Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval; Denise Johnson, MINExpo chair and group president for resource industries at Caterpillar; Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Contura Energy; Phillips S. Baker, president and CEO of Hecla Mining Co., Douglas Hardman, vice chairman, J.H. Fletcher & Co., and Hal Quinn, president and CEO of NMA, opened the show with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The large number people participating in MINExpo were a testament to the significant role that mining plays in the U.S. and around the world,” Quinn said. He explained that, in the U.S., mines accounted for more than 565,000 direct jobs, which provided about $100 billion in payroll in 2015.

Thousands of people attended the opening session. The theme was the Global Outlook for mining, and Fox News analyst Nina Easton moderated a panel of executives including: a U.S. copper miner, Red Conger with Freeport McMoRan; a U.S. gold miner, Gary Goldberg with Newmont Mining Corp.; a U.S. silver miner, Phillips Baker from Hecla; a U.S. coal operator, Kevin Crutchfield from Contura Energy, and a U.S. mining equipment manufacturer, Ted Doheny with Joy Global. The discussion touched on everything from technology to industry disruption to the difficulties with the public policy environment for mining. As one would expect, the coal operator, who had recently emerged from bankruptcy, and the equipment maker were the least optimistic. The precious metals miners were cautiously optimistic. In general, they offered a realistic outlook for commodity markets for 2017 and beyond, which was positive.

At two awards luncheons, the NMA also recognized 26 mining operations for exemplary and innovative service in mine safety, reclamation and environmental performance and community outreach. In a year when so many wondered how challenging industry trends would impact the event, all of the exhibitors with which E&MJ spoke said they were pleasantly surprised with the turn out. These photos are brief highlights collected from E&MJ editors on the show floor. Over the course of the next six months, these topics will be discussed in more detail.

Equipment-wise, the biggest surprise was the Autonomous Haulage Vehicle (AHV) at the Komatsu booth. The cabless vehicle attracted crowds. Komatsu said it had developed it exclusively as an unmanned vehicle with plans for a market introduction “in the near future.” By distributing equal load to the four wheels both when the vehicle is loaded and unloaded, and adopting four-wheel drive retarder and steering, Komatsu is aiming for high-performance shuttling of this vehicle in both forward and reverse travel directions, thereby totally eliminating the need for K-turns at loading and unloading sites. The 2,700-hp AHV has a nominal gross vehicle weight of 416 metric tons (mt) and a nominal payload of 230 mt. Measuring 15-m long and 8.5-m wide, it has a maximum speed of 64 km/hr and a turning radius of 15.9 m.