The full-day event at Cumberland River Coal’s Pine Branch mine in Wise County involved more than 150 miners, local law enforcement, emergency responders and representatives of the US Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
“Employees from across Arch's national network of mines practiced their assigned roles, from mapping specialists to media spokespersons,” the company said.
“Arch and the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College tested high-tech rescue and communication equipment, including hand-held wireless devices.”
The Cumberland River drill was Arch’s second voluntary mock emergency event this year; the first was held at Mountain Coal’s West Elk mine in Colorado in April.
It is also the fourth all-hands safety activity an Arch operation has conducted; each has been designed to be unique and includes special effects including smoke machines to create an intensity to simulate an actual emergency.
"Arch's vision is to operate the world's safest coal mines,” said Cumberland River general manager Rick Johnson.
“Our commitment to operating safely includes regularly refining our emergency plans and practicing the skills we hope to never use."
Arch's 375-worker Cumberland River subsidiary operates the Pine Branch mine, which recorded a lost-time incident rate of 1.04 per 200,000 employee hours in 2010. The national average for last year was 3.72 per 200,000 employee hours.
Arch, the second largest US operator and a top-five global producer and marketer, sold 179 million tons of coal last year.
It has a total of 24 mining complexes across all the major US coal basins, with mines in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.