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Editorial comment

The tagline for this month’s SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit is “Mine to Market: Now it’s Global” – and how apt that is proving to be. Both Canada – the focus of this month’s regional report (pp. 11 – 18) – and the US are gearing up to boost exports to feed growing demand in Asia. Indeed, as this month’s Industry View argues (p. 10), the potential for exports to Asia is one of the few positive signs for the US coal industry this year as it faces domestic demand and continuing regulatory challenges. 

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North of the border, Canada is also eyeing up the huge potential markets to its west. As Ann Marie Hann, president of the Coal Association of Canada, told World Coal: “It is possible to double the current coal production level from British Columbia if all of the proposed new mines and the expansion of existing mines happen.” Of course, this may be a big if – but it reflects on an understandable desire to cash in on the Asian boom.

We also include the annual North American Manufacturers Review (pp. 52 – 74) in this issue, profiling the continent’s major OEMs serving the global coal industry. Many of these will also be exhibiting at the SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit, as will World Coal. This year the show has itself moved to the West Coast, to Seattle. If you are among the 6000 expected attendees, remember to stop by booth 906 and say hello. 

Moving away from the North American scene, this month’s technical section focuses of underground mining, while we also include an article (pp. 81 – 84) from Dr-Ing Johannes Lambertz, Dr Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer and Dr Thomas Thielemann, of the global energy company, RWE. This compares the carbon footprint of various fossil fuels. Unusually, however, the comparison is taken along the entire value chain – from extraction to power plant – not just at point of combustion. They also include shale gas, which is so shaking up the global energy industry, with some interesting results. It’s well worth a read.