Coal mining is still a big deal in Illinois, and Terry Bruce says there's really no end in sight. “One third of Illinois coal is now exported to other countries,” he says. “We can't burn it so much in Illinois, but we can export it, and it's exported largely to China.” Bruce, a five-term congressman representing Eastern Illinois in the 1980s and 90s, is chief executive of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, which helped break ground Tuesday on a mine simulator.
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Bruce says it will be a place for professional miners to gain training in how to respond to emergencies. The project includes a $220,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The simulator, at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, is going to be the only one of its kind west of West Virginia, Bruce says.