Wyoming Gov. Mead wants the BLM to lift its moratorium a federal coal leases.

Krempp Construction Inc. in Jasper was awarded the contract to build the almost 40,000-square-foot mock mine. It will have two main entrances with two exits on each side. VU received funding for the project in the state’s biennium budget.

“In addition to coal, this new center will be useful for other types of mining as well as for fire and rescue training and VU’s Homeland Security and Law Enforcement programs,” said VU President Chuck Johnson.

Modeled after a simulated underground mine training facility at West Virginia University, VU expects its new facility to attract miners from throughout Indiana as well as Illinois and Kentucky.

VU is Indiana’s designated recipient of federal grant funding from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to provide assistance in the training and retraining of Indiana’s miners. The VU program was initiated in October 2005 for miners in all segments of the mining industry, including coal, sand and gravel, cement, crushed stone, dimension limestone, gypsum, shale, and clay. VU’s Mining program provides the required training for new underground miners and new surface miners, in addition to MSHA-required annual refresher training for all miners.

“VU provides MSHA training to thousands of miners annually. This new facility will add to our capacity to do that training,” Johnson said.

Emphasizing the need for the new facility, VU Board Chair John Stachura said coal is located in 18 counties in southwestern Indiana, with rock mining located in most of Indiana’s 92 counties. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Indiana has 17 billion tons of recoverable coal.

Johnson said construction of the mock mine will take about seven months. He expects construction to begin soon.

VU’s Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing is a leading resource for workforce development. The 57,000-square-foot facility features modern and flexible training labs and classrooms that serve employers, employees, and students within southwestern Indiana’s industrial corridor. It is located on U.S. 41 near Fort Branch and just a few miles from interstates 64 and 69.

VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper and additional sites such as Indianapolis, Lebanon and Gibson County. A leader in developing Early Colleges statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.

In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.

VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 35 other states, and 17 countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.