Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 9, 2013

DMME to use Alpha facility to produce mine safety video

BIG STONE GAP, Va. — The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will be working at the Alpha Natural Resources Running Right Leadership Academy in Julian to develop a training video “to help ensure miners working underground and at the surface of a deep mine are properly prepared in the event of an underground emergency,” according to a DMME press release.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration awarded a $50,000 grant to DMME for the project through the Brookwood-Sago grant program. The $50,000 grant to DMME was one of five grants — totaling $582,802 — awarded by MSHA through the Brookwood-Sago grant program. The Brookwood-Sago grant program is part of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) act of 2006, passed in memory of the 13 coal miners who died in a 2001 mine explosion at Brookwood, Ala., and the 12 coal miners who died in the 2006 mine explosion at the Sago Mine.

DMME also received a Brookwood-Sago grant in 2011, and developed a video to train underground coal miners how to react in an emergency. DMME’s training video received the grand prize in MSHA’s 17th Annual Training Materials Competition. Brookwood-Sago grants are “used to establish and implement education and training programs, or to develop training materials for employers and miners, concerning safety and health topics in mines,” according to the DMME press release.

“Alpha Natural Resources has agreed to host the production of the video at their new training center,” Randy Moore, chief of the DMME Division of Mines was quoted as stating in a press release. “This location provides us with a great location to shoot the video and also allows us to demonstrate one of the types of training that eventually will be available to the mining industry at (Alpha’s) academy.”

DMME personnel were not immediately available for additional comment Friday afternoon.

The Alpha Running Right Academy in Julian opened on June 20. The academy features a 136,000 square foot campus that includes classroom space for 300 people, with “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,” according to press release on PR Newswire.

Alpha announced on Nov. 6, that the company recently earned national and state recognition “for mine safety performance, safety technology development and surface mine restoration.”

Alpha received two Sentinels of Safety awards from the National Mining Association for Dickenson-Russell Coal’s  Roaring Fork No, 4 Mine (small mines category), and for Omar Mining’s Chesterfield Prep Plant (small prep plant category). In addition NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,” awarded the Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award to Alpha for its partnership with Matrix Design Group to develop the next generation atmospheric monitoring sensors that detect air velocity, low-power methane and carbon monoxide.

Alpha also received two underground safety awards and the 2013 excellence in Reclamation Award presented by the Kentucky Coal Association.

“These awards are examples of how our people live Alpha’s commitment to Running Right by continually focusing on safety, striving for improvement and operating in an environmentally responsible manner,” Paul Vining, Alpha president was quoted in a press release as stating. “Safety is Alpha’s first priority and embedded throughout our culture, which is why we are proud to celebrate these accomplishments,” Vining stated.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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