MISC ramps-up simulated training

AS the Mining Industry Skills Centre prepares to launch the Australian Simulation Research Office this week, its pioneering game-based training simulator for the mining industry has even caught the attention of an insurance broker.

Blair Price

Released last year, Project Canary was developed in conjunction with simulation experts QinetiQ as a training tool to place individuals in a virtual world where they were confronted with realistic workplace scenarios in underground and surface mining.

Unlike other safety training simulators, Project Canary also uses multi-player scenarios, giving trainers the opportunity to see how workers apply their safety knowledge in a team environment.

MISC chief executive officer Derek Hunter told International Longwall News the feedback has been enormously positive with the tool seen as a major breakthrough in training for the mining industry.

“Simulation is moving very dramatically into changing the way training occurs,” Hunter said.

He added that Project Canary was also seen as entirely relevant to the whole question of risk and to the future of team training and supervisor training.

While the computer game nature of Project Canary sets it apart from other training tools, Hunter said the simulator would not stop someone making mistakes or reveal what the risks are.

“You have to actually identify them, the trainer knows what they are, it will allow you to treat them and make mistakes and it will assess you at the end,” he said.

Hunter said the aim was getting beyond just teaching the rules, for two reasons.

“Reason one is that there are not enough rules to cover all the contingencies of risk and that is well proven in any risk area.

“Two, effectively you can train someone in risk but that does not mean to say that their behaviour about risk will change and that’s the biggest issue that we are interested in.”

MISC has been on the road promoting Project Canary and, after recently visiting the Hunter Valley, will head to the Queensland’s Bowen Basin this week.

Hunter said MISC has presented the simulator to about 30 groups, including minesites, mining contract companies and registered training organisations.

He said MISC was in ongoing conversations with all of them.

While Project Canary does not take away the trainer or reduce training time, Hunter said the question was, over the long term, what would be the cost of injury and death onsite.

He referenced BHP Billiton’s recent problems in this regard as the miner has announced it will miss its iron ore production targets.

“Return on investment is long term but we just had a meeting with an insurance broker who requested to see this and they are interested in the question of potentially reducing insurance cost by using appropriate training methodologies, including approaches like Project Canary.

“As a broker they are required to identify the risk level of a minesite in relation to its insurance, so there are two areas of return on investment, that’s potentially one, and the other is the reduction in stoppages or deaths or injury and the costs associated with that.”

This Friday MISC will open the Australian Simulation Research Office with Central Queensland University at its Mackay Campus.

Hunter said the ASRO will help get information out to the mining companies and will also provide an advisory and consultancy service to companies using, or who wish to use, simulation.

He said the ASRO will also look into research especially in relation to the use of simulation and return on investment.

Of the partnership, Hunter said CQUniversity was not only centred in the Bowen Basin but also locked in to a number of major mining companies.

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