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Training and lifelong learning of mining industry professionals over the value chain of critical raw materials has been recognised worldwide as a challenge for the development of a strong raw materials mining sector. Nevertheless, the number of available mining sites for continuous practical education is limited, while also the specifications for practical training are not clearly defined. As part of the ongoing MINETRAIN research project, a stakeholders' survey has been launched to determine the type of trainees and their needs for practical training. The results are used to develop an on-site multidisciplinary course at the Pyhäsalmi underground mine, in Finland.
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1
LIFELONG PRACTICAL TRAINING FOR MINING INDUSTRY
PROFESSIONALS: WHAT DO THE STAKEHOLDERS WANT?
Marcos de Paiva Bueno, University of Oulu, Finland
George Barakos, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany
Kirsi Luolavirta, University of Oulu, Finland
Pablo Santur, University of Oulu, Finland
Saija Luukkanen, University of Oulu, Finland
Helmut Mischo, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany
Abstract
Training and lifelong learning of mining industry
professionals over the value chain of critical raw materials
has been recognised worldwide as a challenge for the
development of a strong raw materials mining sector.
Nevertheless, the number of available mining sites for
continuous practical education is limited, while also the
specifications for practical training are not clearly
defined.
As part of the ongoing MINETRAIN research
project, a stakeholders’ survey has been launched to
determine the type of trainees and their needs for practical
training. The results are used to develop an on-site
multidisciplinary course at the Pyhäsalmi underground
mine, in Finland.
Introduction
In an extremely competitive mining industry, onsite
experience is a big advantage. Mining education at the
universities all over the world is mostly focused on
theoretical studies and laboratory-scale experiments
without a possibility of practical training in mine sites,
while continuous lifelong learning and direct training in
real mining conditions on actual mines or processing
plants is limited to none (Barakos et al, 2019; Mischo,
2015).
Indirect practical training could be an alternative with
the use of virtual and augmented reality (= mixed reality)
-in the context of Mining 4.0- that can provide additional
experience to the training process. Nevertheless, the
limitations of mixed reality due to providing only a visual
impression and not a proper pragmatic view of operations
will most probably result to a poor performance of mine
workers and other related professionals in the future.
On the other hand, there is a dire need for skills and
knowledge development with relation to the mineral raw
materials industry. Decreasing head grades and higher
mineralogical complexity of ores have often been
mentioned as general challenges which require capacity-
building in education and intensified practical training
(Cilliers et al., 2013). Thus, the demand for increased
lifelong learning and direct practical training for mining
industry related professionals over the entire value chain
of raw materials has been recognised by several countries
with an active and/or expanding mining industry as a
critical challenge for the development of a strong raw
materials sector.
As aforementioned however, another major challenge
for educating specialists in the mining sector is that
training sites suitable for practical education, where the
skills and know-how could be developed and enhanced
are rare worldwide. There are underground facilities and
test mines mostly used for research purposes and for
testing new mining equipment (Barakos et al, 2019). Yet,
when it comes to facilities that combine research,
education and training of mining engineering students and
of mining industry related professionals, there are only a
handful of such mine sites around the world.
Such a training mine site is the Edgar Mine at Idaho
Springs in Colorado, U.S. (Edgar Experimental Mine,
2019) that belongs to and is run by the Colorado School
of Mines (CSM), the Orphan Boy Mine in Montana that is
nowadays called Underground Mine Education Center
(UMEC) and belongs to Montana Tech (Knudsen and
Rosenthal, 2018) and the FLB (Forschungs- und
Lehrbergwerk: Research & Educational Mine) also
known as Reiche Zeche that is located in Freiberg,
Germany and belongs to the Technical University
Bergakademie Freiberg (Mischo, 2015).
There are further mine sites that are under
construction and/or adjustment operations in order to
become research, educational and training facilities as
well. Rammelsberg is one example; a former silver,
copper, and lead mine at Goslar in the North German state
of Lower Saxony that now belongs to the Clausthal
University of Technology (Binder et al, 2018). Other
potential training mines are the RAG Aktiengesellschaft
at Recklinghausen, Germany, the research site at
Montanuniversität Leoben, in Austria and the Pyhäsalmi
polymetallic underground mine in Finland that is
discussed more in detail hereinafter.
2
The MINETRAIN Project
Pyhäsalmi is one of the oldest active underground
mines in Europe and the deepest as well at the time of
writing this paper (approx. at 1,450m). The mine is
located at Pyhäjärvi, in Central Finland and produces
copper, zinc and pyrite. Operations started in 1962 and
Pyhäsalmi was initially developed as an open pit mine
until 1967, when underground mining operations
commenced (Sahala, 2016). In 1975 surface mining ended
and since then a network of hundreds of kilometers of
tunnels have been excavated in the granite rock bed down
to the depth of 1,441 m (Barakos et al., 2019).
However, after 57 years of continuous production
mining operations are expected to come to an end in late-
2020 (FQM, 2018). Consequently, discussions for the
closure and post-mining utilization of the underground
facilities have started a long time ago (Peltoniemi, 2002).
For this reason, Callio Lab was founded in 2015 by the
municipality of Pyhäsarvi and Pyhäsalmi Mine Oy being
an umbrella organization for a variety of non-mining
activities in and around the mine (Jalas et al, 2017; 2018).
Such activities include scientific research and
development that will contribute towards the sustainable
development and viable use of the mine site. In fact, some
research activity is taking place already inside the mine,
parallel to mining operations (Barakos et al., 2019).
Besides R&D, Pyhäsalmi can host educational and
training activities as well. Given the big amount of spaces
that will be available after the ceasing of mining
operations, the infrastructure and the state-of-the-art
equipment that will not be used anymore, Pyhäsalmi
could also turn into an excellent educational and training
center.
Hence, a project named MINETRAIN initiated in
2018 for the development of an advanced level training
program for mining industry professionals (Barakos et al.,
2019). The project is under the auspices of the European
Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of
the European Union under the Horizon 2020, the EU
Framework Program for Research & Innovation.
MINETRAIN aims to update and increase the
knowledge and expertise of mining industry professionals
on various areas in the mining and mineral processing
industry. This can be accomplished through developing,
piloting and establishing a framework for commercially
feasible training projects for mining professionals by
holding multidisciplinary, practical, lifelong learning
educational courses at the Pyhäsalmi mine. The novelty of
this education is that it will provide learners with a
holistic view of the whole mine lifecycle and the entire
raw materials value chain, as well as opportunities to test
both skills and mining equipment in a real deep mine site.
Nevertheless, for the successful development and
implementation of such training programs some
educational, technical and organizational specifications
had to be determined:
The context and structure of training courses
The type of participants in the training courses
Duration, cost, and other organizational issues
For this reason and in the context of developing and
testing the initial training module of the MINETRAIN
project at the Pyhäsalmi mine, a stakeholders’ survey was
prepared and launched in order to identify the current
trends and demands of potential trainees and other
stakeholders of the mining industry. The structural details
and the preliminary results of this survey are presented
hereinafter.
Stakeholders’ Survey for MINETRAIN
Purpose
As already mentioned, the purpose of the stakeholder
analysis is to conduct a mapping of relevant stakeholders
and survey their needs. This knowledge is being used for
feeding into the MINETRAIN project for planning in
terms of:
Online and on-site course organization
Development of course contents and structure
Promotional activities of courses and of the overall
project (dissemination)
Business plan development
Therefore, the analysis of the stakeholders’ survey is
intimately linked both to the planning and structure of
courses, the invitation of participants to attend the
courses, dissemination activities and evaluation of the
long-term market potential for the set of courses after the
ending of the project (given in the form of contract
teaching to industry). For this reason, the analysis of the
survey results has been done in parallel to conducting of
the preliminary economic assessment report and the
development of actual pilot courses.
The stakeholders’ survey was initiated during the
summer of 2018 and will be open until the end of the
MINETRAIN project (March 2021) in order to attract as
many stakeholders as possible and collect their opinion on
specific issues that regard the mining industry training
needs and how they would like future courses to be
structured. In addition, the stakeholders’ survey is yet
another way of disseminating the project and is expected
to enhance its outcome and perspectives of continuation
after MINETRAIN is over.
In the context of this paper, the outcomes of the
analysis of the stakeholders’ survey are discussed in order
3
to understand what mining industry related professionals
really want when it comes to lifelong practical training.
Additionally, the results are used for the development of
pilot courses in terms of duration, content, project
management and operational structure. Furthermore, the
results are used for the calculation of costs and revenues
in order to evaluate the economic feasibility of such
training programs in the future.
Approach
The stakeholder analysis was conducted and is run
under the lead of the University of Oulu in Finland and of
TU Bergakademie Freiberg in Germany. The key steps of
this stakeholders’ survey consist the categorization of
stakeholders, compilation of a stakeholders list and
investigation of stakeholders needs through interviews or
questionnaires.
That said, an electronic questionnaire has been
developed and distributed to potential stakeholders around
the world (https://lnkd.in/gG8TnHt). For the promotion of
the survey several means of dissemination have been
used; the website of MINETRAIN (www.minetrain.eu),
social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Research
Gate), flyers that were distributed at international
conferences and related events, and finally through
personal contacts (emails and face-to-face discussions).
Structure
The survey form is composed of ten quantitative and
qualitative multiple-choice questions with two additional
optional fields for the participants to leave their contact
details and any additional comments. It is also mentioned
on the foreword that when publishing the results, the
personal information of those who have filled in the
questionnaires remain strictly confidential and will not
distributed for no reason whatsoever. An example of the
stakeholders’ survey is displayed in Figure 1. The
template is adjusted to meet the expected limits of a page
in this paper.
The structure of the survey is simple: the first three
questions are general and once the third multiple-choice
question is answered, another eight or nine questions pop
up (depending on the answer given to the third question).
At the beginning stakeholders are asked to give their
name, affiliation and contact details, while afterwards
they are asked to declare in which segment their company
or institution is situated. At this point it was found
necessary to identify the different stakeholder groups,
where each group is expected to have different needs. The
identified groups were the following:
Research and education
Mining companies
Equipment suppliers
Engineering companies
Consultants
The following third question is determinative and
regards to the type of training courses that the
stakeholders would be interested in. By selecting the
choice of multidisciplinary courses instead of just courses
with emphasis on a particular area/skill, an additional
question appears asking in which areas of specialization
the stakeholders would be interested in for the courses. In
this question the stakeholder has the possibility of giving
multiple answers, and thus select more than one areas of
specialization.
The next set of questions (5-7) aims to obtain
information about the preferred length of the courses, the
preferred balance between theory and practice, and which
educational pre-requisites do the stakeholders find
necessary for the trainees to have in order to be able to
efficiently attend the courses.
The third and final set of multiple-choice questions
(8-11) regards to economic and organizational details of
the courses. The stakeholders are asked how much fees
they would be willing to pay for a one week training
course and what would they expect to be covered by the
paid fees. In addition, stakeholders are asked for their
preferred season of the year to participate in a training
course. Finally, people are asked if a certificate of
completion of the courses is deemed necessary for them.
Obviously, the emphasis for the questionnaire was
mainly focused on the practical course arrangements,
timing, extent of courses, rather than detailed questions on
technical course content. Although not relevant for the
project time, respondents were also asked what they
would find to be a reasonable course fee. Later in the
project, when the evaluations of the first pilot course will
have been obtained, further revision to the concept can be
made before distributing new invitations and course
information to a wider group of stakeholders. The full
questionnaire results of this first round of stakeholders’
approach are summarized in the results section
hereinafter.
Results
By the end of 2019 the survey had been answered by
a total of 30 participants. This number is considered
neither big nor small, given the short period of time that
the survey is running and the restricted group of
stakeholders that the survey is targeting. Higher
participation and consequently more representative results
are expected to be presented by the end of the
MINETRAIN project in year 2021. Nevertheless, the
current results of the survey do offer valuable conclusions
and clear answers related to what stakeholders want.
4
Figure 1. The questionnaire launched for the MINETRAIN Stakeholders’ Survey (https://lnkd.in/gG8TnHt)
5
Out of the 30 participants 18 come from the research
and education sector (60%), while the remaining 12 are
equally distributed among four industry categories (i.e.
Mining companies, Equipment suppliers, Engineering
companies and Consulting), as shown in Figure 2. The
results showed that there is interest for the course concept
from both the academia and the industry, and that
depending on the impression from the first course
implementations stakeholders might also be willing to pay
a reasonable course fee to participate.
Figure 2. Answers to the question: “In which segment
your company or institution is situated?”
When asked which type of training courses they
would be interested in, 13 out of 30 stakeholders (43%)
asked for multidisciplinary courses and just 6 (20%) asked
for only specialized courses with an emphasis on a
particular area (Fig. 3). The remaining 11 participants
chose both options. Resultantly, the vast majority of the
stakeholders (87%) would like to be offered both
multidisciplinary training modules, as well as practical
courses focused on specific underground mining or
processing operations and activities.
Figure 3. Answers to the question: “In which type of
training courses would you be interested?”
To further analyze these choices, the results for which
areas of specialization would the stakeholders be
interested in are presented in Figure 4. The option of
having multiple choices has resulted in demand for all
areas of specialization. Mining and mineral processing
operations seem to be the most attractive sectors (19 and
17 answers respectively), while a remarkable piece of the
pie goes to health, safety and environment, mine closure,
and geology as well. Geophysics and operators’ training
seem to be less interesting, yet without being rejected.
Figure 4. Answers to the question: Which areas of
specialization would you be interested?”
In the second set of questions stakeholders gave
answers related to the structural type of training programs
under development. The envisaged course length varied
between respondents, with most requesting a one-week
(or even shorter) intensive courses (a total of 80%), while
a few others would prefer longer courses spread over two
or more weeks (Fig. 5).
Most respondents also requested the courses to have a
slightly stronger emphasis in practical training rather than
theory classes, as shown in Figure 6. Eleven stakeholders
would like to have a 50-50 balance between theory and
practice, while another 17 prefer a more practical training
program than theoretical, asking for 60-80% practice and
20-40% theory.
Figure 5. Answers to the question: What is your
preferred course length?”
6
Figure 6. Answers to the question: What is your
preferred balance between theory and practice?”
When asked about pre-requisites to attend the course,
almost all found good English skills and prior professional
training or education in geology, mining, and mineral
processing as necessary (Fig. 7). Tertiary education or
high school education was considered as the only pre-
requisite by only 13 and 8 people respectfully. The
analysis of these results gives a good impression of who
the potential trainees of such training programs should be,
and thus what is the target group to focus on for
participating in the continuation of the stakeholders’
survey and the pilot courses of MINETRAIN.
Figure 7. Answers to the question: Which pre-requisites
do you find necessary?”
The consensus course fee amongst responding
participants ranged from 3,000-5,000 € per participant per
week of course (Fig. 8). The vast majority of stakeholders
(77%) would pay approximately 3,000 €, while only 23%
would find 4,000 or 5,000 as a reasonable price, and
none would be willing to pay more. The participants
would pay for this amount of fees provided that tuition,
materials, and catering are included in the price (Fig. 9).
A little less than half of the respondents (47%) answered
that accommodation should also be included in the course
fees. On the contrary, most participants would be willing
to pay themselves (or their company) for their
transportation and personal protective equipment.
Figure 8. Answers to the question: How much would
you be willing to pay for a one-week training course?”
Figure 9. Answers to the question: “What would you
expect to be covered by the paid fees?
On top of all that, there is a clear preference among
the respondents for which is their preferred season of the
year for training courses to take place. The vast majority
(87%) wants the courses to be organized during spring
(March-May) or summer time (June-August) when the
weather is obviously better, given that the winter in
Finland is pretty harsh (Fig. 10).
Figure 10. Answers to the question: Which is your
preferred season for a training course?
7
Finally, when the stakeholders were asked if they
consider a certificate of completion necessary, almost all
participants (87%) corresponded that they would want to
get a certificate that they attended and successfully
fulfilled the training modules (Fig. 11).
Figure 11. Answers to the question: Do you consider a
certificate of completion necessary?
Evaluation of the Results
Overall, the preliminary results of the stakeholders’
survey are found to be rather interesting as well as helpful
when it comes to answering the basic research question
posed in this paper about what mining industry related
professionals do really want in practical training courses.
In addition, these results proved to be very useful for
the development of the initial pilot training course that
was planned in the context of MINETRAIN and took
place at the facilities of the Pyhäsalmi mine during the last
week of August 2019. The choice of the period was
determined primarily based on the stakeholders’
preferences and secondarily on the availability of the
facilities and mine staff, due to the fact that the operations
at Pyhäsalmi are still active.
Given the preferences of respondents related to the
contents and structure of the courses, the pilot course was
developed in a way that it consisted of six different but
strongly interconnected and successive disciplines of the
overall mining and processing cycle (health & safety,
geology, geophysics, mining, mineral processing and
mine closure).
Furthermore, based on the answers for the duration of
courses and the preferred balance between theory and
practice, it was decided that the initial pilot course of
MINETRAIN would consist of two separate weeks: one
week of theoretical online courses and one week of on-
site practical training.
Thus, a multidisciplinary module was arranged with
mainly practical activities as face-to-face learning, while
the theoretical elements were e-based learning tutorials.
Of course, it was also important to combine theoretical
lectures with practical interactive elements. For this
reason, part of the theory was also taught during the
practical courses in the surface and underground facilities
of the Pyhäsalmi mine.
The theoretical part of the course was launched in
July 2019 with more than 30 participants. However, not
all of them were meant to take part in the practical part of
the courses. An underground mining environment poses
risks even for experienced personnel, not to mention
people who have never worked in such conditions.
Accordingly, the maximum number of trainees for this
first module should not exceed 15 to 20. For this reason,
the pilot course was developed in a way that trainees were
examined on what they learned during the online
theoretical modules and based on the examination results,
the top 15 ranking candidates were selected to participate
in the on-site one-week practical training course at
Pyhäsalmi.
The first group of trainees consisted of employees
working in mining related companies, and academics who
have general background knowledge in mining, but had
not received training in an underground mine site before.
On the other hand, experienced underground mining and
mineral processing professionals were recruited, both
from the mine site and from the consortium of
MINETRAIN to prepare the theoretical online lectures
and to give the on-site practical courses.
. Conclusions
The pilot course was considered as rather successful
and all trainees received their certificates with the
completion of the one-week practical training courses.
The registration of trainees for the initial pilot course was
complimentary. However, the structure of the developed
pilot course among with the results of the stakeholders’
survey were considered necessary and rather useful in
order also to develop a business plan for potential
practical courses in the future and to conduct a
preliminary economic assessment report in the context of
the MINETRAIN project.
The stakeholders’ survey was launched in order to
identify what are the trends and demands of mining
industry related professionals when it comes to lifelong
practical training. Further to this, the survey proved useful
in the process of specifying structural, operational and
organizational issues related to the development of
practical training modules.
The number of people that have participated in the
survey may not be that big but it is enough to conclude to
results and make safe evaluations about the content,
structure, and organizational development of multi-
disciplinary training modules for mining industry related
professionals.
What needs to be done hereinafter is to try and invite
8
more people from targeted groups to participate in the
ongoing stakeholders’ survey and thus, conclude to results
that are even more representative of the real mining
industry conditions and raw materials market demands.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial
support received for the MINETRAIN research project
(2018-2020) from the European Institute of Innovation
and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union
under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Program for
Research and Innovation.
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  • O Langefeld
  • H Mischo
  • E Clausen
  • P Von Hartlieb
Binder, A., Langefeld, O., Mischo, H., Clausen, E. & von Hartlieb, P. (2018), "Innovative Learning Spaces", Mining Report GlückAuf, 154(5): 423-432.
Minerals Industry Education and Training
  • J Cilliers
  • D Drinkwater
Cilliers, J., Drinkwater, D., Heiskanen, K. (Eds.) (2013), "Minerals Industry Education and Training", The Indian Institute of Mineral Engineers, https://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/j.j.cilliers/docum ent/2347/FINAL%20IMPC%20Book/?FINAL%20I MPC%20Book.pdf (last accessed 22.09.2019)
An underground classroom
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Edgar Experimental Mine (2019), "An underground classroom", https://mining.mines.edu/edgar-experi mental-mine/ (last accessed 24.09.2019)
Pyhäsalmi" www.first-quantum.com/Our-Business/operatingmines/Pyhasalmi
First Quantum Minerals (2018), "Pyhäsalmi" www.first-quantum.com/Our-Business/operatingmines/Pyhasalmi/ (last accessed 26.10.18)
Montana Tech's Underground Mine Education Center
  • P Knudsen
  • S Rosenthal
Knudsen, P. & Rosenthal, S. (2019), "Montana Tech's Underground Mine Education Center", in Proceedings of the SME Annual Conference & Expo, 24-27 February 2019, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. 9.