This month, it's buying its first cascading oxygen system--similar to what firefighters use--to give miners an uninterrupted supply of air while trying to escape. Alpha expects to eventually spend at least $10 million on that technology.
It's also hired a company to develop wireless sensors that can check for methane in a mine, Goodwin said. They will be in place in every Alpha mine by next year.
The investments come even as Alpha loses money. Last month, it posted a first-quarter loss of $29.1 million due to weak demand for coal and rising costs.
Alpha also says it implemented plans to ensure coal dust accumulations are properly treated and has a system for monitoring results.
But problems remain.
Earlier this month, MSHA issued citations and enforcement orders at Alpha's Road Fork No. 1 in Wyoming County, where a conveyor belt caught fire.
Inspectors found inoperable smoke detectors and fire suppression systems, and accumulations of coal dust as deep as 18 inches. MSHA said managers charged with safety inspections failed to report or record obvious safety hazards, or fix those they did list.
The conditions were similar to those in another Massey disaster. In January 2006, two West Virginia miners died in a fire at Aracoma Coal Co.'s Alma No. 1 mine.
Goodwin and Ruby said they're monitoring the Road Fork investigation.
"We don't mean to paint that everything's coming up roses," Goodwin said. "They still have room to improve."
But he said that after lengthy conversations with Alpha leadership, he's confident of its corporate resolve to change Massey's ways.
It's noteworthy, Ruby added, that after the settlement, "there was a wholesale house cleaning of the executive ranks of Massey.
"That factors into our thinking about the tone at the top," he said.
Ruby declined to detail how deep that process went, saying it's among the information Alpha considers commercially sensitive.
Goodwin said the settlement had three objectives--addressing systemic problems at Massey, advancing state-of-the-art technology and making clear "that shortchanging mine safety is bad business."
Progress so far, he said, "shows the chance we took entering a resolution of this nature was a good chance to take."