Most coal miners understand that, when high times arrive, it’s time to start saving because the market will eventually turn. The uphill side of the notorious boom-bust cycle is always the best and on the downhill side it seems that people work harder for less reward. Basically, coal companies load up to boost production and then, when the market turns, they look to make improvements in productivity. When this happens, management always reverts to cost-cutting measures.

The seasoned professionals in the coal business have seen the cycle repeat itself many times. They were the guys complaining about too inexperienced new hires and wasting materials six months ago. As the tide turns, engineers and mine managers routinely turn to equipment and technology to solve problems with efficiency. Where else can they gain an edge?

Coal Age has it covered. This year Mining Media offers two technical trade conferences: Haulage & Loading 2009, which takes place May 17-20, 2009, in Phoenix, Ariz., and Longwall USA 2009, which takes place June 16-18, 2009, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Both events are sponsored by Coal Age and Engineering & Mining Journal (E&MJ).

Haulage & Loading ( is the only conference serving engineers and mine managers in the open-pit mining business. The theme this year, Cost Control for an Uncertain Economy, says it all. Longwall USA ( is the largest underground coal show. It is designed to meet the needs of longwall mine operators, but it also delves into other aspects of underground coal mining.

The technical programs for both of these conferences act as a forum for the exchange of information and ideas. Organized by a committee of peers interested in both underground and open-pit mining, they are boom top notch.
I know because I sit on the committees that organize these technical programs and see first hand the level of work the committees invest. Both programs also offer professional development hours for engineers.

In addition to the exchange of information through technical presentations, the conferences also provide opportunities for coal mining professionals to network with their peers. That works whether you are hiring or looking for a career change.

Mark your calendars. If you can only attend one trade show this year and you are looking for tips on how to operate more safely and efficiently, and how to cut costs, you should be attending one of these two shows.

Steve Fiscor, Coal Age Editor-In-Chief