated that teaching that is as
practice-oriented as possible, which is important for a significant learning success
according to Reich (2002), is difficult to implement in the area of teaching in mining
education.
11.1.1 The Potential of AR and VR in Teaching
According to Milgram and Kishino (1994), Augmented Reality (AR), as well as
Virtual Reality (VR), is understood as part of a spectrum between reality and
virtuality. AR can help to overcome these challenges in mining education by
merging the physical and digital worlds in real time. AR is used to expand the real
world’s perception with virtual objects. Thus, natural processes for interaction with
virtual objects are enabled (Lee 2012). Physical activity is a basic prerequisite for
conceptual understanding. The Learning outcomes are enhanced through
interaction (Radu 2014). In addition to teacher-supported learning, an AR system
should also offer the possibility of self-taught learning for students in order to meet
their needs (Kaufmann 2003).
The use of fully immersive virtual worlds allows learners to interact naturally with
objects as they are used to (Winn 1993). With fully immersive VR worlds,
implemented for example with VR glasses, mines could be visited virtually by a
large number of students at the same time. Processes such as drilling can be repeated
at any time and viewed from close up. Hazardous areas can be overcome during
observation and the viewing angles can be freely selected. Any additional
descriptions and information could be displayed on demand in the virtual mine.
This ensures autodidactic learning or repetition of what has been learned at home.
Recently, there is an increasing fusion of these technologies, for example to work
with augmentations in completely immersive VR environments. For this reason,
AR and VR are considered in this chapter together and also as mixed solutions,
realized by different end devices. A major advantage of using AR and VR systems
over conventional teaching media and materials is the ability to animate objects,
respond to the user's actions, and transcend the physical boundaries of real objects
(Woods et al. 2004). Many teaching media and materials can only partially satisfy
the demand for a self-directed, activating and constructing learning process
(Hellriegel and Čubela, 2018).
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
3
AR and VR can also improve distance learning, as interfaces that support remote
actions with other learners or teachers who connect to existing objects (Mellet-
d’Huart 2012). It can improve the way students learn in a creative and convenient
way: for example, an ordinary building can be extended with educational content
so that students are able to read things while remaining the way they are used to
interact with the environment (Kaufmann 2003).
In order to increase the desired learning outcomes, collaborative interactions with
adults and peers will help to achieve this by revealing the thinking process,
knowledge and skills of their peers (Thorsteinsson and Page 2007). An essential
aspect of collaboration is that users can show each other facial expressions, gestures
and body language, which increases communication possibilities (Billinghurst and
Kato 1999). Social interaction between students in the same physical space should
be a very important goal for an educational environment (Roussos et al. 1999). AR
systems can achieve this better than VR applications because they only extend the
physical world, not replace it. The use of action-oriented learning can positively
improve the relationship between reflection and action through collaboration
(Wagner and Ip 2009). Therefore, we are interested in determining the scope of the
learning environments used, whether students have used the system independently
or whether they use the same virtual space for collaboration.
11.1.2 The MiReBooks project: Using AR and VR Technologies in
Teaching
MiReBooks is a new digital learning experience that explores the way mining is
taught, applied and changed in the future. By using traditional paper-based teaching
materials and enriching them with AR and VR-based experiences, professors and
teachers can now teach phenomena in the classroom or lecture hall and students can
experience those experiences that are not normally easily accessible in the real
world. The intention is to ensure that complex mining questions no longer pose a
challenge to learning progress. Thus, students can complete their studies with a
better understanding of their discipline. Through thoughtful didactical integration
into lesson plans, students will be able to use new forms of participation appropriate
to the needs of their generation. MiReBooks should change the way students are
taught by enabling teachers to involve their students more effectively and to provide
them with an expanded repertoire of content and increased comprehension. The
range of possible examples of the industrial mining environment in which students
can immerse themselves becomes endless, giving industry graduates a holistic view
of the industrial context. Students will enter the labor market as digital natives and
will have a significant impact on the functioning and development of the industry
in the future. Implementing AR and VR seems to be a promising way to improve
learning experiences through operational efficiency and innovation. The tool is
therefore also attractive for industrial use in vocational training, in order to bring
existing employees up to date. MiReBooks will be the lubricant for social and
environmental change and innovation in mining, safe and healthy working
conditions, and mining processes and equipment.
11.2 Evaluation of AR and VR Technologies in Teaching
In order to evaluate the usefulness and usability of AR and VR technologies in
mining education, various technologies have been tested within the framework of
test lectures at different partner universities of the MiReBooks project. Within these
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
4
lectures, different sets of hardware components were included (Standalone and
computer connected VR-headsets; such as HTC Vive, Oculus Go, and Oculus
Quest, AR capable smartphones with and without head mounts such as Samsung
Galaxy S9, and a router-based solution for interconnecting different VR headsets).
During the test lectures, classical teaching materials were used (PPT, Whiteboards,
Blackboard) and combined with small breakout sessions providing AR or VR based
experiences. In total, there were 12 test lectures (four on open pit bench blasting,
three on hard rock underground drift development, two on hauling in mining, and
another three on continuous surface mining). Previously, all lecturers were asked to
fill a storybook on their lectures containing the aim and use of the respective media
for a certain learning objective.
11.2.1 Research Design and Procedure
While the main hypothesis of using AR and VR-based technologies in lectures is to
enable a more efficient transfer of knowledge, we aimed at getting a first insight on
the usability and usefulness of the technologies for each student and teacher within
the test lectures. Thus, the first question to be answered is how these technologies
can be effectively integrated into teaching scenarios such as lectures, tutorials,
exercises, homework, or group work in terms of time, frequency of use, as well as
user acceptance and perceived usefulness by the students.
In order to evaluate the learning and teaching experience when using AR or VR in
lectures in mining, we used a combination of questionnaires (directly after the test
lectures) including open questions to investigate usability of hardware as well as
the possibilities for further improvements and adjustments for more efficient use of
these technologies in the learning environment.
11.2.2 Questionnaires
Test lectures were evaluated using a questionnaire for both students and teachers.
We collected data on general information, such as demographic data or professional
background, as well as previous experiences with various technologies. System
Usability Scale (SUS; Brooke 1996) was used for the evaluation of the respective
technology. If several technologies were used in the lectures, SUS was filled out
for each technology used. A SUS score between 60-80 means that the system is
marginally acceptable, values above 80 show good to excellent system usability and
100 points indicate an excellent rated system that fully meets users' expectations.
Although several authors have shown that SUS is reliable and valid, the final score
does not indicate why the evaluated technology has high or low usability (Sauro
2011) For this reason, the questionnaire included three additional open questions
for students (What did you particularly like about the use of AR and VR in the test
lecture? What benefit do AR and VR technologies offer over traditional teaching
materials? What would have to be changed in order to use AR and VR successfully
in teaching?), while teachers were asked to answer two more open questions (Which
of the technologies listed in the table on page 1 “How often do you use the following
devices?” have you already used in teaching and how? If you held this test lecture
previously in other universities: what was different this time compared to your
previous test lecture(s)?”).
11.2.3 Participants
In total, 120 students took part in the test lectures, either invited as participants of
summer schools or via announcement within regular lectures. Out of that, 78 of the
participants were undergraduate /graduate students, 36 were PhD students. 64.82%
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
5
of the students were from the mining area. Five different lecturers ran the test
lectures.
11.3 First Results
The analysis of the questionnaires focuses on aspects of perceived usability of the
technology (student and teacher perspective) and reveals feedback on opportunities
and challenges of AR and VR technologies in mining education. Since no sufficient
number of answers from the teachers’ perspective could be obtained, these results
cannot be analyzed and presented within the scope of the paper. In order to
sufficiently cover the perspective of the teachers, interviews are currently being
conducted with teachers with and without technology experience. In this paper, we
therefore only deal with the perspective of the students.
11.3.1 Evaluation Results
According to the SUS for tested technological equipment, Oculus Quest reaches the
highest score of all VR headsets (with mean score of 79 points). Samsung Galaxy
was ranked afterwards (mean score of 77 points), followed by Oculus Go and HTC
Vive (both with mean score of 72 points). As for AR technology, Samsung Galaxy
S9 was used and rated with mean score of 79 points.
The results of the three open questions “(1) What did you particularly like about the
use of AR and VR in the test lecture?”, “(2) What added value do AR and VR
technologies offer over traditional teaching materials?”, and “(3) What would have
to be changed in order to use AR and VR successfully in teaching?”, are
summarized in the following. The answers of the first two questions can be
clustered in three categories: Learning experience and motivation, teaching
methods, and feedback on the use of technology. Referring to learning experience
and motivation, participants of the test lectures pointed out that AR/VR
technologies assist greatly in transferring knowledge and enable a better
understanding of the subject. Thus, students reported as a benefit to have the
possibility to obtain in-field experience without leaving a classroom. Students
particularly liked their active role and the interactive learning, which is perceived
as more helpful to learn about more complex issues. With regard to the perception
of teaching methods, students stated to like that several senses are addressed (sight
and hearing) while using 360°VR. The better visualization with a special close look
to practice, field, and machines leads in their opinion to a better imagination of
theoretical issues. Furthermore, they mentioned the possibility of safe and
timesaving field trips and excursions as helpful. In terms of the use of technology
students stated to like the interaction with AR and VR content and to explore
relevant objects/processes on their own. The technology is described as easy to use
and turns learning into fun. Moreover, it offers more action than just sitting and
looking at the blackboard.
At the same time, the evaluation of the third question revealed many approaches for
improving the technology, as well as feedback for structuring an AR/VR-based
lecture and teaching conditions. Referring to the improvements of the technology,
students mainly would like to have the possibility to interact with their teacher.
They would like to be better navigated by the lecturer (e.g., objects the lecturer is
talking about should be highlighted or pointed somehow). Playing 360° videos
should be simultaneous for every student. The quality of the videos is desired to be
higher and effects such as screen flickering should be eliminated. One issue is that
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
6
students cannot take notes while being in VR or using the AR App, so they have to
remember what the lecturer explains. Furthermore, students would like to be
informed about the impact of VR on their health. While structuring a lecture using
AR and VR content, teachers should particularly pay attention to clearly express
the learning goals. Furthermore, teachers should give time to explore the
technologies and the respective environment. Special attention should be paid to
create optimal teaching conditions. Thus, there should be enough space to move in
the classroom and students wished for a small number of students participating in a
AR/VR-based lecture. The number of headsets should be adjusted according to the
number of students and a fast and stable Wi-Fi should be provided. Students also
mentioned the importance of well trained and experienced lecturers here.
11.3.2 Limitations
On the one hand, a great number of students took part in the evaluation, whose
answers were evaluated with regard to opportunities and limitations or AR/VR-
based lectures in mining. On the other hand, not all students could be tested and
interviewed under the same conditions (different lecturers, different rooms,
different topics and technologies). Under certain circumstances, the different
conditions can have an influence on the evaluation of the technologies. This should
be taken into account when considering the results. Furthermore, it should be taken
into consideration that technical issues such as unstable WLAN connection could
have affected the students’ opinions. This represents more of university
infrastructure issues than the tested technologies itself. The evaluation presented
here shows only the results of the students due to too low response rates. In order
to ask the perspective of the teachers, 1:1 interviews are currently being conducted.
11.4 Discussion
The results of the evaluation initially provide information about the user-
friendliness and improvement possibilities of the technology. The evaluation results
of SUS show that Oculus Quest is the most convenient among the tested VR
headsets. When using AR, only one device was tested that achieved the same score
as the Oculus Quest. For both media it should be considered that there is still a lot
of room for improvement. When using AR technology, for example, the scaling of
the model shown should be worked on so that it also provides a good overview with
the smartphone. In the area of VR, it becomes clear that a high resolution and
quality of the 360 videos is indispensable for the success of the application.
In addition, insights were gained into the integration of these technologies into
teaching. From this it can be deduced what, from the students' point of view, has
to be considered before, during and after the AR/VR-based lecture and accordingly
contributes to the success of the lecture. In terms of lecture preparation, it can be
concluded that the targeted use of media should be integrated into the formulation
of learning objectives. The first question to be answered is which level of
knowledge transfer is to be achieved before choosing which medium is to be used
and when. For an initial insight and getting to know a subject, it will therefore be
sufficient to simply show an environment (e.g. a video or the representation of a
model in AR). If the aim is to achieve a deeper understanding, interaction
possibilities with the learning object and possibilities for direct feedback should be
taken into account. (e.g., the collaborative finding of a solution for a specific
problem in VR). Furthermore, the conditions of the premises should not be
underestimated. A stable WLAN connection is just as important as ensuring room
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
7
for movement for the students. In addition, there should be enough technology
available for the students or at least the possibility to follow the scenery on a screen.
During the implementation it should be ensured that the teacher gives the students
enough time to familiarize themselves with the technologies. In addition, the
teacher should be able to resolve minor technical issues himself or herself, or get
support by technical assistance. The students found it particularly helpful to have
an active role in the learning process and to be able to explore the environments
themselves. Many of the students reported having a lot of fun interacting with these
technologies. These factors are particularly important for increasing intrinsic
motivation. Furthermore, it was emphasized that the location- and time-independent
possibility for field trips represents an added value. Special importance is attached
to the possibility of interaction between students and teachers in VR. A
simultaneous control and navigation through the learning environment as well as
the giving of pointers should be made possible. In the course of the follow-up to
the AR/VR-based lecture, the students consider it useful to make the content
available for private use as well. In this way, specific processes can be reconstructed
and refreshed at a later point in time.
In general, it can be summarized that a targeted and didactically well-designed use
of AR/VR technologies can result in great added value for the students. So far, the
perspective of the teachers has not been sufficiently taken into account in the current
study. The changing role of acting more and more as a moderator to enable active
learning processes could be a great challenge for those. The ability to feel confident
in the use of the technologies should also be taken into account in a further survey.
11.5 Conclusion and Outlook
When using AR and VR technologies in an educational environment, bases such as
learning object and learning outcomes as well as the level of knowledge transfer (as
specified, e.g., in the learning outcome taxonomy according to Bloom in 1973),
should be addressed. Furthermore, other factors such as teaching setting, technical
setup, teaching method, and type of media have to be considered. The assessment
of these factors makes it possible to identify new possibilities for implementing
future AR and VR applications in teaching.
Derived from of the evaluation’s findings, a first draft for a decision matrix (see
Fig. 11.1) is presented. The matrix underlines that the choice of medium should be
made at the end of the decision-making chain. First, questions about the learning
object and the learning outcome to be achieved should be answered. Subsequently,
one has to consider questions about the setting and teaching method before deciding
which technology will be used in the lecture. Each column of the decision matrix
should be understood as a varying spectrum which is flexibly assignable. Thus, the
matrix intended to serve as a compass to consider the most useful features in the
use of AR and VR technologies. Ideally, the matrix is used starting with the learning
object. Accordingly, corresponding learning objectives are formulated and assigned
to the respective taxonomy levels. Then the different factors (setting, teaching
method, and AR/VR technologies) have to be examined in more detail. For
instance, in order to achieve a higher taxonomy level, where students are
encouraged to actively learn and independently develop new topics, a smaller space
with possibilities for interaction is more suitable. Here, the students can work alone
or in groups with the respective technologies. On the other hand, in a large
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
8
auditorium it may be more suitable to enrich the frontal teaching with demos or
videos.
ADD Fig. here
Fig. 11.1 Decision matrix for the use of AR and VR technologies in teaching
Nevertheless, the characteristics on the spectrum may vary, resulting in new
constellations. Accordingly, a higher taxonomy level of knowledge transfer can of
course also be achieved within the framework of a lecture in the auditorium -
however, it should then be taken into account how the level of interaction or the
number of technologies can be adapted.
It must be emphasized that the derived matrix only reflects the findings of the
previous evaluation. Only the perspective of the students was taken into account.
Factors from the teachers’ perspective could extend the matrix, for example, by
financial aspects or factors that are related to preparatory work (e.g. technical
support in the preparation of the content). In addition, settings such as flipped
classroom or homework promoting active learning (Kommetter and Ebner 2019),
are not listed here. This should be taken into account in the further course of the
project.
Further possibility for extending the matrix is the inclusion of gamified elements in
teaching. Most of the time, teaching materials are not motivating for the students to
acquire. Therefore, taking a look at the computer game industry is a good choice as
it manages to keep people on their chairs for hours and days (Prensky 2003). The
gaming industry is also increasingly relying on AR and VR applications. Through
playful elements, such as rankings, where students get points for solving a problem
and duel with these points, the motivation of students can be increased, just as they
are motivated to play a game. Although playful learning is also possible without
any AR or VR elements, they set new standards here and offer students the
opportunity to focus completely on the teaching content. If it is possible to prepare
the teaching material in a game-based learning environment, the implementation
can be considered with the help of AR and VR.
Furthermore, students can either complete a simple task using an AR or VR
environment by supporting or improving their environment, or they can even have
an immersive learning experience when an application replaces their common
learning situation with AR or VR. Physical activity is associated with conceptual
understanding. AR systems can build such an interactive learning environment. AR
offers students a 3D view and constantly changing content through interaction,
which increases their interest in learning. The complexity of a task and level of
physical activity should therefore be considered in future research.
The presented evaluation of AR/VR -based lectures in the field of mining education
provides new insights into the effective use of such technologies in teaching. Thus,
the developed decision matrix summarizes important findings from the project and
should support teachers in dealing adequately with new trends. Nevertheless, there
is still a need for further research to take a holistic view of the topic. The studies on
the usability and acceptance of these technologies are an essential prerequisite for
the research of further (long-term) effects of AR/VR-based teaching.
Draft, originally published in: Daling, L., Kommetter, C., Abdelrazeq, A., Ebner, M. & Ebner, M. (2020) Mixed
Reality Books: Applying Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mining Engineering Education. In: Augmented
Reality in Education. Geroimenko, V. (Ed.). pp. 185-195. Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42156-4
9
Acknowledgements
This activity has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and
Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under the Horizon 2020, the EU
Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Further information about
MiReBooks: https://eitrawmaterials.eu/course/mirebooks-mixed-reality-
handbooks-for-mining-education/
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Asia, Suntec City, Singapore — June 15 - 18, 2004, p 230–236
... Overall, lecturers confirmed positive effects of MR in education [14]. However, there is still not a lot of empirical evidence within the field to confirm such expectations in general [8] [9]. ...
... The purpose of the project is to increase the attractiveness of mining engineering for students [3]. The researchers work on possibilities to transfer theoretical knowledge into practical work [14]. This is one of the major challenges within the mining sector [19] since blasting, loading of rubble onto trucks or visiting a mine in general lead to safety risks, logistical challenges, and further problems [14]. ...
... The researchers work on possibilities to transfer theoretical knowledge into practical work [14]. This is one of the major challenges within the mining sector [19] since blasting, loading of rubble onto trucks or visiting a mine in general lead to safety risks, logistical challenges, and further problems [14]. ...
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