The West Virginia Coal Association joined the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute to sponsor a special program for mining professionals on April 19-20, at the Marriott at Waterfront Place in Morgantown.

The event, in its third decade, had about 80 people in attendance. The program is designed to engage and inform mining professionals on developing technologies, mine safety and environmental programs, and emerging threats and challenges facing the industry. The agenda featured special guest speakers as well as a variety of technical presentations during the two-day program.

West Virginia Coal Association President Chris Hamilton was the opening speaker. He applauded the WVU Department of Mining Engineering for hosting the program and “for stepping forward to showcase their fossil energy assets and everything they are doing to preserve and protect coal mining in West Virginia.”

“West Virginia remains the energy state,” Hamilton said. “The university experts from the Energy Institute to the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources to the Mining Extension Service, are working around the clock and exhausting the intellectual expertise of the University and its resources to develop workable solutions and beneficial uses for carbon and to stimulate growth in West Virginia’s fossil energy and in particular, in-state coal operations.”

The keynote address was given by George Schuller, chief operations officer of Compass Minerals. He praised the safety practices in West Virginia mines. He added that mining needs to improve by diversifying, which he said he is beginning to see. This could have benefits for the industry’s future, he added.

The West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame, a joint initiative between the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute and the West Virginia Coal Association and housed at the WVU Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in Morgantown, inducted its newest class of honorees at the event.

This year’s honorees include R. Donald Cussins, former President of Buffalo Coal Company; Pramod Thakur, President of Expert Solutions for Mine Safety and longtime senior executive for CONSOL Energy, LLC; Doug Hardman, former Vice Chairman, J.H. Fletcher & Co.; and George Schuller, President of Peabody Australia and Chief Operating Officer of Compass Minerals.

This is the 24th class of inductees for the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame, which began in 1998.

“These individuals are mining industry trailblazers who have led industry-wide innovations and advancements in coal mine extractive techniques, mine safety programs, land restoration and philanthropy over the course of their long careers,” Hamilton said. “They have had an incredibly positive impact on the coal industry and the state of West Virginia and are absolutely deserving of this honor.”