In response to the call for increased mine safety and improved underground communications in the wake of recent mining fatalities, the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech is cooperating with the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy to offer a Symposium on the Capabilities and Availability of Wireless Communication and Tracking Systems for Underground Coal Mines.

The event on Monday, Feb. 13, is intended to provide Virginia coal mine operators and safety directors with current information on the capabilities and availability of wireless communication and location systems in underground coal mines. The symposium will take place from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, in Abingdon.

Presentations on mine communications technologies will be made by representatives from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and by vendors able to supply these technologies, who will also perform demonstrations. The need for continued mine safety vigilance will be discussed with coal industry participants.

The occurrence of 18 fatalities in the nation's coal mines in the past 30 days has called attention to the need for an increased focus on mine safety. Underground coal mine communications and miner tracking systems have been considered as a priority area of concern in the wake of these mine accidents.

For more information, contact the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy at (276) 523-8143.