INA, Ill. – Patriot Coal recently donated a shuttle car to the Rend Lake College coal mining technology program. The 30-ton piece of equipment, used in the process of transporting coal to the surface, arrived at the college on Nov. 4.
The donation is estimated at $65,000 to $75,0000. Patriot Coal Corporation was presented a recognition award Thursday night at the Rend Lake College Foundation's 2011 Annual Dinner Meeting, held at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn. There to accept on behalf of Patriot Coal was Larry Millburg, vice president of operations for the midwest. "On behalf of Patriot Coal, I thank you very much for this award," Millburg said. "We are proud to continue the education of coal miners in the Illinois Basin."
According to its website, Patriot Coal Corporation is a leading producer and marketer of coal in the eastern United States, with 14 current continuous, longwall and surface mining complexes in Appalachia and the Illinois Basin. The company ships to domestic and international electric utilities, industrial users and metallurgical coal customers, and controls approximately 1.9 billion tons of proven and probable coal reserves.
Mining Technology Associate Professor Dave Colombo said the shuttle car is an invaluable piece in what has become a healthy inventory of practical training equipment at the 22,000-square-feet Coal Mining Training Center. The inventory – made up of equipment purchased by RLC and the generosity of outside supporters like Patriot Coal – includes a roof bolter, power center, continuous miner, mantrip, atmospheric monitoring system, cable, mini-trac, automated fire training system and tunnel, and refuge chamber located inside the 10,000-square-feet mock underground mine at the CMTC.
The JOY model 10SC32B shuttle car is one of the largest pieces of equipment in the training program. Colombo said the college had help from some local mining leaders in getting the equipment.
“Unloading a 60,000-pound anything comes with a bit of a challenge, and it was no exception when the shuttle car showed up on the semi that Friday,” Colombo said. “We’re very grateful for the teamwork Heavy Equipment Instructor Zach Vahlkamp and his students provided in getting the gear on the ground.
“This shuttle car is a tremendous part of our ability to provide the most realistic training experience possible,” Colombo added. “This is what students are going to see in the field. This is as real as it gets.”
The mining technology program at RLC is busy preparing students to find rewarding work in a coal industry rife with opportunity in the Illinois Basin. The associate in applied science degree option from RLC takes four semesters to complete and can be paid for through grants and other financial aid options for those who qualify. There are also five occupational certificates that are earned with the degree, or can be obtained individually.
Since being resurrected by RLC officials in 2008, enrollment in the RLC mining technology program’s degree and certificate tracks has soared. There is currently a waiting list to get in. Those interested in any MSHA initial or retraining are encouraged to schedule now at 618-437-5321, Ext. 5804 or 1285.
“Because of the foresight college leaders showed in building this training facility, along with some hard work and dedication, we are well positioned to meet any training need for the mining industry,” said Colombo.