Training initiatives start gaining momentum in West Africa

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Although the Covid-19 pandemic halted several training programmes in West Africa, mining training solutions provider Prisma MD Jacques Farmer says projects have fast-tracked training since the start of 2023.

Prisma, for example, started collaborating with global consulting firm Mac Partners and gold miner AngloGold Ashanti before the pandemic, intending to launch training programmes in Ghana.

“We signed a relationship agreement with Mac Partners for all projects undertaken in Ghana. Now that Covid-19 regulations have eased, more people and businesses are open to engage with us, with the scope of engagement being particularly notable over the last two months,” he says.

To ensure the industry remains self-sufficient, Farmer adds that Prisma aims to upskill those working in the sector, as well as those residing in surrounding communities.

Hence, the training solutions provider has presented a proposal to the Ghanaian Minerals Commission to establish competency training, with Prisma suggesting the establishment of a human capital training programme for mining houses in Guinea and Ghana by midyear.

This involves the introduction of training programmes for those working in the mining industry, which will also serve as a springboard for Prisma to offer its services throughout Western Africa.

Meanwhile, in mid-April Prisma intends to introduce training for jumbo operators, as well as technical blasting and supervisory training, at AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine in Ghana, with the gold miner having earmarked a training venue that will be fully equipped and occupied by competent resources of Prisma in partnership with Mac Partners.

“While our training is very much based on technical exposure, we are also focusing on soft (human) skills and how we can assist communities and contractors with deploying these types of training interventions,” says Farmer.

Incorporating Technology

The Covid-19 pandemic not only halted mining operations but also escalated the introduction of technology for mining operations globally, which is notable in, for example, an uptake in demand for virtual reality, simulation, gamification and blended technology training approach, focusing on both safety compliance and human capital development training interventions.

While the importance of technology is being recognised globally, owing to the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Farmer says some clients do not always fully understand what these entails, causing them to buy technology that is not suitable for their operations.

As a result, Prisma has introduced technology into its technical training programmes while consulting firms decide which training methodologies would best be suited to individual operations.

Moreover, the training provider aims to implement operator performance analysis software programmes for its training methodologies to monitor the performance of operations at a mine over a certain period.

The software will assist in generating reports that compare how the behaviour of operators – before and after receiving training – have changed. This will ensure that its training programmes provide a return on investment, as well as a return on expectation, to assure clients that the technology is worth the investment.

Prisma and Mac Partners have implemented three simulators at training sites in West Africa, with Farmer noting that the technology will be more operational once the agreement with Mac Partners has been finalised.

In the next three to five years, the training provider hopes to have established a training centre in Ghana while employing Ghanaian citizens to conduct training in the country and across West Africa.

“This is just the beginning. We aim to show mining houses that we are investing in technology because it is important for business operations. Technology should play a critical role in our learning methodologies to ensure that our clients get an adequate return on equity and on investment.

“We believe that South Africa can compete with mining jurisdictions, such as Canada and Australia and, as a South African training solutions provider, we want to be seen as regional partners when it comes to conducting business with other African countries,” Farmer concludes.

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