Vincennes Details Underground Mining Center

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The underground mining center will be located at VU's Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics. The underground mining center will be located at VU's Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics.

Vincennes University is planning what it believes is a facility unlike anything else in the country. The school has announced plans for a more than $2 million underground mining simulation center. The underground nature of the facility is what makes it unique. Vice President for Finance and Government Relations Phillip Rath says it will not only enhance the level of training for professionals in the coal industry and help cut down on employee turnover.

Rath says the center will give prospective miners an accurate representation of the industry before they commit to a career they may not be cut out for.

Despite the loss of hundreds of coal-related jobs in the state in recent years, he says a great work force training need remains. "Clean coal technology is here. A lot of things can change. It could be the election, it could be the EPA requirements on natural gas power generation. What's going to happen with fracking down the future? If fracking becomes an issue due to the EPA standards, then your fallback is going to be the coal industry. And so, quite frankly, I see the down-cycle, but I think it will level-out. And I also see in the future that we could see an up-cycle, which would be great for Indiana."

The 40,000 square-foot center will be built by Jasper-based Krempp Construction Inc. and be located at the university's Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics. Funding came through the state.

A key feature is the mock mine's versatility. VU President Chuck Johnson says "in addition to coal, this new center will be useful for other types of mining as well as for fire and rescue training and VU's Homeland Security and Law Enforcement programs." He adds "VU provides MSHA training to thousands of miners annually. This new facility will add to our capacity to do that training." It is modeled after a facility at West Virginia University that is located above ground. VU expects its center to draw miners and students from Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. 

Construction is expected to get underway soon and will take seven months.

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