November 23, 2021
Bevill State Community College (BSCC) was honored with the prestigious Alabama Mining Association (AMA) 2021 Safety & Sustainability Award for Exceptional Safety & Training Initiative at a ceremony held at The Club in Birmingham, AL on Tuesday, November 16, 2021. The College received this distinction for the longwall training expansion to the simulated underground mine which is a part of the Alabama Mining Academy located on the Sumiton Campus.
The AMA Safety & Sustainability Award for Exceptional Safety & Training Initiative highlights a safety or training initiative that demonstrates the mining industry’s unwavering commitment to protecting the health and well-being of its employees. In assessing applicants for this award, judges considered the following: 1) Is this a proactive or innovative approach to mine safety or training?; 2) How much foresight or research was required to develop this initiative?; and, 3) What are the long-term health and safety benefits of this initiative? The award was hand carved by the renowned sculptor Craigger Browne using Alabama Marble.
For decades, the Alabama Mining Academy has provided new miner training and annual refresher training for all segments of Alabama's mining industry. The College's underground new miner training program utilizes a simulated mine, which allows new miners to experience conditions similar to an underground mine.
In 2019, the Alabama Legislature appropriated $950,000 to fund the expansion of the underground mine training center. The expansion provided the space to add longwall mining equipment to the facility, which was donated by the mining industry. As a result of this expansion, the Alabama Mining Academy at Bevill State is now home to one of the most advanced underground miner training programs in the nation.
The program will allow new miners to gain hands-on training that will help prepare them for a high-wage job at one of Alabama's three underground met coal mining companies. All of the underground met coal mines in Alabama utilize modern longwall mining technology, which is a highly automated and efficient mining process. Longwall mining equipment is highly sophisticated and costs over $100 million dollars. The expanded mine training center will help new miners learn how to safely work around this specialized electrical and hydraulic equipment.
Met coal, which is a special type of coal used to make primary steel, accounts for 80% of the coal produced in Alabama. Virtually all of the met coal produced in Alabama is exported through the Port of Mobile to steelmakers around the world. Worldwide demand for Alabama's premium met coal is expected to grow, increasing the demand for new underground miners, which earn a starting salary around $85,000 per year.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the Alabama Mining Association for Bevill State’s work to continue to educate and improve mining safety. We are grateful to Senator Greg Reed, our legislators, and those in the mining industry that supported the development of the longwall expansion to our mine safety program. I would also like to mention Bevill State’s Director of Workforce Solutions, Ken Russell, for his dedication in overseeing this project since its inception,” stated Bevill State Community College President, Dr. Joel Hagood.
About Bevill State Community College (BSCC)
Bevill State Community College is a public, two-year "open door" institution, committed to providing comprehensive education and educational support services for people in West Central Alabama and beyond. Bevill State is a member of the Alabama Community College System. Bevill State's four main campuses, and one instructional site, offer university parallel and applied technology educational opportunities to over one-quarter million people in a seven-county area. This service area spans over 4,600 square miles, from the Birmingham city limits to the Mississippi state line.