Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 23, 2006

Coal industry converging on Bluefield this week

By CHARLES OWENS

BLUEFIELD — With a renewed emphasis on mine safety, several high profile coal industry figures will be arriving in Bluefield this week to kick-off the 2006 Bluefield Coal Symposium.

The symposium, which begins Wednesday and continues through Friday at the Holiday Inn of Bluefield, will focus on a central theme of safety and safety issues in the mining industry, Marc Meachum, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, said.

“Don Blankenship (chairman, president and CEO of Massey Energy) and Gov. Joe Manchin are both scheduled to be here,” Meachum said. “Some of the most prominent people in the mining industry, and some of the nationally known figures, will participate, particularly on Thursday. We are just looking forward to presenting this type of program in our area. We feel like it’s a great opportunity for people here to hear from these individuals that are so instrumental in our economy.”

The event, hosted by the chamber, also is scheduled to include presentations from several Sago Mine accident investigators, including Ray McKinney, Richard Gates, Mark Skiles and Allen Dupree of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Jeff Welsh of NIOSH, and Dr. R. Larry Grayson, chair of the national committee formed in the wake of the Sago Mine accident.

Other coal industry leaders scheduled to participate include Ronald G. Stovash, senior vice president of operations for CONSOL, who will be the luncheon speaker on Sept. 28; Dan Gerkin, senior vice president/government and political affairs for the National Mining Association; Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association; Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky Coal Association; Tommy Hudson, president of the Virginia Coal Association; and John Feddock, senior vice president of Marshall Miller & Associates.

Meachum said a report will also be made on the Sago mine tragedy.

“Somebody is definitely going to come and make the report,” Meachum said. “We anticipate that someone will come and make the national report on their investigation.”

Meachum said the opening day of the symposium Wednesday will include several exhibitors who will have table top displays Wednesday afternoon. A large reception also will be held Wednesday evening followed by a brief review of the Bluefield Coal Show by Charlie Peters. Blankenship will deliver the keynote address Wednesday evening.

“Thursday, there are meetings all day long, including morning and afternoon session with panel discussions,” Meachum said. “The speaker at lunch Thursday is Ron Stovash, senior vice president of operations for CONSOL. Another panel discussion will be Thursday afternoon. Thursday evening is a reception and dinner, and will feature Gov. Manchin as the keynote speaker.”

Manchin said all of the events will be held at the Holiday Inn.

“Friday morning we will have presentations from the West Virginia Coal Association, the Kentucky Coal Association and the Virginia Mining Association,” Meachum said. “They are always very well received.”

Meachum said Bill Reid, chairman of the symposium, has worked very hard to put together a great symposium.

Meachum said limited reservations for the symposium may still be available. Those interested are urged to contact the chamber as soon as possible.

– Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com