INA, Ill. – Rend Lake College will host the Illinois Mining Institute’s annual meeting and the state mine rescue contest this year. These events assemble a crowd of coal industry leaders and feature the Illinois Mine Rescue Association’s mine rescue contest, a trade show, technical presentations, the grand opening of RLC’s Coal Mine Training Center and more.
Relocating its 117th annual meeting from the Crowne Plaza Convention Center in Springfield to the campus at RLC, the IMI will hold this year’s two-day event with the IMRA on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 10 and 11.
“We are honored the IMI and IMRA are bringing their annual functions to our campus,” said RLC President Charley D. Holstein. “With several mines coming online with permits and located within driving distance from our campus, we feel RLC is a great location at the heart of Illinois coal.”
GRAND OPENING of RLC COAL MINE TRAINING CENTER
“The grand opening culminates a process that began in July of ‘08 with a celebrated groundbreaking ceremony,” added Holstein. “This is a major event for the campus and the community. I encourage the public to attend to see the possibilities and what we have done with their tax dollars. We are extremely excited about the training opportunities this center will bring to Southern Illinois and the region. So, please attend.”
The new center will house a simulated coal mine, large open shop area and large classroom space. Construction is complete and RLC physical plant staff are putting on the finishing touches inside. Located on the west side of campus, the center was constructed, in part, with FY2009 funding of a $1.7 million federal Community-Based Jobs Training grant and $1.07 million in Illinois coal development funds through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
RLC Applied Science Division Chair Terry Wilkerson called the mining tech program “full-contact coal mining.” Visitors at the open house will have a chance to enroll in this program.
Mining Technology Instructor Dave Colombo added, “When we get out we are going to do training on the lifeline, we’re going to do training on how we are going to splice a belt. We are going to go out into the entry. We’re not just going to sit in the classroom.”
MINE RESCUE CONTEST
Commemorating 100 years of mine rescue in Illinois, the IMRA’s mine rescue contest will take place all day, Aug. 11, on the college’s soccer field. Fourteen teams have already registered to participate in the state contest and more are expected to enter as it draws closer.
The mine rescue contest looks for the fastest time from teams who successfully complete a mock disaster at a coal mine, as Steve Miller explained. He is the supervisor at the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Field Office in Benton and served as an official at the Robert Earl Jones contest at RLC in May where Galatia Mine took home the top prize.
“We basically set it up with different situations they could encounter throughout the course of a recovery at a mine disaster,” Miller said
Fire, a bad roof, water, ventilation problems and the recovery of conscious victims as well as bodies are some of the simulated challenges on the course. It is important training which team members hope they will never have to use.
“... We hope we never have to call them out to put this training to use, but ... we need adequately trained teams in the area in the event we do have a disaster. Our teams do a great job of training and preparing.”
Miller explained that mine rescue teams have been around since 1900 or before, making this practice more than a century old. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of mine rescue teams in Illinois and the 1909 Cherry Coal Mine disaster that took the lives of more than 250 men and boys. Each mine is required to have two teams, whether they are both from the same mine or split between an operation and its sister mine. The state and the mines share the cost in equipping and training teams to be able to move together in an emergency, according to Miller.
Guests on the day of the IMI expo will be able to view a mine rescue demonstration as part of the open house schedule.
The trade show will be held Tuesday, Aug. 11, inside and outside the college’s gym. Vendors from across the Midwest who supply the mining industry will exhibit their equipment and services to attendees.
A slate of technical papers will be presented over the two days in various lecture halls and classrooms on campus. Papers will be presented by researchers who are experts in various fields related to mining.
IMI meeting highlights include the annual gala reception, business meeting and awards ceremony, and more than a dozen technical presentations covering a myriad of topics related to coal mine ground control. For more information, contact the IMI at 618-536-6631.
Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend any of the IMI’s 117th annual meeting. For more information or to arrange interviews during the conference, contact Gretchen Hampsey at 618-437-5321, Ext. 2373.