MAPTS Instructors Help Provide Yukon College Students with Real-Life Mining Experience

Ten Selkirk First Nation students spent several weeks learning the job skills required to work as a Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) at a surface mine in Pelly Crossing, Yukon, Canada. The opportunity was offered as part of partnership agreement between Yukon College, University of Alaska Mining and Petroleum Training Service (MAPTS), Pelly Construction Ltd. and Minto Mine/Capstone Mining Corp.  

Pelly Crossing is a small community in the Yukon Territories located near the confluence of the Pelly River and the Yukon River. The Minto Mine, located within Selkirk First Nation Traditional Territory and Settlement Lands, is one of the few mines in Canada operating on lands where a First Nation government owns both surface rights and mineral rights. The mine, an open pit copper-gold-silver mine owned by Capstone Mining Corporation , is located 240 kilometers north of Whitehorse. Pelly Construction Ltd., a northern leader in remote, mountainous, heavy construction and contract mining, has been actively involved in the construction, infrastructure development and operation of the Minto Mine since 1996. The mine has a projected life expectancy until 2022.

Last year, MAPTS provided Yukon College students with an Introduction to Mining course. This was an opportunity for interested First Nation citizens to investigate career opportunities in the mining industry. They visited surface mine sites around the Yukon area to get a first-hand understanding of the mining cycle and possible career choices.

This year, "things got real" for the students. During the first week, MAPTS instructors Sam Reves and Mike Azzara provided instruction on job-readiness skills and heavy equipment operations, knowledge-based training and CYBERMINE simulator training.

CYBERMINE simulated training provides a quick, safe and cost-effective way to learn and practice HEO skills. Students learn equipment controls, instrument panels and digital alert codes, as well as correct operating procedures. CYBERMINE simulators have interchangeable module components that adapt to simulate various equipment. It provides students with the same equipment panels, controls and seat that would be found in heavy equipment on a job site. A student can learn how to operate a CAT 777 haul truck one day, and a CAT 988G loader the next using the same simulator. The CYBERMINE simulator captures each student's progress, which can then be saved and compared with future training scenarios.

Learning operating and emergency readiness skills, and preventing the development of poor habits virtually, saves wear-and-tear on actual mine equipment. It improves safety performance before a student ever takes a seat in a real piece of equipment. The simulator provides MAPTS instructors with a real-time visual of a student's driving ability and response time. The instructor can insert real-world conditions, simulating such things as the loss of fluids, braking system, a tire blowout or larger events such as an equipment fire. These scenarios are usually reserved for a more experienced driver, however a mine operator may require prospective employees to experience a particular event, like a engine light warning, if they feel it is a reoccurring predicament with their less experienced drivers. Additionally, a re-creation of an accident at a mine can be simulated so that a seasoned Heavy Equipment Operator can experience what a miner involved in a real-life accident encountered right before an accident happened and learn the proper way to handle the situation.

The second week, the Selkirk First Nation students, working as employees of the Minto Mine under the supervision of Niles Wheeler, Pelly's HEO Trainer and MAPTS trainer Mike Azzara, attended orientation and site-specific training at the mine. They were allowed to ride along with Pelly heavy equipment operators during their full work day in the jump seat of the CAT 773’s and 777’s . The students rapidly progressed from driving around the yard. During the final two weeks of training they were allowed to enter into the mine cycle as HEO drivers and experience being loaded out by the Loader Operator in a CAT 988G and completing the load-haul-dump cycle.

Board of Regents Meeting in Juneau Includes Initial Budget Review

The Board of Regents will meet Sept. 26-27 on the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau. Public testimony will be heard at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 and 9 a.m. on Sept. 27.

The key item of business will be the introduction and first review of the FY15 operating and capital budgets. The board will also discuss the tuition rate for academic year 2015.

UAF's School of Management will be presenting their differential tuition proposal for board consideration. Shaping Alaska's Future (SDI) leaders will provide an update on the final effect statements and upcoming leadership development activities.

Leadership from across the system will provide updates on campus highlights, internal audits, development activity, human resources, labor relations, academics, facilities and more. Governance leaders will provide their reports as well.

The full agenda is available online: http://www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas/2013/sep-26-27/index.xml

A Torrent of Audits Hits Statewide

By Statewide Finance

Few people know of or understand the meticulous work done in our Finance department from Spring to Fall in the area of external audits. The outcome of these audits is of importance to the University as it has implications for bond ratings, donor confidence, borrowing costs, granting agencies and others. The audit outcome is important also to stakeholders such as the Board of Regents, the State of Alaska and the legislature. The external auditors provide progress reports to the Board of Regents in September and December. And as you might guess, the impact of an adverse audit can be huge.

Our current external auditor is Moss Adams LLP, the nation’s 11th largest accounting firm. In May and June the auditors reviewed our IT controls, controls over all financial areas, and payroll and expenditures transactions. Supporting documentation including time sheets, purchase orders, invoices, cancelled checks, grant agreements and various reports, are all reviewed to substantiate transactions.

In September, the auditors turn their focus on financial statement audit and audit of federal grants. At the time of this writing, there are seven external auditors in the Butrovich building. Our Fund Accounting department has intensive interaction with the external auditors with regard to financial statements, while our Financial Systems department has intensive interaction with the external auditors for the IT control components. Audit of our financial statements includes: analytics and substantive testing; audit adjustments/ accrued liabilities; judgments as to significance and severity; subjects subject to second partner review; under Federal Single Audit: internal controls over compliance requirements.

In addition, the University of Alaska Foundation and Consolidated Endowment Funds are being audited. These entail literally hundreds of hours of staff time to prepare audit confirmations, schedules, work papers and financial statements. Much time is devoted to responding to auditor inquiries.

Further, PricewaterhouseCoopers is auditing the financial statements of the massive college savings portfolio of the Education Trust of Alaska.

An audit of the FY14-16 proposed Facilities & Administration (F & A) cost rates is also underway by the Defense Contract Audit Agency. This audit is expected to last approximately five months. These rates are used on federal grants and contracts for the purpose of recovering indirect/ overhead costs of the university. As in the financial statement audit, auditors test the input of data in the F & A rate calculation, and the reliability of internal controls. An adverse audit finding here could mean a lower F & A rate which translates to less dollar recovery of the overhead cost incurred for the university’s research and grant activities.

In addition, Foundation accounting staff members are preparing the IRS Form 990 that has to be filed for the Foundation. This is a 48-page document. IRS Form 990-T also has to be filled for reporting unrelated business income from limited partnership investment activities and installment sales.

All these audits will eventually culminate in the production of UA’s Annual Financial Report in December. For the first time, our Annual Financial Report will be aligned in presentation, scope and content with similar reports produced by other universities.

One last note— the external audits mentioned here are in addition to our numerous on-going internal audits and special audits. While audits entail considerable technical data compilation and analysis, they are essential to maintaining the financial integrity and reputation of the entire University of Alaska system.

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