“Business is booming for companies associated with the coal mining industry, with no end in sight.”- Bluefield Daily Telegraph- Wednesday, September 21, 2022
“Based on current economic and market trends, global coal consumption is forecast to rise by 0.7% in 2022 to 8 billion tonnes, assuming the Chinese economy recovers as expected in the second half of the year, the IEA’s July 2022 Coal Market Update says. This global total would match the annual record set in 2013, and coal demand is likely to increase further next year to a new all-time high.” IEA.org- Global coal demand is set to return to its all-time high in 2022
With the relentless global push to a brave green world in 2022 it’s almost counterintuitive that the most demonized energy sector in the world, coal, is actually booming at record levels in 2022. This seems to contradict the green agenda pushed by the mainstream media, and governments at all levels around the world, not to mention the hyper-marketed, green-tinted ambitions of Big Tech billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates.
One US coal town paper, the Bluefield (Kentucky) Daily Telegraph, took the complex coal market perceptions away from the balance sheets and global demand forecasts of Wall Street to focus on a boots-on-the-ground view of the coal mining business in the US, and the positive effects that increasing demand for coal is having on mining-related businesses.
Safety and Mining Distribution Up 500% From the Recent Downturn
Two of the company exhibitors at the 2022 Bluefield Coal & Mining Show made it clear that:
“Business is booming for companies associated with the coal mining industry, with no end in sight.”
Despite the universal supply chain disruptions that have become the rule rather than the exception for industries across the board, Mike Hastings, chairman of the board for Delta Electric, said his company and associate company Carroll Technologies are seeing record demand for mining distribution, electrical, and safety products.
In his own words, the Delta chairman describes the mining operations support and equipment business in 2022 as “fantastic. Mike Hastings’s biggest problem now is keeping up with soaring mining operation demands, a dilemma that he describes vividly for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph report. “
“We’ve got people screaming for stuff now. The supply chain is backed up. We purchase way ahead, but still have a hard time getting it (products).” Mike Hastings, Chairman of the Board, Delta Electric
Even common personal safety equipment for miners, such as hand-held radios, are subject to supply chain disruptions. It’s an all-too-familiar situation in the post-covid shutdown year many are calling “Catch 2022”. That is the year when the consequences of poorly thought-out government policies catch up with the real world of supply and demand, and supply chain kinks and breaks are the inevitable results.
The Coal Conundrum
The kinky supply chain hasn’t slowed innovation in the coal industry, an energy resource that is both demonized yet vital for raising the standard of living in the 21st Century US as well as countries on the rise. Developing countries building modern infrastructure with fossil fuel power, energy that simply can’t be matched by today’s still emerging all-electric technology, all have heavy reliance on coal to achieve ambitious infrastructure goals.
It’s not a new conundrum. In the book ( ironically endorsed by one of the most notorious green agenda pushers Bill Gates himself) “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think author and statistician Hans Rosling pointed out the shallow hypocrisy of already developed nations built on fossil fuel exploitation now restricting coal and oil energy applications in the rest of the world. It’s a “We got ours, let them get their’s” attitude in the West that’s hard to stomach for developing countries that rely on coal to raise the standard of living for their own indigenous populations.
Synthetic Rope and Collision Avoidance in the Mining Spotlight
With demand for coal returning to record high volume, innovation in the coal mining sector isn’t lacking. One of the highlights of the Bluefield exhibition was the synthetic fiber rope slated to replace traditional steel cable of the same diameter but with a much higher margin of safety if the rope parts. When a steel cable line lets go it can generate lethal metal shrapnel, a risk that is eliminated by the fiber-based synthetic line.
Collision avoidance technology for mining vehicles automatically puts the brakes on, similar to the autonomous driving systems in development for automobile use. Versatile electronics for any type of mobile equipment used in mining operations has brought a surge in demand that Chairman of the Board at Delta Electric Mike Hastings describes as “so good it’s scary”.
The Boom in Screening and Separation Equipment
The Bluefield coal show was a must for Conn-Weld Industries’ Marvin Woodie, a mechanical engineer and the company president. His Princeton-based company manufactures custom-designed screening and separation equipment for mining, aggregates, and other mineral industries.
Conn-Weld was established in 1975 to manufacture screen media and coal washing and processing gear. In the 1980s they diversified and expanded into aggregates and industrial mineral screening equipment for other mining and quarrying sectors as well.
400,000 Square Feet is Not Enough Production Space
Now, according to Conn-Weld’s president Woodie, the company’s 400,000 square feet of production space still isn’t enough to meet demand in 2022. Conn-Weld is increasing its workforce from 162 employees in 2020 to 250 in 2022. Marvin Woodie explains, “We are getting ready to add 100,00 square feet of production space,” he said, bringing the total to 500,000 square feet. “Business has been good.”
According to other manufacturers represented at the Blue Field Coal Show, Woodie’s estimation may be the understatement of the year for the coal mining industry in 2022. Supply chain issues are just another challenge to be overcome by the industry besieged by regulation, environmental radicalism, and the demonizing of traditional energy resources that could be characterized as “fossil foolishness”. It’s the prevailing green mindset that leads to Californians sweating in the dark and unable to charge their electric vehicles on “peak holiday weekends” because of over-reliance on an unsustainable “green” energy grid.
But here’s the reaction from mining equipment leaders and manufacturers in the coal business environment of 2022.
- “The supply chain is a big time struggle right now trying to meet the demands of the customers we have,” he said, “but I think we are doing a great job.”- Josh Burns, senior sales engineer with Komatsu Mining’s Bluefield, Va. facility
- “Business right now is doing so much better. We don’t have to do just any job unlike in the past when choices were slimmer. We’ve got so much to do we can pick and choose”- Jeff Grose, sales executive with Peters Equipment in Bluefield, Va.,
- “If more products were available now (not impeded by supply chain issues) the company would need to expand its workforce. But we are pretty stationary on that right now,” Josh Burns
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