SUDBURY -- MacLean Engineering, Canada’s largest manufacturer of underground mining vehicles, is partnering with Cambrian College to address a gap in skills training.

They are offering an industrial battery vehicle maintenance course as underground equipment switches to electric battery technology for 21st century mining.

"There is a big trend in the industry right now because of the benefits of electric vehicles, whether it's on ventilation or human health due to reduced emissions underground," said Steve Gravel, manager of the Centre for Smart Mining at Cambrian College.

"We are seeing a huge shift towards adopting battery electric vehicles and one of the consequences of that is needing a better-trained workforce."

The new course is designed for heavy-duty mechanics working in the mining sector. Industry officials said more and more equipment used underground is now powered by electric batteries.

Increasing demand

"Over the years, we have seen a rise in demand for emission-free vehicles in the mining industry," said Stella Holloway, general manager of Northern Ontario operations of MacLean Engineering.

"MacLean has ramped up, and as a result, we have battery electric vehicles operating in several of our Canadian mines."

Officials at Cambrian and MacLean Engineering said the new program will have a positive impact on how quickly the mining industry can pivot to electric vehicles.

"About a year and a half ago, we started hearing from industry that there is a major skills gap developing in the industry in the area of battery electric vehicle skills," said Gravel.

Students will have access to hands-on learning underground. Part of the training will take part in a test tunnel onsite at the MacLean Research and Training facility in Lively.

"We are pleased to support the program and partner with Cambrian College," Holloway said. "We feel that it is a pivotal element in the adoption of EV technology and it's the next step to, you know, pushing the industry to transition over to a greener future."

The course is set up in four modules and is a total of 60 hours.