Ambatovy is a nickel and cobalt mine situated 80km from the country’s capital, Antananarivo. The surface operation represents the biggest ever foreign investment in Madagascar and ranks as one of the largest nickel mines in the world.
Mason Blum, mine training superintendent at Ambatovy, said: “Most world class mines globally have added simulators to their training and development programmes and we can now add ourselves to that list. Investing in this technology will reduce the cost of training over time, especially when it comes to the fuel cost when training operators on the actual equipment.”
Blum also believes these simulators will entrench safety procedures. He added: “ThoroughTec is the industry leader in this field, with an excellent end-user interface, perfect for training in developing countries. They’re reliable and offer excellent customer support. They understand the customer’s business needs.”
Ambatovy has received two latest generation Cybermine training simulators along with a containerised six-degree-of-freedom motion base unit, all engineered and built to ThoroughTec’s exacting military standards. The easily interchangeable simulators have been designed to train operators of Caterpillar 777 haul trucks and 6020 excavators.
Interestingly, the material mined at Ambatovy has a high moisture content of 38% due to the high rainfall the area receives. This makes the mining process a challenging affair for the heavy equipment operators, and ThoroughTec’s simulators will accurately replicate these challenges to support and enhance the training of operators.
Blum explained: “Most of the orebody is top loaded, because the haul trucks cannot drive on the bottom surface.” This makes it difficult to manage safety and productivity effectively.
He added: “There’s a higher risk of vehicle-to-vehicle contact when top loading with both machines on the same level. With the simulator we can practice and hone this loading technique so as to ensure the risk is reduced to an absolute minimum.”
Justin Collins, CEO of ThoroughTec, commented: “With decades of experience supporting mine operator training throughout the developing world, our range of Cybermine products is uniquely tailored to support the development of a safety conscious, performance-oriented workforce, regardless of operator background or qualification.”
Blum added: “Human and community development is very important to our operation. With over 25 years of mining life here in Madagascar, sustainability, and skill development will ensure the future success of the business in the challenging world environment.”
Adam Smallman, VP of EMEA and Americas at ThoroughTec, said: “We believe that mining can give back and our products help operations achieve this. Besides our ability to support mining operations in remote locations, our quick development lead-times played a big part in us winning this order and I’m happy to report that we produced and delivered these simulators in impressive time. Designing and building hitherto un-developed simulators is what we do best. Whether you operate Cat, Komatsu, Hitachi or something else, we can build it all and we can do it faster and more accurately than anyone else.”
He noted: “These high-fidelity simulators will give Ambatovy’s operators a lot of practice and exposure to operations in a safe, controlled environment. Zero risk and very low cost. Rather let the operators learn from their mistakes in the simulator than on the actual machine, it’s much cheaper that way.”