CLINTWOOD — Could water from old coal mines become an incentive that attracts data center projects to far Southwest Virginia?

The GO Virginia Region One Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to funding for Project Oasis, which would explore that unusual concept.

The project aims to validate why this region could become Virginia’s location of choice for data centers, according to a summary provided to the council. Among questions to explore is whether facilities could be located near old mine sites and use mine water to circulate through equipment cooling systems.

Doing so could significantly reduce project costs and give Region One a unique advantage in attracting projects, the proposal asserts.

The project would work with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to create an inventory of possible data center sites.

The Region One council approved a $50,000 funding request, which will next be considered by the statewide GO Virginia board at its Sept. 10 meeting.

The project has received initial support from Wise County, Norton and the new Lonesome Pine Rural Industrial Facilities Authority, which includes those localities along with Lee, Scott and Dickenson counties.

If the proposal gets state board approval, a study will begin in September, with a final report due in February 2020.

GO Virginia is an initiative by business leaders “to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government,” according to its website. Region One stretches from Lee County to Grayson and Wythe counties and Galax.

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