Alpha Resources CEO Kevin Crutchfield hailed the “scale and scope” of the facility, citing it as a first in the coal mining business. “The success of our company and industry starts with safety,” Crutchfield said. “Our aim is to improve employee safety and performance so we move to zero safety related incidents.”

Alpha invested $23 million into the project and its broad-ranging curriculum focuses on technical, safety and leadership skills, according to company officials. On a 136,000-ft campus with classroom space for 300 people, the academy will instruct underground miners, surface miners and support personnel, while featuring a 96,000-sq-ft lab simulating mine scenarios and labs for electrical, welding and maintenance skills training.

Other technologies, including air flow sensors and multigas handheld detectors, a command center for mine rescue, and emergency preparedness training and facilities will also be available. Virtual simulators allowing participants to operate mining machines, roof bolters and scoop and haul trucks will be enhanced by real-time performance feedback.