July 29, 2011

International Mining Conference Returns to Monongalia County


CHEAT LAKE — More than 300 people from 13 countries are in Cheat Lake this week to discuss safe mining practices, here and around the world.The participants came from as far away as Poland, South Africa, and Australia. They’re all countries with cultures of mining safety, working together for the same goal.

“The goal of everyone in that room is zero fatalities,” said conference co-chair Tom Barczak of NIOSH.

That’s hard to accomplish when miners are moving tons of ground to get to coal and other resources.

Ground control failures are the leading cause of mining fatalities. Solving that problem means understanding the ground they’re mining and devising safety measures to fit each condition.

“Failures underground can be caused by bumps, pillar failures, roof support failures subsidence related issues,” Barczak said.

That’s why it’s the main topic for mine operators, suppliers, and researchers. The companies are here to share information, practices, and technology.

“We’re competitors the rest of the year,” co-chair Steven Tadolini with Minova International Mining said, “but when we come to this conference we all try to work together for the health and safety of the mine worker.”

The conference, now in it’s 30th year was started by a West Virginia University professor and the continuing role WVU and the Mountain State play in mining makes it a natural meeting place for mine experts.

“We want to do it safely, we want to do it right, and that’s why we all work on these problems together,” Tadolini said.

Mining officials there say fatalities are at a 30 year low, but there is still plenty of work left to be done.

The conference continues through Friday.

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