VINCENNES - Vincennes University has begun training at the state's only underground mining simulation center. The $2 million facility, located at the university's Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics, opened in May and is expected to attract miners from throughout the Midwest.

The university says construction on the 40,000 square-foot facility was approved in 2016 after receiving funding in the state budget. The mock mine is modeled after a simulated underground mine facility at West Virginia University.

VU is the state's designated recipient of funding from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"VU provides MSHA training to thousands of miners annually. This new facility will add to our capacity to do that training," said VU President Chuck Johnson. "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."

Vincennes launched its mining program in 2005 and says, through on-site and off-site instruction, has provided training for more than 4,600 miners thus far in 2017. Denzil Huges, supervisor for Educational Field and Small Mine Services for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, says the university's classroom training is already one of the best in the region and the addition of the simulation center will make VU's training "limitless."

The mining program provides the required training for new underground and surface miners, as well as required annual refresher training for all miners.