The other win­ners are the Col­orado School of Mines, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, Uni­ver­sity of California-​​Berkeley, Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago, and the uni­ver­si­ties of Ken­tucky, Utah, Pitts­burgh, Ari­zona and Connecticut.

Vir­ginia Tech will work on through-​​the-​​earth com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems and a new risk-​​management approach to safety, while WVU will work on safety sys­tems at sur­face mines and mobile equip­ment tech­nology training.

Jim Dean, director of mining and indus­trial exten­sion at WVU, said that between 2000 and 2010, nearly 800 under­ground coal miners were injured and 16 were killed in acci­dents involving shuttle cars and scoops. Most occurred because the oper­ator was unaware someone was nearby.

Cam­eras and prox­imity detec­tors can help reduce acci­dents, Dean said, but without proper training, oper­a­tors may have the ten­dency to rely too heavily on the technology.

For more than 100 years, WVU has been training not only the next gen­er­a­tion of mining engi­neers, but also offering training and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams for miners already working in the industry,” said Gene Cilento, dean of the Statler Col­lege of Engi­neering and Min­eral Resources. “Their safety is of our utmost concern.”

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity will focus on whole-​​body vibra­tion expo­sure and injury pre­ven­tion at open-​​pit coal mines, while UC-​​Berkeley will focus on heart dis­ease and lung cancer deaths linked to par­tic­u­late matter and diesel exhaust.

The foun­da­tion aims to fill gaps and over­comer bar­riers to sci­en­tific research, not dupli­cate existing work. It was formed under a $210 mil­lion set­tle­ment between the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice and Virginia-​​based Alpha Nat­ural Resources after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.

Read the article at The Washington Post →