Alpha opens new coal mine safety academy in West Virginia

Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) announced June 20 the opening of the Running Right Leadership Academy, a state-of-the-art comprehensive education and training facility for coal mine safety and operations located in Julian, W.Va.

“The success of our company and industry starts with safety,” said Kevin Crutchfield, chairman and CEO of Alpha. “The Running Right Leadership Academy is the culmination of years of planning and hard work, and we are proud to have brought this concept to reality. The scale and scope of the facility is the first of its kind in the industry, demonstrating our leadership and commitment to the well-being of our employees.” 

“Coal runs deep in West Virginia. It employs thousands of our people and contributes to the economic development of our communities,” said West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. “We need to ensure that miners return home safely after every shift. The Running Right Leadership Academy marks a major advance in that goal. We are proud to host this world-class facility in our state and believe that it will become a beacon for safety throughout the industry.” 

Alpha has invested about $23m into the facility and development of the curriculum which is extensive and integrates a broad range of subject areas including technical, safety and leadership skills. It will be a resource for miners who work underground, as well as surface miners and office support personnel. 

The Alpha Academy is a 136,000 square foot campus that includes:

  • classroom space for up to 300 people;
  • a 96,000 square foot lab that can simulate mine situations and conditions;
  • labs for electrical, welding and maintenance skills training;
  • the latest mine safety technologies, including air flow sensors and multi-gas hand held detectors;
  • a command center for mine rescue and emergency preparedness training; and
  • facilities and equipment for supervisory leadership skill training.

Virtual reality simulators will allow participants to operate continuous mining machines, roof bolters, scoop and haul trucks and receive real-time feedback on performance. All employees in the Alpha organization will eventually go through the Academy, which will supplement the company’s existing mine safety training programs.

Alpha Natural Resources is one of the largest and most regionally diversified coal suppliers in the U.S. With mining operations in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, Alpha supplies metallurgical coal to the steel industry and thermal coal to generate power to customers on five continents,

Alpha has worked hard since its June 2011 buy of Massey Energy to fix Massey’s much-criticized mine safety program and to restore faith in that program among state and federal mine safety regulators in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.