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Delivering a mine of the future while creating jobs

LEVELING UP The training management system being implemented at Venetia will host simulator training results, as well as store all electronic training records of every employee

TRAINING SHIFT Venetia’s training strategy has been revised, considering the paradigm shift to embrace new technologies as the mine transitions to automated mining

7th April 2023

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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The Venetia Underground Project (VUP) is vital to ensure that Venetia remains one of the largest diamond producers not only in diamond mining major De Beers’ global portfolio but also for the South African economy, and the hundreds of employees who will work for the mine into the future, says Venetia Mine underground production GM Kobus van den Berg.

The VUP will transform the Venetia openpit, in Limpopo, to an automated underground mining operation, extending the mine’s production to 2046. But this also includes a transformative aspect for people, which has been approached through several perspectives, including assessments, training and skills transfer.

“At our mine, we understand the importance of ensuring our workforce is equipped with the necessary skills to operate an automated mine. To achieve this, our training strategy had to be revised, considering the paradigm shift to embrace new technologies as the mine transitions to automated mining,” Van den Berg tells Mining Weekly.

The transition from openpit to underground has demanded a complete shift in mindset, as well as new skills, he elaborates.

The implementation of automation at the Venetia Underground Mine (VUG) will be phased in incrementally, starting with highly automated machines which still require an on-board operator.

“Next to be introduced will be autonomous machines which don’t require an on-board operator. These machines are equipped with automated machine navigation and tramming, and can perform – while stationary in one location – most sets of routine functions without operator input required during the cycle.”

Van den Berg adds that the final phase of implementation will see the introduction of full autonomous mining systems at VUG.

“Autonomous mining not only creates a safer and healthier environment for workers by removing them from potential high-risk areas but also, if implemented correctly, improves productivity, compared with traditional techniques, when measuring output against available operating time.”

In collaboration with simulator manufacturer Thoroughtec, a training management system is being implemented to provide various functions through dedicated servers.

“This includes more than 300 modules for self-paced learning – or e-learning – which will comprise learning related to mine safety, induction programmes, codes of practice, procedures and security. Additionally, a clicker system is also being implemented. This electronic assessment tool provides for facilitated training followed by assessments,” explains Van den Berg.

The training management system will host the results of simulator training, while its integration into the human resources information system will ensure the seamless updating of legal certificates such as inductions.

Other features of the system include electronic assessments using tablets to reduce paperwork, electronic signatures, employee scheduling for training, room scheduling, as well as keeping all electronic training records of every employee, including scanned historical hard files.

Virtual reality, which includes the construction of a virtual blast wall, is currently available. Features entail a psychomotor and CogniPlus assessment booths, a task management control room to simulate mining control rooms and a trackless mobile machine training mock-up area. The technology can simulate hazardous situations and emergency scenarios, and can be used to train employees on the proper response procedures.

Since the 1990s, Venetia has employed between 2 000 and 2 500 employees on average at its openpit operations. The development of the VUG and associated surface infrastructure over the past ten years has provided employment opportunities for more than 2 000 people.

“The socioeconomic development impact of the project in host communities is massive. The project continues to create around 2 000 jobs during the construction phase and most of these people have been sourced from local communities,” concludes Van den Berg.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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