Running Right Academy opens doors

ALPHA Natural Resources has dedicated its $23 million Running Right Leadership Academy in southern West Virginia. The academy was promised as part of the miner’s $210 million landmark settlement with the US Department of Justice following the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.

Donna Schmidt

The first-of-its-kind facility in Julian, Boone County, is a comprehensive education and training complex offering an extensive line of curriculum for miners as well as hands-on experience with the industry’s latest safety technologies.

The broad range of subjects available at academy include technical, safety and leadership skills for both underground and surface miners, from front mine workers to office support staff.

The 136,000-square-foot Alpha Academy is made up of classroom space that can hold up to 300 students along with a 96,000 square foot lab space to simulate mine situations and conditions and for electrical, welding and maintenance skills training.

It also features the latest mine safety technologies, including air flow sensors and multi-gas hand held detectors, and has a command center for mine rescue and emergency preparedness training.

The facility houses equipment for supervisory leadership skill training as well, and virtual reality trainers for the operation of continuous miners, roof bolters, scoops and haul trucks with real-time performance feedback.

Alpha said all of its employees would be put through the academy, an extension on its existing mine safety training programs.

“The success of our company and industry starts with safety,” Alpha chairman and chief executive officer Kevin Crutchfield said.

“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 producer is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the academy’s opening and has invited legislative, employee and industry guests.

“Coal runs deep in West Virginia,” West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin said of the complex.

“We need to ensure that miners return home safely after every shift. The Running Right Leadership Academy marks a major advance in that goal.”

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