September 05, 2008

Illinois Mining Institute to hold annual meeting

by Pete Rosenbery

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Workshops on Midwest mine health and safety issues, a mine rescue competition, and mining exhibits highlight the annual Illinois Mining Institute meeting next week in Springfield.

The two-day event is Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 8-9, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Kevin G. Stricklin, administrator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Coal Mine Safety and Health division, is the keynote speaker Tuesday afternoon.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been home to the Illinois Mining Institute, commonly known as IMI, for the last 10 years. The 116-year-old, industry-run organization promotes mineral industries in Illinois.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend any of the IMI’s 116th annual meeting. For more information or to arrange interviews during the conference, contact Y. Paul Chugh at 618/453-7922 or via email at The media may also contact administrative assistant Nancy Cline at 618/536-6631, or via email at Chugh is available during the conference at 618/201-3675.

Y. Paul Chugh, a professor in SIUC’s Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering, is the organization’s secretary-treasurer. IMI’s purpose is threefold, Chugh said: advance the mining industry by encouraging and promoting investigations of mining problems; encourage education in practical and scientific mining; and disseminate mining-related information and utilize resources that benefit its members.

“It’s a very important part of our mining activities within the state,” he said.

There are approximately 13 operating underground and surface mines in Illinois. Another three to five underground mines expect to be operating within the next few years, Chugh said.

More than 250 people will be involved with the mine rescue competition. The competition begins at 7 a.m., Tuesday.

The schedule includes:

Monday, Sept. 8

  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m. -- Registration.
  • Vendor and mine rescue setup throughout the day.
  • 4 p.m. -- Workshop on training, mine seals and refuge chambers. Joseph Angleton, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Mines and Minerals, provides the opening comments.

Tuesday, Sept. 9

  • 7 a.m..-5 p.m. -- Registration.
  • 7 a.m. -- Mine rescue competition.
  • 8 a.m.-10 p.m. -- Exhibits open.
  • 2:30 p.m. -- Keynote address, Kevin G. Stricklin, administrator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Coal Mine Safety and Health division, U.S. Department of Labor. Workshop on dust noise and diesel emissions control.
  • 7-9 p.m. -- IMI gala reception; the business meeting and awards ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m.

Chugh is one of five individuals receiving 2008 IMI Excellence in Mining Awards at Tuesday night’s banquet where approximately 650 people are expected.

Other notable Illinois mining industry professionals conference expected to attend include IMI president Doug Dobbins; Bill Hoback, managing director, Office of Coal Development and Marketing, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Phillip M. Gonet, president, Illinois Coal Association; and John Henriksen, president, Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers.

Chugh is receiving the excellence award for industry support. The award recognizes “exceptional performance” in support of Illinois’ mining industry through innovation, technical advancement, design, or implementation for improved mining systems or efficiency, according to the organization.

Chugh has more than 45 years professional experience in industry, academia, and research and development related to the coal industry. Chugh joined the SIUC faculty in 1977, and established the department into a center of excellence for coal research and development, and mining education. Chugh earned his bachelor's degree in 1961 from Banares Hindu University in India, and his master's and doctoral degrees in 1968 and 1970, respectively, from Pennsylvania State University. Chugh’s broad-based applied research leadership supports the industry in areas of applied rock mechanics and ground control, coal combustion byproducts management, coal mine productivity and coal mine dust control.

“The IMI is a very, very professional organization,” he said. “To be receiving an award from such an organization really elates me. I hope that it motivates others to serve the industry in a big way.”

Other award recipients are:

Mark Cavinder, Mulkeytown, operations manager, Willow Lake Mine, north of Equality; receiving IMI’s honorary member award for outstanding service to IMI and the state’s coal industry.

A 38-year coal-mining veteran, Cavinder earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1974. Cavinder and his colleagues “were instrumental in evolving many improvements in longwall mining equipment and techniques” in Illinois, according to the organization. The 1999 IMI president, Cavinder helped coordinate the state’s annual mine rescue contest during the organization’s annual meeting. Cavinder’s numerous positions during 29 years at Old Ben Coal Co. include vice president and general manager. He started working for Peabody Energy in 2005.

Dale Winter, manager, underground operations, Knight Hawk Coal Co.; receiving the experienced miner award, which recognizes “exceptional performance of experienced personnel working in Illinois mines.”

Winter’s experience includes Old Ben Coal Co., Arch Coal Co., Kinder-Morgan Cora Terminal, Illini Energy Resources, and Knight Hawk Coal. He led development of Knight Hawk Coal’s Prairie Eagle mine near Cutler and the company’s Royal Falcon mine in Jackson County. Winter earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1984.

Benjamin “Benji” Bowlin, unit manager, Gateway Mine; receiving the apprentice miner award, giving to mining engineering or mining technology graduates with less than five years in the mining industry.

A 1994 graduate of Christopher High School, Bowlin worked beginning in May 2000 for American Coal’s Galatia Mine for four years. He returned to SIUC to earn a bachelor’s degree, and joined Gateway Mine near Coulterville in fall 2005.

Mark S. Kern, recently retired president, Rend Lake College, will receive IMI’s inaugural special leadership award for leadership in a specific area that has a major impact on mineral industries.

Starting at Rend Lake in 1968, Kern retired after 17 years as college president in June. The IMI is recognizing Kern’s leadership in the conception and development of the 20,000 square-foot Rend Lake College Coal Mining Training Center now under construction.

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