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Anglo American and the Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE) have unveiled a state-of-the-art Virtual Reality (VR) lab in Mackay to improve worker safety and training in the mining sector.

The lab aims to enhance workforce development by providing more than 20 training modules on topics ranging from critical safety protocols to advanced learning tools.

Anglo American’s Australia CEO, Dan van der Westhuizen, emphasised the lab’s importance for mining in Queensland.

“Anglo American is committed to technological advancements that improve safety and sustainability. This partnership exemplifies our commitment to fostering innovation and preparing the mining workforce for the future.”

The VR lab offers immersive experiences that complement on-site training. Modules cover areas like hazard identification, working at heights, and handling hazardous substances with the potential for site specific course to be developed.

“New technologies require new skills. The lab is a significant step in using virtual reality to train our teams. Training outcomes can be integrated into learning management systems, making continuous development easy,” said Dan.

“It can be used for graduate assessment, trades assessment, onboarding, and industry problem-solving. It’s not just about our workers; it’s about empowering the entire industry and the next generation.”

Steven Boxall, RCOE CEO, said the Virtual Reality not only aligns with Anglo American’s agenda but also fits squarely into RCOE’s long-term vision and he highlighted the long-range impact of the collaboration.

“This partnership connects Anglo American into the Resources Centre of Excellence vision across Stages 1, 2 and 3 which ultimately expands our offering out to Moranbah and helps support those mining sites into the future,” he said.

“RCOE is dedicated to advancing the mining sector’s capabilities through cutting-edge technologies and training programs and I think this VR lab is set to become a beacon of excellence in mining education.”

Steven also said the lab represents an open door for various stakeholders in the mining community.

“Everyone is talking about virtual reality but it’s hard to test and trial it without access to the hardware and the relevant training platform. Whether you are a school group, a training organisation, or a company looking at doing things differently, we’ve now got access to this right here in Mackay.”

Aquila Mine General Manager Shane McDowall, who also serves as RCOE Board Chairman, sees the VR technology as a groundbreaking development.

“Being able to immerse new personnel in real-world situations without hazards will raise awareness around fundamental controls required in our industry,” he said.

“It’s not only a tool for Anglo American but also for the wider community to experience and learn about the industry in a highly immersive and safe environment.”

The launch of the VR Lab sets a new standard for industry education. By merging technology with hands-on experience, this collaborative effort between Anglo American and RCOE aims to not only enhance safety and efficiency, but to also pave the way for the future of mining.

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