Southeastern Illinois College (SIC) and Illinois Eastern Community College (IECC) have announced plans to construct a coal mine safety training simulation facility in Southern Illinois.
The colleges have secured around $380,000 in grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The funds will be provided through the Coal Competitiveness Grant, according to thesouthern.com.
The coal mining simulator will feature an imitation-smoke system, thermal imaging and night vision cameras, as well as a control centre where coordinators can monitor how workers deal with underground situations.
To be built on SIC’s Harrisburg campus, the 80ft by 120ft facility will have gravel floors and dark metal walls.
According to preliminary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 633 deaths occured in the natural resources and mining industry in 2013.
IECC dean of workforce education Mike Thoma said: "The emphasis with [federal regulators] is for miners to understand what they’re supposed to be doing in case of emergency, and this will allow them to set-up the actual situation without being in harm’s way."
Simulation controllers will be able to fill the space with fake smoke through an exhaust system, allowing miners to practice operating in disaster and emergency conditions.
Construction of the new coal mining simulator is due to start soon.