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Front Page » July 15, 2008 » Emery County News » Mine safety
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Mine safety

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The Third Annual International Mining Health and Safety Symposium: Working to Protect the World's Miners

Working to ensure coal miner safety and providing cutting-edge equipment for those working beneath Earth's surface is the focus of the third annual International Mining Health and Safety Symposium that will be held July 20-22 in Salt Lake City.

Coordinated by Wheeling Jesuit University's National Technology Transfer Center and the Utah Labor Commission, the event at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel will bring together national and international leaders from the coal industry, labor and government, industry and labor to find solutions to the many challenges the coal mining industry is facing.

"The purpose of the symposium is to keep pace with technology advancements in safety," said J. Davitt McAteer, vice president for sponsored programs at Wheeling Jesuit University and the former assistant secretary for Mine Safety and Health. "This commitment arose from horrible tragedies with human cost. Our only goal here is to make mining safer. This is a unique forum where the mining companies, union representatives and industry can come together to share ideas."

McAteer pointed out that there is uniqueness to this event in that there will be discussions involving international panelists who will share ideas about mining in their respective countries. Additionally, panelists from other industries will talk about innovations that could potentially be of use in the mining industry.

The symposium will open with a moment of silence in memory of the Crandall Canyon, Utah, miners who were lost in the catastrophic events of 2007. As a result of the tragedy, which was attributed to coal bumps, several of the panel discussions during the symposium will focus on preventing and/or controlling coal bumps via engineering design. Post-accident communication and tracking systems technologies will be talked about, along with safety innovations from other industries that could be beneficial in a coal mine setting.

Break out sessions will look at the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA) approval and certification process for new technologies, as well as legal issues in mine safety. In addition to the panel discussions, an exhibit area showcasing innovations that may help officials reach the goal of safer coal mines will be part of the event.

"Innovation is the key to a major breakthrough in mine safety," McAteer said.

know that we can make mining safer for everyone involved, and we are bound and determined to do this."

West Virginia became a national focal point of mine safety following the Sago and Aracoma mine accidents in January 2006 that killed 14 miners. The deaths served as a chilling reminder of coal mining dangers and sparked a national discussion about safety standards and emergency equipment. As a result, the International Mining Health and Safety Symposium was born at Wheeling Jesuit.

In a letter, Manchin commended Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., for co-hosting the third annual symposium in Salt Lake City.

"As you know, the first two symposiums were held in Wheeling, W.V., and it is an effort we are quite proud of. It focuses the attention of the mining industry and the public on how to improve the critical area of mine safety and health," Manchin wrote.

The 2008 symposium is sponsored by MSHA, the National Institute for Labor Commission and the Utah Mining Association.

In addition to Manchin and Huntsman, the event is endorsed by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), and Utah's Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.

For more information about attending the event, visit

The youngest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, Wheeling Jesuit University offers students a high-quality private education. Since 1995 U.S. News and World Report has ranked Wheeling Jesuit University among the top institutions in its "Best Master's Universities in the South" category. The campus is also home to the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center, the Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies®, the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future, a Challenger Learning Center® and the Clifford M. Lewis Appalachian Institute.

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