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Giant zinc-copper mine adopts new training approach

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ADVANCED simulator training technology is now being employed at one of the world's biggest zinc and copper mines to improve the safety and productivity of mining equipment operators.

Peru's Compania Minera Antamina SA (CMAS), operator of the Antamina mine, 270km north-east of Lima in the Andes mountains, selected Immersive Technologies to supply a Semi-transportable AE (Advanced Equipment) Simulator and Caterpillar 785C, 789C, 793C, 797 Haul Truck Conversion Kit after evaluating available training simulator options.

CMAS has also engaged Immersive Technologies under a five-year service agreement to support the AE Simulator and ensure maximum availability of the unit.

Jointly owned by BHP Billiton (33.75%), Falconbridge (33.75%), Teck Cominco (22.5%) and Mitsubishi Corp (10%), the Antamina openpit mine and 70,000 tonnes-per-day mill commenced operation in October 2001 after a $US2.2 billion construction phase.

The mine, which employs more than 1400 people, has a projected life of more than 20 years. In its first 10 years of operation, it is expected to produce about 675 million pounds of copper and 625 million pounds of zinc annually. Mining is by conventional truck-and-shovel open-pit methods.

The concentrator features the world's largest single-circuit SAG milling operation.

Immersive Technologies recently extended its South American sales and service presence in response to rising demand for its AE Simulator solutions from mine operators in the region.

Antamina's AE Simulator is expected to help CMAS address local industry skills shortages, which is also among the key challenges for mining companies in Latin America.

Mine operations manager at Antamina, Daniel Gurtler said he expected the site to use its AE Simulator extensively to achieve uniform high-level results from training of new operators and to improve the skills of existing operators.

Immersive Technologies Latin America sales executive Alfonso Castaneda said major mine operators such as BHP Billiton - which is ramping up its use of Immersive AE simulator technology globally - were increasingly investing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operator training.

"The placement of a simulator in Antamina shows that mines in Latin America are very serious about safety, reducing costs and optimising production and that Immersive Technologies products and support are at the forefront of mine simulation," he said.

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