Tag Archives: mine training

Murray & Roberts Cementation adds trackless mining machinery to training options

Murray & Roberts Cementation has further enhanced its training facilities in South Africa to develop scarce skills in modern underground mining.

The well-known Murray & Roberts Training Academy (MRTA) at Bentley Park near Carletonville, in Gauteng, now boasts a specialised Engineering Training Centre for trackless mining machinery (TMM).

According to Tony Pretorius, Education, Training and Development (ETD) Executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation, the centre will raise skills levels among operators, service staff, artisans and apprentices.

“As mining becomes more mechanised locally, it is vital that the mining sector keeps up with the technical demands to maintain and repair advanced underground machinery,” Pretorius said. “There are simply not enough suitably trained and experienced artisans to keep the growing number of TMMs well maintained and fully operational.”

He highlights that there is considerable value in upskilling TMM operators to better understand and correctly operate their machines, for instance. This could take some of the pressure off artisans while also ensuring more uptime between equipment servicing.

“Mines aim to raise productivity levels with mechanised mining machinery, and this comes with greater technical demands on mine production and support staff,” he says. “This training will equip artisans with specific skills in mechanised engineering, which are not currently part of the syllabus for conventional trades.”

The centre – which was constructed during the national COVID-19 lockdown at a cost of R1.8 million ($109,074) – includes a workshop, wash bay and refuelling bay with all the necessary tools and infrastructure. It offers training suitable for people undergoing a trade or having completed a trade, introducing them into the wider mechanised mining equipment engineering space, according to the company.

Pretorius notes that many people remain unemployed after completing their trades at an accredited trade centre; this new centre enhances their employability while filling an important need in the mining industry’s technology trajectory.

“Here at Bentley Park, we have workplace approval with the Mining Qualifications Authority, authorising us to offer practical training to those undergoing trade training who need workplace experience,” he says. “Our mechanised mining equipment engineering centre can address the workplace learning element of their trade certificate – phase two and phase four of their training.”

The focus is on underground mechanised equipment such as load haul dumpers (LHDs), roof bolters, drill rigs and utility vehicles. The training incorporates the MRTA’s leading-edge blended training methodologies including e-learning, virtual reality, simulation and workshop practical hands-on training.

“This gives our learners the knowledge, understanding and skills required in mechanised mining equipment engineering,” he says. “In addition to our own employees, we also provide training for the mining sector broadly, and can customise training for mining companies.”

The centre has already enrolled 19 apprentices in the mechanised mining equipment engineering training, and expects considerable interest from the mining industry as a whole. The MRTA is also working closely with the Mining Qualifications Authority to make the training available to qualified work-seekers.

eLearning on the up in South Africa mining sector, New Leaf Technologies says

A Johannesburg-headquartered learning software and solutions company that specialises in the mining sector has seen growing momentum among large miners in South Africa to move away from traditional facilitator-led, ‘classroom’-style training in favour of eLearning programs that reduce costs and increase productivity.

This evolution is coming at the same time as the country’s mining industry is facing pressure to cut costs, increase productivity and remain viable, “let alone operate profitably”, Mike Hanley, Managing Director of New Leaf Technologies, the company in question, says.

Figures for the country’s production released last week by Statistics South Africa paint a grim picture of the local mining industry, New Leaf said.

Production output for the June quarter shrank by 73.1%, the third most affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, after construction at 76.6% and manufacturing at 74.91%. This was already coming off a relatively low base – six months ago, Statistics South Africa released data on the performance of mining for 2019, showing that production was 1.3% lower than the year before.

These pressures are one of the reasons for the upturn in demand for eLearning programs, which can reduce costs and increase productivity, according to the company.

One of South Africa’s largest and foremost black-empowered resource companies, and a leading coal producer, recently signed up as an eLearning client. The world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation, and an independent global organisation of engineers and scientists consulting to the natural-resource industries, have also gone down the eLearning route.

“Cost savings are a major benefit for mining companies embarking on eLearning for their employees, as it does away with having to fly in, accommodate and pay a daily rate for training facilitators, eliminates the need for other non-essential training personnel, and reduces the amount of off-the-job time employees need for training,” New Leaf says. “For companies with several operations scattered around the country (or the continent, or even the world), ongoing consistency is ensured, with entire workforces trained using the same content at the same level.”

The training content, which can be designed and sent out through a central point, is “entertaining and captivating”, which leaves a memorable impression on the employee, according to New Leaf. “And eLearning systems have also helped mining companies to streamline their types of training and address skills gaps: eLearning is a great way of tracking employee training progress, as well as their experiences of what’s been taught, which in turn means that gaps can be quickly and efficiently addressed,” it said.

Hanly noted: “While mining is a highly mechanical process, it’s also been heavily impacted by global digitisation.”

New, sophisticated technology is transforming mining operations, which means that existing skill sets are continually needing to advance, with drill operators, blast hole engineers, etc being affected.

“For South Africa’s mining labour force to remain competitive internationally, the industry has to address these needs,” New Leaf said.

An additional complication is that only 14% of miners have a “post-matric qualification”, according to data released by the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) in South Africa. The education level among the 460,000 employed in the sector is also compromising its ability to mine more efficiently, compared with other key markets like Australia, Brazil, Canada and Chile, New Leaf claims. The MQA’s sector skills plan, released in 2018, revealed skills shortages and experience exist too, including those of mining managers, mining planners, and mining and rock engineers.

“The quality of courseware and how it’s shared through eLearning can address many of these skills gaps, and retain staff rather than lose them,” Hanly says.

New Leaf’s courseware is adapted to address specific challenges, with the imperative being on the eLearning provider to ensure the material is captivating and engaging, as well as meeting the educational needs of employees from a variety of demographics.

“Instructional design is important as a means of holding trainees’ attention while explaining sometimes difficult concepts,” Hanly says.

For this reason, the course material is normally multimedia in nature, combining words and graphics, ensuring it is engaging, memorable and stimulating. A combination of 3D modelling and animation, along with virtual reality and augmented reality material, is being increasingly integrated with course content.

Hanly added: “Courseware needs to grab attention, but also must be aligned with the company’s needs. It must stimulate prior knowledge and build on current skills levels. It needs to present information in a storytelling format, which may often involve gamification and interactive video. And it should be guiding in nature too, providing support to learners who may grapple with difficult concepts. To break the monotony, allowing learners to provide feedback is also a great way to retain their interest, and measure effectiveness.”

The courseware, which can be designed and scaled according to a company’s needs, can also be updated on an internet-based Learning Management System (LMS) licensed to a mining company and accessed by employees anywhere in the world, or an LMS system can be set up on a company’s premises and accessed remotely, provided the employee has a reasonable internet connection.

Hanly concluded: “We believe it’s only a matter of time before mining in South Africa becomes a champion for eLearning progression in this country.”

Zeppelin and Immersive Technologies partner on Navoi Cat truck training program

Zeppelin International, one of the largest Caterpillar dealers in Europe and the CIS region, has partnered with Immersive Technologies to provide comprehensive training for both “green” and experienced personnel operating a range of Caterpillar truck models within Navoi Mining & Metallurgical Combine’s (NMMC) gold mining sites in Uzbekistan.

This marks the 45th country globally to use Immersive Technologies’ workforce optimisation training solutions, the Komatsu-owned company said.

“Simulator-based training establishes a safe environment for experienced operators to expand their expertise, and a risk-free arena for entry level operators to start developing their skills,” Immersive Technology said.

Zeppelin International has also acquired Immersive Technologies Custom Mine Site (CMS) technology to further train those unacquainted with the new machinery in a familiar training environment. The program will aid in increasing workforce optimisation in the areas of production efficiency and operational safety, while ensuring operators are confident and highly productive when they enter actual site operations, Immersive said.

“CMS allows detailed focus to be placed on training requirements specific to each site such as landmarks, specific mine site road rules and environmental conditions,” the company said. “Curriculum tailoring to target specific learning outcomes is managed effortlessly with the support of Immersive Technologies Professional Services, delivered on site via specialist training experts.”

Stanislav Kondratenko, Technical Director of Zeppelin Central Asia Machinery LLC, said: “At Zeppelin, we have high expectations from Immersive Technologies based on previous results and experiences. They have successfully completed the installation development and will be providing professional services to increase production efficiency and overall safety for the mine site. Utilising this technology and targeted curriculum will aid in increasing output from Navoi’s current headcount.”

Oleg Lyutyy, Business Development Advisor at Immersive Technologies, said: “Immersive has been developing and delivering training solutions for Caterpillar equipment for over 27 years. Our IM360 Simulator and Conversion Kits® for CAT® truck models, will provide the ultimate simulation for Zeppelin and the Navoi mine site to optimise production output and safety. This is yet another example of the successful collaboration between Immersive Technologies and OEM dealers around the world.”

Zeppelin has also acquired the TrainerAdvantage™ certification program that includes classroom and hands-on sessions working with the simulator under the instruction of an Immersive Technologies Certified Instructor.

Immersive’s Regional Vice President of EMEA & CIS, Johan Stemmet, said: “Innovation is the future. Production optimisation is unthinkable without innovative technologies. I look forward to seeing how the introduction of this level of training increases productivity and safety for Zeppelin International and Navoi NMMC.”

PYBAR addressing training needs in underground mining sector

PYBAR says it has gained approval from the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) for its Registered Training Organisation (RTO), the Australian Institute of Mining (AIM).

AIM was established by PYBAR to address the need for quality, nationally recognised training for the underground mining sector.

AIM will facilitate Certificate II and III in Underground Metalliferous Mining programs as well as numerous short courses, providing significant opportunities for employees, and assisting PYBAR in achieving its goal of offering nationally recognised training for its workforce, the company said.

In addition to the RTO approval, AIM has gained approval from the New South Wales Resources Regulator to offer the one-day ‘Learning from disasters’ course which will be rolled out across NSW from January 2020.

The course, developed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, is designed for mine managers and supervisors, ensuring lessons from past mining disasters are learnt.

As part of the RTO application process, PYBAR conducted a complete review of existing training and assessment packages offered by its Safety, Health, Environment & Training (SHET) team and recommended updates to ensure these packages met the national framework requirements, it said.

In addition, PYBAR consulted with state governments and held discussions with the Tasmanian Government to reduce barriers to traineeships in the underground metalliferous mining sector, according to the company.

As a result, 52 workers from the Henty gold mine, in Tasmania (owned by Diversified Minerals, an associated company of PYBAR Mining Services), are already enrolled in the Certificate III program in Underground Metalliferous Mining.

PYBAR CEO, Brendan Rouse, said: “This approval is a significant step in enabling PYBAR to develop its workforce in line with national standards. It will also ensure that we are able to offer training that is current, relevant, and applicable immediately in the workplace across the full range of roles.”

He added: “The establishment of the Australian Institute of Mining forms part of our commitment to the long-term sustainability of our business, supported by our ability to offer ongoing professional development opportunities for our employees.”

PYBAR SHET Manager, Robert Paterson, said the company’s ability to offer a wide range of training, including the Certificate II and III programs, supported the development of its workforce as well as the regions in which we operate.”

Nunavut Government tables Mine Training Centre plan

Following a mid-term retreat in Arviat, Nunavut, last week, the territory’s cabinet has said it plans to establish a Nunavut Mine Training Centre in Rankin Inlet, with engagement from industry partners in the region.

Such a centre would come on top of the territory’s trades training centre, called Sanatuliqsarvik, which offers courses on maintenance operations and underground mining.

In the past decade or so as devolution has neared, Nunavut has risen in the mining investment rankings as the government has looked to attract more miners with exploration incentive schemes and, recently, government-funded infrastructure plans.

Only recently, the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) pledged investment towards the first phase of construction of the Grays Bay Road and Port project, which would support mineral development in the Nunavut portion of the Slave Geological Province where base and precious metal deposits are thought to lie.

Such moves have seen the likes of Agnico Eagle Mines (Meadowbank, Meliadine (pictured) and Amaruq), Baffinland Iron Mines (Mary River), MMG (Izok), Sabina Gold & Silver (Back River) and TMAC Resources (Hope Bay) retain and build on their strategic positions in this northerly part of Canada.

The proposed training centre from the government would potentially see more local First Nations take part in the future of these operations.

Reflecting on the mid-term retreat, Nunavut Premier, Joe Savikataaq, said: “We are a united Executive Council, with clear goals and strong ideas for Nunavut. We are now close to halfway through our mandate, and we remain committed to accountability and ensuring the Government of Nunavut achieves the goals of our mandate.

“After a productive two days, we have specific direction to move forward and accomplish our work to benefit all Nunavummiut.”

Ontario Government backs NORCAT above-ground expansion

The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) is to receive more than C$1.1 million ($833,117) from the Ontario Government to upgrade underground infrastructure and construct a permanent, above-ground building at its NORCAT Underground Centre.

The announcement was made yesterday by Vic Fedeli (pictured), Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, on behalf of Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, when visiting the facility in the province.

This latest pledge brings Ontario’s investment in the project to more than $1.65 million, according to the government. It comes on top of the C$1.4 million FedNor agreed to invest in the new 12,000 sq.ft (1,115 sq.m) above-ground facility and underground upgrade. The City of Greater Sudbury has also agreed to invest C$300,000 in the project, according to NORCAT.

The NORCAT Underground Centre, in Onaping, Ontario, enables companies of all sizes to develop, test and showcase innovative and emerging technologies in an operating mine environment. It also serves as a hands-on training and skills development centre, ensuring mine workers are up-to-date on the most modern equipment and processes.

The above-ground structure will provide office, meeting and workshop space, which is key to attracting and retaining international mining companies who will use the services or expand their operations at the centre, the government said. Upgrading underground infrastructure will provide companies with access to cutting-edge technology and create new training and education opportunities.

“With our government’s support, we are making it possible for mining companies to develop new technologies, invest and create good jobs in the North,” Minister Fedeli said. “We are keen to show the world that Ontario and its mining sector are open for business and open for jobs – and that also means being open for research and training.”

Canada Government backs plans for new NORCAT surface facility

The Government of Canada, through FedNor, has agreed to invest C$1.4 million ($1.07 million) in a new “state-of-the art surface facility” at NORCAT’s Underground Centre in northern Ontario.

The government said this facility will provide innovative mining businesses and entrepreneurs in northern Ontario with “a new space to share ideas, build partnerships, conduct research, and bring new technologies to market”.

NORCAT’s Underground Centre already provides companies with a place to innovate and enhance the productivity, safety and competitiveness of the mining industry. The company, earlier this year, announced plans to expand the centre in response to the forecasted demand of the global innovation ecosystem.

This new facility will further bolster its industry offering.

“The new 12,000 sq.ft (1,115 sq.m) facility will be used by innovative mining technology companies to develop, test and demonstrate innovative and emerging technologies in an operating mine environment,” the government said. “It will offer shared spaces, offices, meeting rooms, on-site personal protective equipment, first aid rooms, workshop, lunch room, changing rooms, showers and personal storage amenities.”

The announcement was made today by Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Minister responsible for FedNor.

Lefebvre said: “Supporting Canadian innovation is a key priority of our government, which is why we made it a pillar of our Innovation and Skills Plan and Prosperity and Growth Strategy for northern Ontario. This strategic investment in NORCAT will help shape the future of innovation and technology in the mining industry, and further strengthen Canada’s reputation as a global leader in mining.”

Don Duval, CEO of NORCAT (pictured), said: “A longstanding supporter and partner, the Government of Canada continues to recognize the value of NORCAT and the work we do to spur innovation, support skills training and help businesses develop and adopt new technologies and processes.

“As northern Ontario’s largest innovation centre, we are thrilled to add this new above-ground facility to our Underground Centre that will help cement our reputation as a global destination for mining research and innovation.”

NORCAT is focused on developing and providing world-class programs, services, and resources to reduce injuries, save lives, and enhance productivity in the mining industry and beyond, the government said. In addition, it is the only non-profit regional innovation centre in the world that has an operating mine designed to enable start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, and international companies to develop, test, and showcase new and innovative technologies in an operating mine environment.

CFPBJ bolsters training program with mining equipment simulator

The Centre de formation professionnelle de la Baie-James (CFPBJ), in Quebec, Canada, says it has inaugurated a new mining equipment simulator as it looks to improve training facilities for its students.

The acquisition of this tool for mining sector training was made possible through initial funding for CFPBJ’s ore extraction study program, it said. In addition, the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur provided C$310,000 ($229,065) and the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail granted C$476,000 under the Programme partenarial pour la formation et l’innovation to purchase equipment for the program to train students in operating heavy machinery on forest roads.

The CFPBJ said: “This new state-of-the-art tool will reaffirm the CFPBJ’s position as an academic leader in specialised vocational training. Spending more hours operating equipment will greatly enhance the skills of students in programs devoted to ore extraction and heavy equipment operation on forest roads.”

Sonia Caron, Director of Services and Centre, said the centre was committed to continuously improving its training programs by ensuring they are as realistic and dynamic as possible. “Virtual reality in vocational training allows students to consolidate their learning and reach a level of development that will greatly accelerate their entry into the workforce.”

The simulator purchase will make it easier to learn how to handle heavy equipment on forest roads and operate underground mining equipment. It will also enable customised training for surface mines, the CFPBJ said.

“Multisensory simulation will allow students to test reality without the dangers of a real field operation. Students will be able to practice in all types of conditions, including unforeseen situations: punctures, mechanical breakdowns, fires, etc. In addition, complementary equipment will allow for real-time data analysis, and the simulation modules can be customised to reproduce the actual physical environment of partner mine sites,” the centre said.

Safety is also at the heart of the CFPBJ’s concerns, with Caron saying: “This simulator enhances skills needed to work safely and use the machines efficiently. The risk of accidents is considerably reduced because students have many hours of driving experience before they operate the machinery.”

The CFPBJ has been operating in the James Bay region of Quebec since 1998 offering a wide range of study programs in several industries, including mining, forestry, construction, health and administration.

RCT helps train up Northern Star and Gold Fields apprentices

RCT says it is working with Gold Fields and Northern Star Resources to provide hands-on training opportunities to apprentices in Western Australia’s Goldfields.

This month, RCT’s Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, branch hosted Gold Fields apprentice Auto Electrician, Michael Schoeppner (pictured on the right), who carried out repair and maintenance work on remotely-operated mining equipment under the guidance of RCT’s experienced workshop staff.

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said: “Gold Fields is committed to team development, and we are delighted our apprentices have the opportunity to work with our business partners to receive valuable training, mentoring and experience.”

Following his training experience, Schoeppner will be able to apply his new skills to benefit Gold Fields’ projects in the region, where there is a continued emphasis on the use of remote technologies to improve safety and productivity in its mines, RCT said.

RCT also has a similar arrangement with Northern Star Resources, which saw apprentice Ben Ashby mentored by the company’s bench repair technicians at the Kalgoorlie branch earlier this month.

Ashby’s experience centred on unit repairs and diagnosis with particular focus on repairing remote interfaces and elements of RCT’s ControlMaster® Teleremote and Guidance products.

Northern Star Resources Maintenance Manager, Aaron Armstrong, said: “RCT has a wealth of in-house skills related to mobile plant equipment and electrical systems in the mining sector and we are happy they will share their knowledge with our tradespeople.”

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “These training opportunities enable staff from both companies to familiarise themselves with each other’s procedures and technical knowledge providing a strong base for future working relationships.”

ROI dictating technology investment decisions, Immersive Technologies says

Quantifiable return on investment (ROI) is the top factor impacting mining customer experience and technology investment decisions, according to a recent Immersive Technologies survey.

The simulator specialist surveyed over 100 senior mining professionals across Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, North America and South America to determine which variables drive a positive experience for miners in the introduction of new technologies. These findings coincide with the release of a new Real Results catalogue (RRC) showing in-depth details demonstrating the company’s training approach.

Bryant Mullaney, VP of Managed Services and Consulting at Immersive, said: “The analysis shows us that quantified ROI is a critical aspect impacting not only original purchase decisions, but long-term satisfaction. These findings highlight the need for suppliers to focus in on what the mining customer really wants, which is long term ROI.”

The research suggested that buyer due diligence is becoming increasingly important.

“In a world where any supplier can make claims of ROI it becomes even more critical that buyers ask for submissions of proof or road test suppliers in a limited capacity before making a larger commitment,” Immersive said. “Failure to properly assess supplier claims can result in missed expectations and a high level of project risk.”

The Immersive Technologies RRC documents customers challenges that led them to seek simulation-based training solutions, solutions they used to address their specific challenge and results they reported with in-field data sources.

Almost in response to these survey results, Immersive provided examples where simulator training programmes had alleviated previous issues at mine sites.

In terms of improving reliability and cost control, the company referred to an example from a US mine that needed to improve machine availability and reduce unscheduled downtime.

It was found abusive shifts, body-ups, over speeds, brake temperatures and overloading were causing the majority of premature failures in this example. A targeted training programme identified, isolated and removed risks to machine health, according to Immersive, reducing abusive shifts by 61% and cutting body up and brake temperatures by 53% and 75%, respectively.

And, when it came to results in cost per tonne, a recent experience from a Mexico mine where a customer was looking for tools to reduce unscheduled maintenance and machine damage costs by operators, the company’s simulators also came to the rescue.

The project initially focused on experienced underground LHD operators, with the mine site steering committee setting goals to reduce maintenance costs and increase productivity.

“After the training was delivered in the simulator, trainers spent time in the field to confirm and reinforce the best practices learned on the simulator,” Immersive said. “Analysis of simulator results against real world data at the end of the three-month period showed dramatic improvements were achieved,” adding that upon completion of the project, the training initiative decreased the site’s cost per tonne by 7.53%.

Mullaney said: “We know sharing these results can be a helpful tool to other sites who face similar challenges and are looking for solutions to address them. We are the only mining operator workforce development provider who can back up our claim with an extensive catalogue of real result case studies spanning the last 10 years.”