The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has contributed $1 million to help NORCAT purchase a 360-degree mining equipment training simulator.
The mobile simulator will be the centrepiece of the centre's new mining simulation training centre.
“We saw a great opportunity to create this centre for simulation training to bundle with the existing in- person, online programs and services that NORCAT offers,” said Don Duval, NORCAT's CEO. “This is part of our quest to become a world-leading centre for training and development.”
NORCAT has collaborated with Vale, Glencore's Sudbury operations and KGHM to acquire the mining equipment training simulator.
The mobile unit, which looks like a large pod, is outfitted with a kiosk control panel that replicates those found on real pieces of mining equipment, such as scoop trams. The user is surrounded by high- efinition screens and the entire pod vibrates to simulate movement.
“It simulates as though you're actually driving that piece of equipment,” Duval said. Because the simulator is mobile, Duval said they will be able to transport it to mining jurisdictions from Thunder Bay to Sudbury, and everywhere in between. “It's just not feasible for each mining company to procure one of these,” he said.
Companies such as Vale and Glencore will be able to book time for their employees to train within the unit without having to repurpose existing equipment for the task.
“This brings NORCAT to a whole new level of excellence to serve the Canadian mining industry by ensuring workers are effectively trained to work as safely as possible,” said Kelly Strong, vice- president of Vale's Ontario operations, in a press release.
Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, who announced the government funding, said the new mining equipment simulator will further Northern Ontario's reputation as a global leader in mining innovation.
“Our contribution to this initiative closely aligns to the Ontario government’s strategy to support the life-long training and development of skilled workers in the province,” Bartolucci said in a press release.
“NORCAT, which also serves as Sudbury’s Regional Innovation Centre, is a natural fit for this initiative as it encompasses training and development, innovation, and technology.”
Duval said the mining equipment simulator should be ready by the summer of 2014.
It can accommodate a number of different modules to simulate different pieces of equipment. Duval said NORCAT will need to discuss with its corporate partners which modules they should purchase.