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Rail Strike Would Destroy Wyoming’s Coal Industry But It’s Not Going To Happen

In September, President Joe Biden stepped in to help with labor negotiations between unions and major freight railroads, and a strike was averted with a tentative agreement. Four of the 12 unions have since voted against the agreement.

Once again, the unions are planning to strike, which is now set for Dec. 6. If one union votes to strike, they all strike. 

If that were to happen, Wyoming’s coal, soda ash and other mines would come to a screeching halt. Every industry in America that uses rail transport would be impacted. 

The good news is, should a strike happen, it’s not likely to last long. 

Photo by Robert Nickelsberg, Getty Images

There’s Precident

Railroad employees went on strike beginning June 24, 1992. By the following day, the U.S. House and Senate passed a bill that ended the strike and required mandatory arbitration in railroad labor disputes.

Stan Blake, a former Wyoming representative who worked for Union Pacific Railroad for more than 30 years, told Cowboy State Daily that Congress will likely end a strike if it happens again.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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Montana Coal Production Up Slightly

Montana coal production is up slightly through the first nine months of the year.

The state’s four remaining coal mines produced 21.7 million tons through September, an increase of $1.5 million for the same period a year earlier. Production data comes from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Much of the increase came from mines producing coal for domestic power plants. Rosebud Mine, which services Colstrip, produced roughly 400,000 tons more coal than it had during the first three months of 2021. In 2021, the power plant’s two surviving units were down for extensive spring maintenance.

Aerial view of the Spring Creek Mine near Decker, Montana.

Photo: Larry Mayer, Billings Gazette

Absaloka Mine, which fuels the Sherburne County Power Plant near Becker, Minnesota, turned out almost 750,000 more tons of coal than it did during the first three quarters of 2021.

Coal has steadily lost market share to natural gas as the preferred fuel for generating electricity. Laws banning energy generated by coal in order to curb climate change have been a lesser factor.

Mines that export coal saw smaller increases. Signal Peak reported a 311,000-ton increase over the same period in 2021. Spring Creek, the state’s largest mine was almost flat in growth with 8.916 million tons, an increase of 15,533 tons from 2021.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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Virginia Tech's Mock Mine Gives Students Experience Working With Minerals

When Virginia Tech’s Holden Hall was being redesigned, Mining and Minerals Engineering department head Erik Westman believed his mining students deserved better conditions than what the 1940 building could offer — conditions that would enhance his students’ ability to research, test and host robotics competitions.

In September, Holden Hall 2.0 was unveiled. The $73.5 million renovated Holden Hall was 102,000 square feet of A/V-equipped classrooms, high-tech computational facilities and labs — one of these labs being the Center for Autonomous Mining, also known as the Mock Mine. 

Brennan George (from left), Hunter Stanley, and Chris Keesee work to construct a remote-operated vehicle for use in the new Virginia Tech Center for Autonomous Mining in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering.

Photo by Tonia Moxley for Virginia Tech

The 1,200-square-foot, two-story center features three rectangular pits, similar to sand pits on a playground, which encompass the bottom level. On the outside of Holden Hall, a glass garage door leads directly to the center so minerals can be dumped seamlessly into the pit, with the goal to simulate a real mine. The largest of the three pits lies directly in front of the garage door, while two smaller pits are laid to the right of the larger pit. The pits are around four feet deep. 

The second level holds a glassed-in area, where students can observe tests being conducted within the mine space. A wall also hosts a projector screen to display information for lessons.

The Mock Mine is being used minimally right now, but the plan is for students to conduct experiments and projects dealing with operating and testing autonomous mining equipment and drones to learn the fundamentals of robotics and sensors within the mining space. 

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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WV Treasurer Moore Highly Deserving of National Recognition for Defending Consumers, Businesses Against ESG Initiatives

West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore received the Consumers’ Research “Consumers’ Champion Award” recently for his efforts to defend West Virginia residents and businesses from harm being imposed through the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) movement.

Chris Hamilton, President of the West Virginia Coal Association and Immediate Past Chairman of the West Virginias Business & Industry Council, said, “Treasurer Moore deserves the highest praise for his efforts to push back against discriminatory ESG policies and for sparking a national movement to do the same.” 

Riley Moore

"Treasurer Moore was quick to recognize the difficulties ESG policies were having on West Virginia’s foundational industries, energy workers, and their families, and was even quicker to forge ahead with a sensible program to remedy discriminatory practices against West Virginia companies.”

The award was presented by Consumers’ Research, an independent educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to increasing the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers and to promote the freedom to act on that knowledge and understanding. The award was presented during the State Financial Officers Foundation 2022 Fall National Meeting in Washington, D.C.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.  

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Senators and Colleagues Fight for U.S. Coal Industry

U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) wrote a letter to Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Martin J. Oberman requesting a plan to fill three vacant seats on the STB’s Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee (the Committee), which have been vacant for more than two years, with coal industry representatives.

“Coal remains the largest volume commodity on our nation’s railways. The lack of rail service is keeping coal from being shipped to utilities under service contracts and is even reducing the amount of mined coal. Missed trains and large delays caused by a lack of crews and irregular schedules have forced some coal mines to limit the production of coal, which ultimately results in lost jobs, despite the high demand and abundantly available resources,” wrote the senators.

North Dakota, Wyoming, and West Virginia produce nearly 60% of coal in the United States. Coal production in the U.S. increased by nearly 8% between 2020 and 2021, yet rail transportation options for the coal industry have decreased.

Joining Senators Cramer and Lummis are Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Click here to read the letter.

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