With more than 300 industry representatives in attendance, and featuring local, state, and federal dignitaries, the West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA) held its 49th Annual West Virginia Mining Symposium April 18-19 in Charleston, West Virginia. 

“While the industry is strong today, the Biden Administration and national liberal forces continue their efforts daily to remove coal from America’s energy portfolio,” said Chris Hamilton, president and CEO, WVCA. “We need all Friends of Coal to engage with us to let them know West Virginia’s mining industry is indispensable for providing reliable electricity, national security, and the steel that builds this country.” 

The symposium drew wide participation from all sectors of the mining industry and provided an opportunity for the industry to discuss current domestic and international marketing and production trends, while showcasing new mining and mine safety technologies.

Governor Jim Justice, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety Chris Williamson, State Senator Randy Smith, and other prominent officials addressed the conference.

John Deskins, Director of the WVU Bureau for Business & Economic Research, presented the findings of a new study outlining the impact of metallurgical coal production in West Virginia. The study found that U.S. steel production that uses West Virginia metallurgical (met) coal generated approximately $186 billion in total economic activity in the United States in 2019. Additionally, West Virginia is the leading producer of met coal nationally and supplied nearly 63% of all the met coal distributed to U.S. coke plants.

“This study showcases the incredible importance and the national reliance on West Virginia-produced met coal. Without the coal our miners produce right here in West Virginia our country would be forced to import this critical ingredient for making the steel that builds, defends, and supports America,” Hamilton said.

Additionally, the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame inducted five new members during a dinner on the evening of April 18th. Honorees included: H. Douglas Dahl, retired CEO/president, Peabody Coal; Eddie Asbury, president, Southern Minerals, Inc.; Paul A. Lang, president and CEO, Arch Resources, Inc.; Stanley C. Suboleski, senior VP, Massey, LC; Thomas M. Wynne, senior VP/COO, Alliance Resources. 

During the Symposium, the association recognized and celebrated exemplary mine safety and environmental excellence achievements of mining industry operations across the state. Numerous mining companies and mining operations were recognized.

In the safety category, top honors went to Blackhawk Mining, Panther Creek Mining, and American Eagle mine for earning the Eustace E. Fredrick Milestone Award. Alpha Metallurgical Resources’ Republic Energy LLC Workman Creek Surface Mine and Cleveland Cliffs’ Princeton Coal Blue Eagle Surface Mine earned the Bart B. Lay Milestone of Safety Award.

In the environmental category, the top award — the Greenlands Award — went to Pocahontas Coal Co.’s Tommy Creek Highwall No. 2 Mine.