Quality training of mining staff is clearly essential in modern mining operations. There is always the dilemma of on the job training reducing production time as the trainees make mistakes which need rectification.

This is especially true for drill rig operators who are at a critical phase in the production cycle. Taking the drilling rig out of production for too long is very costly.

If the operator is not fully trained up then there is always the risk of poor positioning of the rig and the mast, errors made in changing the rods on the carousel and then the question of drilling at the correct angle and pressure to protect the rods and the drill bit.

The opportunity for downtime is huge if inexperienced drill rig operators are to be used and trained. In addition there is the complexity of differently manufactured drill rigs. Sandvik, Atlas Copco and CAT for example manufacture a variety of drill rig options and each one has its own features and complexities.

Drill rig simulators

However there is a solution to avoid the necessary down time for training and reducing the liklihood of operator error when in production – the blast-hole drill rig simulator. Using a simulator can reap huge benefits as experienced by Swakop Uranium miner Husab Mine, one of the biggest uranium mining projects in the world. Based in Namibia, they  recently took delivery of a simulator for a CAT MD-6640. The  project needs to train many novice operators for dozers, haul trucks, shovels and of course, blast-hole drill rigs.

Training manager at Swakop Uranium, Ferdy Schwartz commented:

“The company providing the simulator (Thoroughbred Technologies) got all the drill basics right along with accurately simulating the finer details such as percussion and drill length. New drill rig operators will be trained on the simulator for five weeks, in the field for five weeks and then back on the sim for five weeks. “There will also be annual refresher training to check that operators are adhering to the correct safety procedures.”

When choosing the correct simulator it is important to find a provider with a long history specifically in mining and importantly a simulator which can mirror a variety of conditions and situations. One such company with its origins in providing simulators for the military is Thoroughbred Technologies (Through Tec) based in Durban, South Africa.

ThoroughTec’s range of CYBERMINE mining simulators is one of the broadest in the industry, encompassing all aspects of both surface and underground mining operations for hard and soft rock and capable of replicating a mine’s entire working fleet from load and haul through to the most complex production and ancillary equipment.

Making mines safer, more productive and cost effective is at the top of the agenda and investing in a drill rig simulator is an option worth considering.