More than 150 exhibitors will display mining equipment and technology at the Brushfork Armory. (Photo: Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias)

Organizers expect thousands to attend regional coal show

by steve fiscor, editor-in-chief

After a 1-year postponement, the Bluefield Coal & Mining Show will take place September 14-16, 2022, at the Brushfork Armory in Bluefield, West Virginia. The biennial event is usually held in September during the odd-numbered years, but last year’s show was postponed when the National Mining Association announced it would move MINExpo 2020 to September 2021. Today, COVID-19 concerns are manageable and people are looking forward to seeing each other in person again and kicking the tires on new equipment.

The theme for the 2022 Bluefield Coal & Mining Show is “A Show for Mining: Our Past, Present, Future.” The event caters to regional coal operators, who mostly cut coal from underground operations. Manufacturers usually display a substantial amount of low-profile equipment for room-and-pillar mining in low coal seams. In the past, as many as 6,000 people have attended the 3-day event.

There will likely be some noticeable changes between this year’s event and the 2019 event. The market has turned in favor of coal producers since the last event and the overall mood should be much more upbeat. Southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Virginia are bustling with activity. From an equipment supplier’s perspective, Caterpillar’s exit from the underground coal business has opened opportunities for other suppliers. In the wake of the decision, Cat divvied up its underground coal offering among several suppliers and this will be their first opportunity to shine.

The organizers, the Chamber of Commerce for the Two Virginias, added the term “& Mining” to the show’s name. It was previously the Bluefield Coal Show. With no metal mining operations in the region, one can only surmise that this is an attempt by the organizers to diversify into the aggregates business.

 As of press time, the Bluefield Coal & Mining Show had nearly 150 exhibitors. In a press release earlier this year, the organizers said they had exhibitors representing 17 states and Canada. The organizers will host a keynote presentation from David Stetson, CEO, Alpha Metallurgical Resources, during the Media Appreciation breakfast on September 14, followed by the official opening of the show.

Keynote speaker David Stetson, CEO, Alpha Metallurgical Resources. (Photo: AMR)

Stetson to Open the Show

Bob Ramsey, chairman of the Bluefield Coal & Mining Show, recently announced that Stetson would open the show. “We are delighted to have the show opened by David Stetson of Alpha, who will provide his unique perspective of the American coal industry when he addresses us at the breakfast. His presentation will be of great interest to everyone at a time when there is certainly, a renewed focus on the industry,” said Bob Ramsey, president of Peters Equipment and Ramsey Industrial, family-owned companies. 

In addition to his role as CEO, Stetson is also chair of Alpha’s board of directors. Alpha rebranded in February of 2021 from its prior company name of Contura Energy and Stetson previously served on Contura Energy’s Board of Directors from November 2018 through April 2019. Before that, he served as chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Alpha Natural Resources from July 2016 until the merger with Contura in November 2018.

Stetson has extensive experience in management, finance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, restructuring, the law, and reclamation. He is the founder and most recent chairman of the Metallurgical Coal Producers Association (MCPA).

Bluefield Snapshot

While most exhibitors were playing it close to the vest as of press time, some did share their plans for the Bluefield Coal & Mining Show. J.H. Fletcher (Booths 1614, 1615) said it would be displaying roof bolting equipment, and Longwall Associates (Booths 1706, 1707) said it will also be on hand to discuss its original equipment manufacturing capabilities and its rebuild services.

Richwood Industries (Booths 111, 113) is bringing its Air Stop material containment system, which dramatically reduces the issues associated with airborne dust. Richwood was able to develop the solution by first identifying the root causes, explained Lorrie Spence, senior manager for corporate identity for Richwood Industries. “Anytime product is moving dust can be generated, especially when material is in free fall at a transfer area,” Spence said.

Traditional dust collection methods have included sprays or vacuum collection, but their performance has been less than ideal. “Richwood uses a passive dust containment system, which has a chambered dust-stilling system that allows the material to settle before it leaves the transfer area,” Spence said. “Each system is designed for the application and includes establishing correct belt support to allow for the sealing components, a multi-layer approach for containing bulk materials and dust using external and internal liners, and dust curtains and stilling chambers as needed. The system has proven very effective in the field.”

Conn-Weld (Booths 304) will not be taking equipment to the Bluefield Coal & Mining Show, but they said they were excited to participate as an exhibitor.  Their stand will feature a visual impression of Conn-Weld’s history in the coal industry, captivating video of Conn-Weld’s process solutions in action, and a nod to the aggregate industry as well. Having served the coal industry for 47 years, Conn-Weld said it was grateful to the Chambers of the Two Virginias for providing this platform to network and reconnect with its ‘Friends of Coal.’ In addition, they also said they were glad to know that the aggregate industry would play a role in the event as well.

Jennmar (Booths 1704, 1705) said it would have a lot of products displayed at its stand, including props, cribs, bits, bolts, conveyors and ventilation equipment. Jennmar designs and manufactures a wide range of ground control products, from bolts and beams to channels and trusses, resin, rebar, and more. The company takes pride in providing products that make the mining industry safer and more efficient.

Because it understands the ever-changing and demanding conditions above and below ground, Jennmar said it has built the richest portfolio of diverse and complementary brands. Jennmar’s brand of affiliates includes engineering services, resin manufacturing, rolled-steel, and drill-steel manufacturing, carbide drill bits, custom steel fabrication, chemical roof support, and sealing products, and even includes staffing solutions and a trucking company.

Jennmar said it sets the bar in every industry it serves and, as it continues to grow, its focus will always be on the customer. The company feels it is essential to develop close working relationships with every customer to understand their unique challenges and ensure superior customer service. Jennmar said its commitment to the customer is guided by three words: safety, service and innovation.