By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

Springtime in Appalachia means prep plant operators and equipment suppliers will be making their way to Lexington for the annual Coal Prep show. For the first time this year, the International Coal Preparation Exhibition & Conference (Coal Prep) will be held in conjunction with the International Coal Prep Conference (ICPC). For 26 years, Coal Prep has offered consistent quality programming that includes educational sessions on all aspects of coal preparation and the largest trade show exhibit geared toward coal preparation. Similarly, ICPC produces a conference covering all aspects of coal beneficiation from all over the world. The difference is that it is held every four years at a different host country. This year, America is the host country.

For those that have attended the Coal Prep conference sessions in the past, they will notice some changes. Instead of offering its normal technical program, Coal Prep will hold a series of workshops geared toward plant managers and maintenance technicians. Attendees looking for more technical content will want to participate in the ICPC conference. The conference will kick off Monday (April 26, 2010) with an Opening Ceremony as opposed to the usual Tuesday morning Keynote. With parallel concurrent sessions, delegates may want to browse through the program before they arrive at the Lexington Convention Center.

On the exhibit side, the program has also changed. In addition to having about 10% more floor space occupied, the exhibits will open Monday evening to give the ICPC delegates a preview prior to the traditional opening Tuesday morning. Also, the cocktail reception that more recently has been held Tuesday evening in the rotunda has been moved to the third floor of the Lexington Center to accommodate what is anticipated to be a much larger and lively crowd.

To put the ICPC’s influence on Coal Prep 2010 into perspective, Coal Prep normally attracted about 2,000 people. Show organizers are expected turnout to reach 2,500. Likewise, nearly 260 companies will exhibit equipment and services. That is the largest number of exhibitors and this will be largest show to date, according to the show organizers. Normally, the exhibit would include a little more than 200 companies.

What is the ICPC?
The ICPC has been held every four years at some major coal producing country around the world. It was started as an offshoot of the Marshall Plan to help the European coal industry get back ‘on its feet’ after World War II. It has become the forum for the introduction of all new coal preparation technologies to the industry.

The current emphasis of the program is the anticipated rapid expansion of coal preparation in India, the ongoing rapid expansion of coal preparation in China, the upgrading of low rank coals, the increased activity and demand for steam coal as well as metallurgical coal in the international market, and the use of the more economical pre-combustion technologies (i.e., coal preparation technologies) to address the environmental aspects of coal combustion (ash, sulfur, mercury, trace metals, etc).

This year, the ICPC will be held in the U.S. for the first time since 1966. The Coal Preparation Society of America (CPSA) and the International Organizing Committee of the ICPC will serve as the hosts. The congress consists of a technical program with 120 presentations in two parallel sessions with instantaneous translations into Chinese and Russian. The ICPC also has a social program to introduce delegates to their peers.

The ICPC’s objective is to provide a forum where coal preparation professionals from around the world can meet regularly and freely exchange ideas/tech-
nologies. To accomplish this, the ICPC blends technical programs with numerous social events. In recent years the technical program has increased in size to enhance participation.

The concept of the ICPC was developed through the Allied Coal Commission which was an offshoot of the Marshall Plan for redeveloping Europe. The objective was to assist the countries in Europe in re-establishing their coal industry recognizing that the coal mines in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany had been devastated by the war. The first International Organizing Committee consisted of members from Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The first ICPC was held in 1950. Organized by France (Charbonnage