Simulating excellence

Simulating excellence

College hopes technology makes it a go-to mine training centre

The Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) campus in Bathurst wants to be a one-stop shop for mine training programs.

And it’s received an infusion of cash from the provincial and federal governments to help it achieve that goal. In January of 2017 the two levels of government announced they were investing about $1.5 million in CCNB’s Bathurst campus to help it establish Atlantic Canada’s first specialized training centre for the mining and drilling sectors. The New Brunswick government contributed $1.3 million, Ottawa chipped in $185,000 and CCNB added $265,000 to the project.

Establishing a mining and drilling training centre in Bathurst makes sense. The northern New Brunswick town has long been a hotbed for mining. However, the Bathurst region’s mining sector has fallen on hard times in recent years. Xstrata’s Brunswick mine near the town closed after 50 years of operation in 2012. The only one currently in operation there is Trevali Mining Corp’s Caribou leadzinc- silver mine. “A mine training hub, that’s what we want to become,” says Alain Gauvin, head of development and continuing education for CCNB’s Bathurst campus.

You get a 360-degree view with real controls. It’s not just a joystick and a screen.
Alain Gauvin

The $1.5 million investment is helping CCNB Bathurst campus move towards that ambitious goal. The money was used to hire a manager for the centre and experts to develop program content and site management, as well as maintenance and site preparation costs. It also allowed the campus to buy six state-of-the-art heavy equipment simulators that train students to operate equipment like haul trucks, wheel loaders and dump trucks for both underground and surface mining. The simulators were bought from a South African company, ThoroughTec Simulation.

Gauvin says the simulators give students a realistic experience of operating these varied pieces of heavy equipment at an actual mine. “You get a 360-degree view with real controls. It’s not just a joystick and a screen,” Gauvin says. “We called a few operators to try the simulators and they told us it’s not real, but it’s close.”

The campus wants to develop programs and courses at the specialized centre in four areas: mining, equipment operation, health & safety and environment. There are currently 14 to 20-week mining programs, a 12-week surface diamond driller’s helper program, a sevenweek heavy equipment operator program as well as workplace health and safety and environmental safety training. The campus also offers an 80-week regular mining technology program that is separate from the specialized centre. The centre was officially opened in November of 2017.

Gauvin says the simulators are unique and can be stored in containers, so the training can be delivered in communities outside of the Bathurst campus. The CCNB is also interested in developing other programs so it can expand the training opportunities it offers. “There are all kinds of possibilities, and we want to match the needs of the [mining] companies.”

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