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Developing Operational Competence for South Crofty Mine's Winder Drivers

Case study

120+ Years Experience Over 120 years' experience
Teamwork Teamwork
Bespoke courses available Bespoke courses available
Ambitious Ambitious
Established, growing company Established, growing company

Cornwall's South Crofty Mine has a mining history spanning centuries and boasts one of the world's richest tin deposits. After closing its doors in 1998 because of prolonged low tin prices, South Crofty is making a comeback, thanks to Cornish Metals. They aim to achieve full production by the end of 2026, but reaching this goal relies on many important steps. One prerequisite of the endeavour is the revitalisation of the mine's iconic headframe.

The journey began with the construction of a dewatering plant designed to extract water from the mine. This made way for underground access via the historic New Cooks Kitchen Shaft. Now, the sheave wheels on the headframe are set to turn once again, supported by newly acquired single drum winding engines — opening a door to a Cornish industry that some thought was closed forever.

The Requirement

Operating the winders safely demands a skilled team of winder operators. Cornish Metals Inc. recognised this need and enlisted the expertise of MRS Training and Rescue to develop and deliver training that adheres to recognised National Occupational Standards and best practices.

Although renowned for its safety training across various sectors, including manufacturing, construction, oil, gas, and tunnelling, MRS maintains a deep-rooted connection with the UK and international mining industry and celebrates a rich history of mining rescue.

MRS sits on leadership bodies such as HSE led Mining Competency Group and the Mining Industry Leadership Group (MILG). These organisations are charged with developing the joint operator / regulatory strategy for improving the performance of health, safety and welfare across the UK underground mining sector.

With a team of qualified assessors and internal verifiers, many with backgrounds in mining or other high-risk industries, MRS is well-equipped to maintain and elevate standards.

Our Approach

Leveraging our extensive experience in the mining sector, our specialists devised a comprehensive training programme to transform novice recruits into proficient winder drivers. The programme involves a structured knowledge training system supplemented by a portfolio-based approach that encourages local site-level development. An equally structured assessment approach ensures that these skills can be effectively applied in an operational environment.

The modular nature of the assessment process allowed for the prioritisation of competencies to meet the developing needs of the project, with the immediate requirements being:

  • Operations for the safe transportation of people
  • Material operations
  • The installation of shaft services
  • Shaft examination
  • Emergency arrangements

Hands on Training

MRS arranged a visit to Siemag Tecberg Group in Guisborough. This is where the South Crofty winder controls were being tested. During this visit, the winding team gained valuable experience operating the controls before the winders were installed at the Cornish mine.

Further pre-commissioning training occurred at The National Mining Museum in Wakefield, led by MRS Training and Rescue's team. Here, the new operators were introduced to the initial knowledge sections and received practical experience on a traditional winder, with support from the museum's engineering and mining staff.

Future Plans

The next phase of the project will see the installation of the winders at South Crofty. The new winder operators will continue to develop their knowledge via their portfolio. Once they have had some practical experience at the mine on the new winder, we will carry out an on-site assessment to ascertain their competence and develop further training accordingly.

MRS Training and Rescue Can Help

If you require bespoke specialist training for health & safety and operational excellence within the mining industry or beyond, MRS Training and Rescue can help. Contact us today to discuss your requirements and how we can meet them.

It is a very exciting time for us at South Crofty and the commissioning of new hoisting equipment in our main shaft is a milestone achievement for us in the process towards full-scale reopening and tin production once more. Having MRS training our new winder drivers has been fantastic and all of us are benefiting from their experience in deep UK mining shaft access works and the insights they can provide accordingly. The training program has been well thought out and developed, which, given its compliance with and recommendations from the HSE Mines Inspectorate, is both extremely valuable in developing competency for our operators and provides assurance that we are following best practise available in the UK.
Steve Tarrant, Mine Manager for Cornish Metals
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