Leading U.S. coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources has announced the opening of the Running Right Leadership Academy, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art education and training facility for mine safety and operations located in Julian, West Virginia. All Alpha employees will take instruction at the facility to complement their current guidance programs.

Alpha Resources CEO Kevin Crutchfield hailed the “scale and scope” of the facility, citing it as a first in the coal mining business. “The success of our company and industry starts with safety,” said Crutchfield. “Our aim is to improve employee safety and performance so we move to zero safety related incidents.”

Alpha invested $23 million into the project and its broad-ranging curriculum with a focus on technical, safety and leadership skills. On a 136,000-ft campus with classroom space for 300 people, the academy will help underground miners, surface miners and support personnel while featuring a 96,000-sq-ft lab simulating mine situations and labs for electrical, welding and maintenance skills training.

Other technologies, including air flow sensors and multigas handheld detectors, a command center for mine rescue and emergency preparedness training and facilities, will also be available. Virtual simulators allowing participants to operate mining machines, roof bolters, scoop and haul trucks, meanwhile, will also include real-time performance feedback.