Conference Paper

The MINETRAIN project -practical training courses for mining experts in real-life conditions

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Lifelong development of skills and knowledge of mining professionals has been recognised worldwide as a challenge for the development of a sustainable mining sector. Practical training and learning over the mine value chain are among the key components of this knowledge building. However, the number of available mining sites for continuous education in real-life conditions is limited, while also the specifications for practical training are not clearly defined. The project MINETRAIN has been developed to (i) evaluate the potential of the shortly-closing Pyhäsalmi Mine, in Finland, as an educational and training underground facility, and thus, prolong the utility of the existing modern mine site, and to (ii) develop and test practical training programs for mining and mining industry related professionals. Pyhäsalmi facilities enable training among all disciplines related to the overall mine value chain and hence, the project has potential in providing education for sustainable management of any phase of mining operations. The philosophy underpinning the MINETRAIN approach to mining activities is to assist the clients in minimising the technical and financial risks by providing a competitive and skilled personnel asset while optimising the value drivers in their operations. As a first major step of the project, a pilot training course, involving basic-level online theory and hands-on training at the Pyhäsalmi mine site, was undertaken in summer 2019. Feedback from the pilot test group of mining professionals has proved to be very positive. The comments from the participants highly emphasized the added value of the practical onsite training for improved understanding in the large scale picture of mining on all the value chain. As a second phase of the project a new test course was launched in June 2020. The second MINETRAIN course focuses on new technologies and digitization in mining.

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In an extremely competitive mining industry, onsite experience is a big advantage. Mining education at the universities is mostly focused on theoretical studies without a possibility of practical training in mining sites. Hence, experimental mines suitable for practical education are needed to provide a platform for systematic research and education in industrial scale and for training in real mining conditions. Yet, this kind of mine sites is rare worldwide. Thus, a new educational research project, namely MINETRAIN is introduced in this paper evaluating the transition of the Pyhäsalmi mine in Central Finland from an active base metal mine to a research, educational and training underground facility. The uniqueness of MINETRAIN compared to other test mine programs is that the existing state‐of‐art infrastructure in Pyhäsalmi enables research and training facilities among all disciplines related to the overall mine value chain. Though all the above sound interesting in the context of research and education purposes, in practice Pyhäsalmi will have to become an experimental mine that can be sustainable in the future. Accordingly, a prefeasibility study is being conducted and some preliminary results are presented in this paper.
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The transition to the sustainable development posed new challenges to the system of mining higher education. They are determined by the acceleration of scientific and technological progress and widespread introduction of innovations, convergence of technologies from various industries. On the one hand, globalization and rapid technology development are constantly increasing quality requirements for the labor resources of the mineral and raw materials complex and constant improvement of their skills. On the other hand, the transition to the sustainable development provides the necessity for rational use of raw materials and environmental protection. This requires the improvement of staff support system for mining operations and the interaction of enterprises with universities training mining engineers, aimed at the innovative competencies development of future miners.
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