BLUEFIELD — The 2022 Bluefield Coal & Mining Show kicks off this morning at the Brushfork Armory, bringing together industry companies and personnel from around the country, and the world.
Preparations were wrapping up Tuesday afternoon as all of the more than 165 exhibitors were putting the final touches on displays in anticipation of the several thousand people who will visit the armory before the show wraps up Friday afternoon.
This year’s 24th biennial event, “The Bluefield Coal & Mining Show – A Show for Mining: Our Past, Present, Future,” will feature companies providing exhibits in underground mining, safety, technology, aggregate, components and major equipment.
Opening ceremonies will be held right before 10 am this morning.
Shannon Carter, a Bluefield State University student, will be one of the first people industry representatives may see when they attend the show.
He is one of the student volunteers who is registering guests as they come to the armory, and this is his first year.
“It’s been busy, but it’s been fun,” he said Tuesday afternoon as he and classmate Teddy Raza were in charge of setting up the computer equipment for registration.
The registration tent is located just outside the armory, which is full of exhibitors both inside and around the facility.
Carter said they are ready for the crowd.
“It’s exciting,” he said.
Kyle Hurt, a long-time volunteer, former board president and member of the coal show’s executive committee, said everything was coming together.
“We will be ready,” he said. “It’s been a busy day today. A lot of them have come in, but some can set up in the morning (today). But the majority of them are set up and ready to go.”
The show has represented companies from all around the country, as well as from other countries.
Hurt said Australia, Japan and Germany are among the countries represented, as well as Poland.
The Polish company, Fajing SA. Factory Mining Equipment and Tools, had just finished setting up its displays near the armory, marketing its heavy-duty chain links and conveyor equipment.
Mateusz Bik is vice president, export and foreign investment director, of Fasing, based in Katowice, Poland.
“We specialize in chain assemblies that we manufacture in Katowice,” he said, as well as in Germany.
Bik said other components are now manufactured that allow the company to produce an entire conveyor as well as shields.
About 80 percent of energy in Poland is from coal, he said, so the market is large and has also shifted internationally.
That international market is wanted, he said, especially since the European Union (EU), of which Poland is a part, has mandated all underground coal mines be closed by 2050.
“Our chains are now sold in 49 countries,” he said, “and we have more than 2,000 customers.”
Bik said one of the company’s biggest markets is China, especially for the new very large chains.
The worldwide demand for the products has also grown since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added, and his company is trying to keep up with the demand.
Bik said the company is now doing more marketing in the US
This is the first time for the group to visit the Bluefield show, but they always go to the international show in Las Vegas and they participate in shows “all over the world.”
Aleksandra Tilszer-Sowa is the deputy director for the US market for the company and said they are continuously attending shows, coming straight to Bluefield from a week-long show in Katowice.
“The next one in the USA will be in in 2023 in Pittsburgh,” she said.
Zbigniew Stawowczyk, export director, is part of the team but will continue his stay in the US for another week after the show to visit underground coal mines in this area.
Stawowczyk said he has already visited mines in Alabama, Montana and West Virginia.
“I am impressed with the mines,” he said. “They are very modern with high technology.”
The Polish group said they have been pleased with the reception here.
“The atmosphere here is very nice,” Bik said. “Everybody here is very friendly. We have got a lot of support.”
“Here in the US, coal is strong,” Tilszer-Sowa said. “It is still strong,” but that is not always the case in Europe as political attitudes have changed.
But Bik said the attitudes of the miners has never changed.
“We all want to produce coal,” he said.
— Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org