Historically, approximately half the incidents at our coal operations involve mobile equipment. In 2013, we implemented a mobile equipment simulator programme across our open-cut mining operations. The equipment simulators are shared between the business units to help our operators maintain the skills and competencies they need to effectively manage emergency situations when using mobile equipment.

The simulated environment allows us to test operators on specific equipment (track dozers, front end loaders, face shovels, excavators, dump trucks, graders and draglines) without using actual mobile equipment or exposing our people to unnecessary hazards.

The simulators are programmed to replicate emergency situations, including tyre fires, fires in engine bays, engine failure, loss of steering and loss of braking. We measure each operator’s reaction times against specific performance criteria, allowing us to assess training and development needs.

The training programme begins with a pre-assessment of hand-eye co-ordination to determine each potential candidate’s capabilities. Successful candidates go forward to learning the controls and their operation on a generalised simulator. Once they have demonstrated the appropriate knowledge, they are trained on a simulator for the specific equipment that they will use and be licensed for. This takes around 6 days, finishing with a test before on-site training begins.

Next, candidates begin practice on actual equipment on-site, under the guidance of an experienced operator. Once they have had a successful assessment, they are licensed to operate the equipment. Our alloys division makes extensive use of simulator training. Mopani, our copper asset in Zambia has also started using simulator training and Kazzinc in Kazakhstan has ordered simulators.