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Bradley surface mine contract for SIM Academy

SIM Academy training at Banks Mining

Co. Durham-based training provider chosen by Banks Mining to further enhance workplace skills

COUNTY Durham-based training providers SIM Academy have been chosen by Banks Mining to help further enhance the workplace skills of the plant operations team at their Bradley surface mine near Leadgate.

Mick Gray, who runs SIM Academy, is now working with members of the team at the Bradley site as they progress towards a total of 19 Level 2 NVQs in Mobile Plant Operations.


The nationally recognized qualification covers a wide range of the plant equipment used at the Bradley site, including excavators, dozers, shovels, dumptrucks and graders, and combines observations of practical work with one-to-one instruction on areas such as site safety procedures, small maintenance tasks and standard operational procedures.

Each individual’s work is recorded electronically and collated into an e-portfolio that is used to provide evidence of the tasks they have completed, which is required for the qualification.

Mick Gray set up SIM Academy six months ago after spending 20 years working as a plant operator himself, as well as in training and demonstrator roles with UK Coal and Caterpillar. The company works across the construction, mining and agricultural sectors, and is headquartered in Tanfield Lee, near Stanley.

Mr Gray said: ‘The training work that I’m carrying out ensures the team’s skills are fully up to date and that each person has the key elements of their roles and responsibilities fresh at the front of their minds at all times. The Bradley team is already highly skilled, and they’re all taking to the tasks in hand extremely well.

‘Much of our work is outside the North East and involves significant travel, so it’s really beneficial to the business to have this sort of work happening on our doorstep.’

Forty-one jobs are now being directly supported by Banks Mining at the Bradley site, alongside others in the local supply chain. More than half of those working at Bradley live within five miles of the site, with almost all living within a 15-mile radius.

Jamie Drysdale, manager at Bradley surface mine, said: ‘Banks Mining have been providing people in the North East with the chance to build long-term careers and support their families through our mining operations for more than four decades, and we are continuing to invest in our highly skilled workforce to ensure they can continue to work in the safest, most efficient and most environmentally responsible way possible.

‘We have a long-standing policy of choosing to work with firms based in the communities around our projects wherever possible, and Mick’s substantial knowledge and expertise is making a tangible difference to our Bradley team’s skills base.

‘The training they’re undertaking will not only help them in the work they’re doing now, but will also provide them with skills that they can use right through their careers.’


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