Alpha Natural Resources’ $23 million, state-of-the-art Running Right Leadership Academy, opened in Julian, WV on June 20, 2013 with a goal to teach miners how to avoid injury and death in any disaster.
Born of a landmark $210 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, the academy is a comprehensive education and training facility for mine safety and operations.
“The success of our company and industry starts with safety,” said Kevin Crutchfield, chairman and chief executive officer of Alpha Natural Resources said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to traditional classroom training, the Running Right Leadership Academy includes an 8,900 m2 (96,000 sq ft) lab that is able to simulate mine situations and conditions.
Instructors can create fire, floods, roof falls, worker injuries and more. Its walls are metal and it sits aboveground, but it mimics a real mine — one with built-in floor drains and fans, and surveillance cameras so others can watch from a classroom.
“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 approximately $23 million into the facility and development of the curriculum that 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, Alpha Natural Resources said in a statement.
The Alpha Academy is a 12,600 m2 (136,000 sq ft) campus that includes classroom space for up to 300 people. The complex includes 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 their performance. All employees in the Alpha organization will eventually go through the academy, the company said in a statement. The academy will supplement the company’s existing mine safety training programs.
“The Alpha Academy is an extension of Alpha’s employee-driven Running Right safety philosophy, which focuses on eliminating at-risk behavior through employee observation and reporting. Our ultimate aim is to further improve employee safety and regulatory performance so that we move closer to zero safety related incidents,” said Crutchfield.
For more information, visit Alpha's official website (www.alphanr.com)