23/01/2020 - 11:02

Caterpillar training facility for Collie

23/01/2020 - 11:02

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The state government today announced the investment of $2.7 million to secure a Caterpillar autonomous training facility in Collie, the first such facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

Caterpillar training facility for Collie
WesTrac says the new facility will position Collie as a world leader in skills development in automation. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state government today announced the investment of $2.7 million to secure a Caterpillar autonomous training facility in Collie, the first such facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

That investment is part of the $20 million Collie Futures Fund, which was formally launched in June 2019 as a way to diversify the town's economy.

Its importance was highlighted in August 2019, when the state government announced it would scale back operations at the local Muja Power Plant, citing cost to taxpayers and reduced demand for coal-fired power generation.

The new Caterpillar facility, which will be delivered by WesTrac and built by Piacentini & Son, is expected to train around 204 students in its first year of operation and attract local, national and international students.

WesTrac chief executive Jarvas Croome said Collie was the ideal location for the new facility given the town's mining history, and that its construction, set to commence this month, would include a new fully autonomous off-highway truck, construction of an autonomous operations zone, and training room facilities.

“The initial focus will be to provide training in fit-out and maintenance requirements for the conversion and operation of existing Caterpillar haulage vehicles,” Mr Croome said.

“Over time, we anticipate expanding the range of courses on offer to ensure the facility caters for the recognised skills of the future that will be in demand as the resources sector evolves."

“It’s an opportunity to position Collie and Western Australia as a world leader in advanced technology and skills development in automation and autonomous operations.”

Premier Mark McGowan congratulated WesTrac for working with the government to get the facility off the ground.

“People will come from all over the world to utilise this facility - the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the second worldwide for Caterpillar,” Mr McGowan said.

“Crucially, we expect clients to spend time in the town as they undertake their training, supporting local businesses and local jobs.

“It will see Collie placed at the forefront of training workers - including local workers in Collie - in new technological skills for large-scale mining operations across the state.

“This is a new industry for Collie and WA that will result in new jobs and training opportunities for local people, while meeting demand from around Australia and overseas.”

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Collie Futures Fund had opened the doors to new industry in the area, and that Collie would provide a leading role in training people in the operation and maintenance of autonomous mining equipment.

“The facility will be used to train operators from across Australian mining operations and also international mine sites,” he said.

“It will be a vital facility to assist in meeting growing demand for training in autonomous technology, particularly in the resources sector.

“The project will create jobs both during construction and when the facility is operational.”

Member for Collie-Preston Mick Murray said the new facility would help create more industry in the town and deliver support to the local economy.

“This isn’t about changing what mining looks like in Collie, it’s about allowing locals, and people from across the state, to have the opportunity to be trained to work in industries in which there will be high demand in the future,” he said.

“It will see Collie placed at the forefront of training workers in new technical skills in a rapidly emerging part of the resources industry.

“We expect this facility will bring hundreds of people to Collie to undertake training, delivering large flow-on effects to small businesses, such as the hospitality sector."

WesTrac is owned by ASX-listed Seven Group Holdings, and ranks first on the BNiQ list of mining services companies with 1,400 staff in WA.

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