Northern Manitoba Mining Academy to Open in Spring 2011
A large resource extraction sector and the lack of academictraining options in the mining and explorationindustry were two of the main factors that moved a group of Manitoba-based institutions to work collaboratively to create the about-to-be-launched Northern Manitoba MiningAcademy (NMMA).
The new school, scheduled to start operations in springnext year, is a joint venture of HudBay Minerals Inc. — one ofthe largest miners in the province of Manitoba — the UniversityCollege of the North, Northern Manitoba Sector Council, the governments of Manitoba and Canada, the city of Flin Flon andthe University of Manitoba.
As Dr. Kathryn McNaughton, Vice-President Academic and Research at the University College of the North explains, the new institution’s mandate is to provide northern Manitoba residentswith access to mining-related training with the objective of creating a knowledgeable, skilled and sustainable workforce.
Although NMMA will offer an undergraduate degree only, McNaughton says it anticipates attracting between 25 and 50 students per year, both young adults without any experiencein mining and adult learners who would enrol to update their already extensive knowledge, based on their experience in there source and extraction field.
“Because NMMA will be based in the city of Flin Flon, site of an extensive and highly accessible ore body, we expect that there will be a significant amount of undergraduate and graduate field work, performed by several mining schools from North America,” says McNaughton. “We are looking forward to becoming a home away from home for those students who will be able to utilize our modern facilities.”
As part of its commitment to this initiative, HudBay is donating CAD$200,000 and approximately half an acre of land in aprime location for training purposes. The consortium is workingto ensure that initial staffing and programming will be in placefor the NMMA’s official opening, which is expected in the spring/summer semester of 2011.
“As one of northern Manitoba’s largest mining operators,we are very excited to be part of this initiative,” says DavidGarofalo, President and CEO of HudBay Minerals. “The newmining academy will implement strategic training initiatives andskills enhancement, which is important for developing the skills of new entrants to the labour force as well as allowing current workers to upgrade their abilities.”
NMMA will include geology and wet labs, video conferencing facilities and a mining and geosciences library. The school will also provide the first underground mining equipment simulators in the province. The goal is to provide graduates who will be of benefit to the region’s mining sector, which is hungry for highly skilled workers.
High Tech Simulators
For its training programs, NMMA already counts on two CYBERMINE simulators, supplied by ThoroughTec and acquired with funding provided under the Canada-Manitoba WesternEconomic Partnership Agreement.
The simulators include load haul dumpers (LHDs) and articulated dump trucks (ADTs), which are modelled on specific Sandvik and Atlas Copco underground mining equipment. These two systems will be stationed at Hudbay Minerals in Flin Flonand Vale Inco in Thompson. Each one will be delivered with customized virtual mine worlds that are based on the actual Hudbay and Vale Inco mine sites. The idea is to allow operatorsto train and get used to the underground mining environment in which they will be operating the actual equipment, without even venturing underground.
The complexity and cost of modern mechanized mining equipment calls for highly skilled operators that are required to consistently achieve high production targets while maintaining exceptionally high levels of safety. This requires continuous training and rejuvenation of the workforce.
“CYBERMINE simulators are perfectly suited to address this need and will assist the NMMA in achieving its mandate of providing relevant mine-related training to the mining community of Northern Manitoba,” says Chris Magistrale, Business Development Manager at ThoroughTec Simulation (Canada). “Using the simulator will ensure that students receive the best possible training and are well prepared for the mining environment,” he adds.
Dr. Kathryn McNaughton believes that the soon-to-be operative mining academy has been very fortunate to obtain, far before it opens its doors to students, the latest technology in automated underground mining equipment simulators. This sort of equipment has never before been available in the province.
From now until March 2011, the consortium will be focused on finishing the new facilities, attracting highly skilled academics with a strong background in geology and building the curriculum that will make this new mining school unique.
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