By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

Coming off the heels of an incredibly successful conference and exhibition last year, one would think the Coal Prep show organizers would pause to catch their breath. That’s not the case though. Last year, Coal Prep coordinated activities with the International Coal Preparation Congress (ICPC). The move attracted coal processing professionals from around the world to what is the largest coal preparation conference and exhibition. Topping that feat attendance-wise would be almost impossible, but Coal Prep organizers have managed to sustain the forward momentum.

What sets the Coal Prep conference apart from other trade shows is dependability. The conference portion of the trade show is second to none. Whether a delegate is an experienced plant superintendent or a freshly minted marketer, both will find educational value at Coal Prep. Equipment and service providers get a chance to mingle with decision makers from coal companies. A spring ritual of sorts for coal processing professionals, the event takes place every year just before the Kentucky Derby.

“We have retained some of the international participation on the show floor,” said Sam Posa, sales manager-Coal Prep, Penton. “Registration figures are on target to meet last year’s level without the ICPC. Total attendance is expected to exceed 2,200. Last year, the exhibition had 250 stands.”

If success were measured by the number of exhibitors, then Coal Prep 2011, which takes place May 2-5, 2011, at Heritage Hall in Lexington, Ky., would be the most successful conference in the event’s 28-year history. To accommodate the more than 40 new exhibitors, the show organizers had to add a second hall in Rupp Arena. Delegates can expect to see more than 285 companies that provide equipment and services for coal preparation.

“We contracted earlier this year for more space in Rupp Arena anticipating the growth,” said Posa. “That growth has continued at a record pace. There are a significant number of companies that will warrant a visit into the Rupp Arena.”

Some old timers might remember the last time Coal Prep used Rupp Arena (1988). “This is 2011 and we have reached critical mass,” Posa said. One of the new features for the exhibit this year, the Safety Pavilion, will be located in Rupp Arena. Penton plans to use plenty of signage to direct delegates from Heritage Hall to the adjoining Rupp Arena. The organizers plan to host a custom motorcycle giveaway in that hall, along with a lounge area. In addition to the two halls, Coal Prep will also have two outside displays.

Sort of Back to Normal
Prior to the ICPC, the conference portion of Coal Prep consisted of a technical program with four sessions of four or five presenters, a workshop, and a dignitary delivering a Keynote address. The show organizers have retained much of that, with a few added twists.

The conference officially kicks off Tuesday (May 3, 2011) with the Keynote Address: “The Coal Industry’s Regulatory Minefield,” by Luke Popovich, vice president, communications, National Mining Association. In addition to his day-to-day duties of fighting the good fight for the coal industry in Washing, D.C., he also authors a monthly column for Coal Age (See Dateline Washington, p. 18).

The show organizers took the tradition program and added a few more activities and a couple of sessions related peripherally to coal beneficiation. One session focuses on safety while another addresses engineered coal. Instead of one workshop, this year the technical session basically has concurrent workshops with the sessions.

With the success of the operator workshops in 2010, the Coal Prep Society of America (CPSA) will offer four new operator workshops in 2011. The Operator Workshops will offer basic, user-friendly courses for foremen, supervisors and operators who oversee plant operations. Industry experts will discuss a variety of equipment types and how they operate, applications, capacities, operating parameters and maintenance tips. Workshop topics include Instrumentation and PLC Control, Thickeners & Filter Presses, Jigs and Rising Current Classifiers and Crushers.

Working with EH&S Today, a safety-related trade journal, Penton organized a session to address safety topics. The idea coincides with the safety pavilion on the show floor with 10 companies exhibiting their services Tuesday afternoon. The general safety session is Sustainable Safety Cultures, chaired by Harry Mathis, founder and CEO, ProAct Safety. In the early afternoon on Wednesday, another general session will debate Engineered Coal—Can Engineering and Technology Achieve Environmental and Efficiency Requirements for Utility and Industrial Consumers in Today’s Market.

Coal Prep has always offered some of the most comprehensive educational programming on coal preparation technology. It provides a unique opportunity to hear about the latest industry-specific information and see the products in action. Prior to the official opening of the show on Monday afternoon, Coal Prep will host a workshop on Instrumentation and PLC Control.

On Tuesday afternoon, following the Keynote Address, a Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) official will teach an annual impoundment recertification course. Another workshop will instruct delegates on Jigs and Rising Current Classifiers. The first session of the technical program with have four presentations on Coal Preparation Research & Development. The afternoon will close with the safety session.

Wednesday morning opens with a workshop on thickeners and filter presses. The technical program has a session on advancements in coal processing. Following the engineered coal session, the traditional technical program has a session discussing plant productivity and maintenance follows along with two workshops: crushers and coal handling. On Thursday morning, the technical program closes with a session covering current practices in coal refuse disposal.

This year there seems to be a little more emphasis on refuse dewatering and handling and with the workshops, the discussion will be more equipment related. Posa acknowledged the role that CPSA played in organizing the program and expressed his gratitude.

Social Activities
In addition to learning, Coal Prep is a great place for professionals to network and Penton has organized a luncheon to meet this need specifically. “The networking luncheon is included with the platinum registration and delegates can register for it separately,” Posa said. “We are bringing people together in an informal setting to have lunch and exchange ideas in the Thoroughbred pre-function room.”

Coal Prep is also raffling a Harley. A total of 11 companies have sponsored the Custom Coal Prep 2011 motorcycle sweepstakes. All registered attendees will be given a passport at registration that will require them to visit the sponsor booths to get a special stamp. Completed passports will be then put into a bin for the grand drawing that will take place Thursday, May 5, during the show. “The motorcycle is being custom built in Lexington for Coal Prep and is supposed to have a coal theme,” Posa said.