Officials from West Virginia University joined industry and other state government officials this past Friday to dedicate the university’s newest addition, a simulated underground coal mine that will be used to train mine rescue teams, new miners and others about the conditions in underground operations.

New WVU President Clements and other WVU officials officially dedicated the football field-sized facility in a grand opening ceremony.

The new facility is one of the largest ever constructed and offers integrated live fire training, a unique feature that sets it apart from other similar facilities. It will be used in training mine rescue teams, fire brigade teams, new miners, and others, many of whom will also be on hand for the dedication.

This impressive facility is 340 feet long by 110 feet wide, and set up inside much like an actual coal mine, with a state-of-the-art burn facility inside and the capability to provide live fire training.

The facility will be used for training new miners, mine foreman, mine rescue teams, mine fire brigades, and for other specialized training.

Major funding for the facility came from the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training and the West Virginia Division of Energy. Donations of equipment and materials came from Alpha Natural Resources, Consol Energy, HSC Industrial, Joy Continental Product Line, Murray Energy, and Patriot Coal.

With multiple entryways and crosscuts, the simulated mine is divided into passageways, chambers, and rooms that resemble those in an actual mine. Hallways are filled with equipment and structures found in mines. It also includes a state-of-the art burn area for training mine rescue teams and fire brigades.

"The experience of an individual coming there for training will be as close as possible to an actual underground coal mine," said Dean. "The capability to provide live fire training truly sets it apart from other such facilities."

The Department of Mining Extension has provided training for the coal industry since 1913, and currently trains more than 5,000 new and experienced coal miners each year - from new miners seeking apprentice certification to experienced personnel seeking specialized training. 

The department provides a wide range of training programs for underground and surface mining - from new-miner training to SCSR (self-contained self-rescuer) training, mine rescue training, first responder training, fire brigade training, EMT certification for coal mining, foreman/fireboss training, electrical training, and others.

Experienced instructors provide on-site teaching throughout the major coal-producing region of West Virginia as well as in nearby Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

Contact: Susan Case, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, 304-293-4086,