By Charles Boothe
September 15, 2022 - The 24th biennial Bluefield Coal & Mining Show officially opened Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting in front of the Brushfork Armory.
Phil Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, cut the ribbon surrounded by coal show officials and local dignitaries.
“Congratulations to the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias,” he said of the coal show’s sponsor.
“If you are in the (coal) industry, you are probably doing pretty good today,” he said, with coal prices “out the roof” and both domestic and international markets very busy.
But Hamilton voiced a note of caution as well.
“We are still seeing a lot of transitioning away from this great industry,” he said of anti-coal political sentiment and the pursuit of renewables. “But there is nothing in the world that competes with coal-fired electric manufacturing or generation. and no one does it any better than those of you within this surrounding area.”
Hamilton said the Bluefield show has garnered a lot of attention over the years and “serves to accentuate all the great people in our industry, all the great successes, all the great extended coal economy.”
“We are forever grateful,” he said.
Hamilton said people with the coal association spend the majority of their time working with legislators and he emphasized how “strong and important” involvement in public policy is.
More people should get involved in the political process, he said, and try to help steer public policy in the direction favorable to the coal industry and not “extreme” policies.
But Hamilton praised Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and local legislators Dels. Marty Gearheart and Doug Smith (Mercer County) and state Sen. Rupie Phillips (7th District), for their steadfast support of the industry.
“These guys get it,” he said of their appreciation of coal. “They go way out of their way to defend this community, this great industry.”
Hamilton also praised the leadership of former state Senate President Bill Cole for his role in the Legislature.
“We got more done … when Senate President Cole was at the helm … than what’s been done historically in the state of West Virginia particularly for the coal industry,” he said.
Hamilton introduced Cole as well as several other guests in attendance, including Gearheart, Smith, Phillips, Mercer County Commissioner Bill Archer and Tazewell County Supervisors Maggie Asbury and Charlie Stacy.
“The coal show is now officially open,” he said as he cut the ribbon.
More than 165 industry exhibitors are set up inside and outside the armory.
The latest in mining, safety, technology, aggregate, components and major equipment are on display by exhibitors from around the country and the world.
The show is for industry representatives only and several thousand guests are expected during the three-day event, which wraps up Friday afternoon.