Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register

West-virginia-encyclopedia-text

SharePrint Department of Mines

Mhstlogo_medium

Renamed the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training in 1991, the Department of Mines was created early in the 20th century to strengthen enforcement of the state’s mine safety laws. Its duties today are to inspect all mining-related sites, train and certify mine employees, investigate all serious accidents, and maintain health and safety data related to mining. In addition to the main Charleston office, there are regional offices in Westover, Oak Hill, and Welch. In 2020, it opened the state-of-the-art West Virginia Training and Conference Center at Julian, Boone County.

Although commercial coal mining had existed in present West Virginia since the first half of the 19th century, the first state mine safety laws were not enacted until 1883. That year, the legislature required the appointment of a state mine inspector, whose job was to see that mines were properly drained and ventilated. A bill providing for better ventilation in the mines had been first introduced in the legislature in 1875. State laws were strengthened in 1887, the year following the Mountain Brook mine disaster that claimed 39 lives in Preston County. The 1887 legislation created a position of chief mine inspector and set up four inspection districts. Mining laws were also printed in book form for the first time.

The Department of Mines was created in 1905. In 1919, the legislature provided for the establishment of mine rescue stations to train personnel in rescue and first-aid work. By 1929, the department had 25 inspectors and three inspectors at large, with an annual budget of $191,040, not including the salary of the chief of the department. In 1985, the department was merged into a new Department of Energy, later renamed the Division of Energy. The current Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training was established as part of a reorganization of the Division of Energy. It is now part of the Department of Commerce.

The policies and procedures of the mine agency have been updated through the years to keep pace with changes in the coal industry, including advances in technology and mining practices. Current mining statutes are set forth in Chapter 22A of the West Virginia Code.

In 2021, the agency made 3,978 inspections at mines, quarries, and coal-handling facilities and 975 inspections of independent companies contracted to do work at mine sites.

This Article was written by Larry Sonis

Last Revised on March 07, 2023

Related Articles


Cite This Article

Sonis, Larry "Department of Mines." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 07 March 2023. Web. 14 April 2024.

Comments?

There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2024 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.