Premier Steven Marshall today opened BHP's School of Rock at Olympic Dam. Photo: Bension Siebert

BHP has unleashed a massive boost for mining skills in South Australia as it launched today a training school at Olympic Dam for people with no experience in mining giving those with passion about mining a lease of life to further their skill sets. Its a skills development program that has been welcomed by the state and  hailed by mining practitioners as the investment the mining future needs.

The programme has been embraced  by many from different walks of life including teachers, barber’s and barristers among many  who have traded their white collar jobs for the multi-coloured overalls and boots that will offer a reverting and high speed , challenging but enjoyable mining experience. South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall officially opened the company’s Underground School of Excellence – dubbed the “School of Rock” – at the mine near Roxby Downs this morning and was joined by Minister for Mining and Energy the Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan on a tour of the underground mine.

Australia, currently experiencing a silently whispered mining boom is reeling from a shortage of critical technical skills to propel the upward trend in projects and mining production. Recently, Colleges offering mining related programs have experience depressed uptakes in programs with many shying off the potential impacts experienced during the 2012-2014 downturn where mining companies went on a job chopping “jamboree” citing depressed commodity markets.

At the newly opened School, a total of  87 students have already completed the five-week course offered at the school, which unofficially opened about six months ago. The mining company flew just over a dozen journalists and camera operators, the Premier, communications staff and Olympic Dam employees to the site for a tour and the launch.

At the school which will give students a classic feeling, learning will be conducted 450 metres below the surface. The students who go through the program come from industries outside of mining. The School of Rock will help deliver on a responsibility employers and governments share to ensure training of  the next generation of employees for the jobs of the future. Mining has embraced digital transformation  aggressively and has seen companies like BHP taking education of their future workforce in their hands by creating Centres of Excellence where systems like Autonomous Haulage have been deployed.

Olympic Dam Asset President Laura Tyler said: “The School of Rock is an example of BHP playing its part in building South Australia’s skills base and providing new opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to join our team. It is also a fantastic example of putting people first; of collaboration, ingenuity and innovation that puts people and their wellbeing at the centre of what we do.”

Asked to describe what training for new workers looked like before the school opened, Laura  said,  “They got given a buddy and put on the job, pretty much”.  the It would take them three or four months before they would really get kind of job-ready. Laura further indicated that the number of injuries among new workers had fallen since the school began training people, and that the program had been attracting a more diverse workforce to work at the mine.

Marshall said BHP’s fortunes were vital to South Australia’s future success.
“What were seeing here us a massive investment … to train up the next generation,” he said.
Regarded as one of the cornerstone of the South Australian economy, BHP Olympic Dam employs about 4000 workers. Olympic Dam is one of the biggest South Australian miners  with a 700-kilometre underground network of tunnels, all for the extraction of the commodity reshaping the future automotive industry-copper.

 

By Mining Executive Reporter

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