"If we do not take the initiative, legislators may impose an onerous and inefficient system,” said MMAA president John McKendry at the Association’s meeting last week.
“Mine managers have demonstrated a willingness to keep up with new technology and discover better ways to do things – it is a strength in our industry,” he said.
To cement this strength, McKendry proposed a structured system that demonstrated mine managers’ commitment to continued professional development as a means of maintaining statutory competency. McKendry said systems provided by other professional organizations were aligned with the career path of the professional, not necessarily the maintenance of competence for the qualification. The mine managers system focused on statutory competence and the application of that knowledge.
Professional development is defined as the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge, understanding and skills and the development of the personal qualities necessary to undertake ones duties throughout ones working life.
The system is concerned with the maintenance of competency, not competencies required for the NSW Coal Competence Board. Both Queensland and New South Wales are currently trying to resolve competencies for statutory officials.
The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) system the MMAA proposed covered underground and open cut mine managers, other statutory staff and non-coal managers.
“Mine operators have the responsibility of ensuring staff and employees are competent to perform work. Our goal is to assist operators by providing an auditable CPD system to demonstrate maintenance of competencies,” McKendry said.
To qualify as a statutory mine manager, candidates are required to have 3 years experience and complete an oral examination conducted by a panel of their peers, in addition to successful completion of a written examination.
“What is missing from the current system is the ongoing continuing professional development. The recent decision by managers to take up such a system corrects that deficiency,” he said.
Once the qualification is obtained, certified professional status is continued through participating in the CPD process, including committing to the code of conduct, completing certain amount of hours in various fields and participating in technical sessions.
The code of conduct outlines the person will not perform work unless competent and will carry out CPD necessary to ensure competence in the future.
The underground CPD hours system states to be certified, over a three year period a manager must undertake nine hours each of mining systems, ground control and major hazards development, as well as three hours each of risk management, emergency response and legislation. Additionally, nine hours of any or all of the areas mentioned is required.
The mining systems category covers mining methods, production equipment, transport, mining services and fixed plant and infrastructure; ground control looks at strata control, pillar stability/design, subsidence and inrush; and major hazards covers ventilation, gas management, outburst management and spontaneous combustion.
MMAA members have endorsed the scheme and implementation will commence January 2004.