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Assmang Black Rock mine: improving safety with simulation

South Africa – The Assmang Black Rock mine, which produces manganese in the South Africa’s Northern Cape province is expanding its training simulation capacity to increase safety and productivity levels.

Black Rock’s training team recently completed factory acceptance testing of their new CYBERMINE simulator for an Atlas Copco 235-H bolter at global training simulator provider ThoroughTec Simulation.

“We have a big need for operators that know how to use this bolter safely and efficiently,” says Gideon Hayward, HRD Manager at Black Rock Mine Operations. “Operators of the 235 need to know how to support the hanging walls correctly to prevent potentially fatal rock falls.” Black Rock has seen a reduction in Lost Time Injuries (LTI) since moving over to the advanced 235-H bolter, of which they have around 20 in their fleet across their Gloria and Nchwaning 2 and 3 mines.

Black Rock ThoroughTec CYBERMINE Atlas Copco 235-H Bolter Simulator 1
The Assmang Black Rock mine is expanding its training simulation capacity to increase safety and productivity levels

Now they want to use their latest CYBERMINE high fidelity simulator to improve upon these safety and efficiency levels in a cost effective way. Black Rock now boasts five CYBERMINE simulators across a range of underground equipment, including complex drill rigs, scalers, ADTs and LHDs.

Safer, more advanced equipment is only as good as the operator. “We need to ensure that our operators follow correct operating procedures when handling the equipment and by using the simulator we are able to achieve that,” says Hayward.

The simulator will monitor functions such as colliding the boom with the face, drilling without flushing, inserting the incorrect amount of resin and score the operator on their performance.

“It costs nothing to damage the machine during a simulation exercise,” says Willie Koekemoer, Black Rock’s Training Facilitator. “It’s a cheaper environment to make mistakes.” For example, damage to certain components on the bolter can cost tens of thousands of rands a day and it also means the bolter is taken out of operation.

“We obviously want to prevent this from happening, so we’ll use the simulator to show the operators where they’re going wrong without using an actual bolter and it’s in a safe environment,” says Koekemoer.

New bolter operators at Black Rock will be required to use the simulator extensively before going underground. “There will also be annual refresher training for every operator,” says Hayward.

ThoroughTec’s CYBERMINE simulator system is now in its fourth generation. Every mining simulator features a simulated cab, a highly realistic replica of the actual mining equipment, with fully functional simulated instruments and controls.

The replicated cab is mounted on a motion platform capable of imparting up to six degrees of freedom and is surrounded by a full 360° panoramic, high-resolution projection display system with surround sound audio. Control of all aspects of training and evaluation is exercised in real time from an advanced instructor station.

ThoroughTec is able to simulate any machine from any mining OEM, surface or underground, and has the widest range of simulator cabs in the industry.

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