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Virtual reality is the new reality at Vale

Sudbury technology centre to provide “immersive” training tools for mining industry
NORCAT's Jason Bubba (left) shows off the virtual reality hardware at PDAC 2020.

NORCAT, Sudbury’s innovation and training centre, is working with nickel miner Vale to develop interactive educational tools, like virtual reality, to train its global workforce.

The centre announced a “strategic partnership” with one of the world’s largest mining companies at the Prospectors and Developers mining conference in Toronto, March 2.

NORCAT is out to deliver a suite of “interactive and experiential technology” tools for Vale in the area of equipment operation and maintenance training.

Among these new methods include virtual reality (VR) pre-operational circle check training tools and exercises for mine equipment, including forklifts and utility vehicles.

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In a news release, NORCAT’s director of technology Ed Wisniewski said they can provide a portfolio of “engaging and meaningful content in an immersive experience for the global mining industry like no other in the world."

“Experiential learning technologies, including virtual reality, represent the future of training and engaged learning and our work with leading mining companies has demonstrated that, when applied correctly, these integrated technologies create an immersive-learning experience that drives meaningful learning outcomes and enhances knowledge retention," he said.

Chris Bamberger, Vale’s manager of learning and development for its North Atlantic operations, expects this collaboration to be transformative in the future of skills training in the industry.

"Safety and operational excellence is a top priority for Vale, and we are pleased to announce the partnership with NORCAT to advance and augment our virtual reality training capabilities.”

Jason Bubba, NORCAT’s training and development director, called it an exciting partnership that will allow Vale miners to strengthen their skills in doing their jobs safety and productively.

"By continuing to develop state of the art technologies for a new world of training for a new world of work, NORCAT remains at the forefront of innovation as a market leader in skilled labour training and development for the global mining industry.”

NORCAT was debuting some of its technologies with live demonstrations of virtual and augmented reality at its booth in the Northern Ontario Mining Showcase at PDAC 2020 in Toronto.