CHARLESTON (AP) — A West Virginia company is working on a piece of equipment designed to keep miners safer.
Trinity Resources, headquartered in Putnam County, demonstrated its a mobile mine safety chamber this week at the West Virginia Mining Symposium in Charleston.
The company has been working on the project for about three years, said Terry Hicks, chief operating officer.
The device resembles a big steel box on bulldozer tracks and is designed to keep underground miners safe in the event of an explosion or collapse.
“Our motive is to create the safest possible safe house for the miners,” said Pastor Jack Henry, Trinity Resources’ chief executive officer.
Current regulations require mine safety chambers be placed within 1,000 feet of where the miners are working. But the safety chambers must be moved with another piece of equipment, and that, Hicks said, can cause problems.
The Daily Mail reports that the aptly named Guardian Angel sits on two bulldozer-like tracks that propel the chamber into the mine. The front and back of the mobile chamber can be raised or lowered nine inches to traverse inclines and declines in the mine.
The device contains enough oxygen to keep 15 miners alive for up to four days. Food, first aid gear and water also can be placed under the floor panels in the chamber. And it’s also equipped with a toilet.
The steel box also is reinforced with steel tubing and can withstand temperatures of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit with the temperature inside the device not exceeding 90 degrees.
Hicks said the company officials plan on manufacturing the chambers at plants in Nitro and Eleanor. The company currently employs about 10 people in its fabrication shop in Eleanor where the prototype chamber was built. That number will probably expand by 25 to 30 people at the Eleanor and Nitro plants once orders begin flowing in, Henry said.
The Guardian Angel currently meets all of the 2018 federal regulations, and the company is ready to start taking orders for the chambers.
The company would not comment on the Guardian Angel’s price tag, but said it is negotiating with some companies right now for the devices.