Alpha Natural Resources, a leading U.S. coal supplier, today announced the opening of the Running Right Leadership Academy, a state-of-the-art comprehensive education and training facility for mine safety and operations located in Julian, W.Va.
“The success of our company and industry starts with safety,” said Kevin Crutchfield, chairman and CEO of Alpha Natural Resources. “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.”
“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 which 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.
The Alpha Academy is a 136,000 square foot campus that includes classroom space for up to 300 people; 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. 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, which 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.
To commemorate the opening, Alpha is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony at the facility that will be attended by state and local elected officials, community leaders, employees and other business partners.