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including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Polish mining officials focus on new technology

By David Nutter

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 02 - September 5, 1996

Mining industry and government officials from Poland visited Virginia Tech Tuesday on the first leg of a three-day tour aimed at learning about new mining technologies and meeting with mining equipment dealers in the region.

Polish officials heard presentations about Virginia Tech's Mining and Minerals Engineering Program and toured its labs. Officials toured the labs of Clean Coal Technology, where Virginia Tech researchers have been able to substantially reduce the sulfur, and thus clean, the coal.

Later that day, representatives from the Powell River Project made a presentation on reclamation efforts after surface mining.

George Hiller, international marketing manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, also participated in the program. Governor George Allen will meet this same group of leaders in Poland in October to follow up on their visit to Blacksburg.

The visit to Blacksburg was an outgrowth of a training session two Virginia Tech faculty members conducted throughout Central Europe in 1995. Sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Governor's Office for Economic Development and Virginia Tech, J. Douglas McAlister, executive director of Public Service Program, and Joe A. Adams, economic development specialists, conducted a series of training programs in Poland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, and Austria.

The focus of the training programs was Virginia Tech and its educational and research programs, particularly those related to environmental and emerging technologies. McAlister and Adams also noted the economic diversity of Virginia and the similarities of Southwest Virginia to the principal mining regions of the Czech Republic and Poland. The audience at each session included key private- and public-sector leaders invited by the respective U.S. embassies.

With a population of more than 40 million people, Poland represents one of the largest markets for Virginia exports in Central Europe. Poland has been designated by the U.S. Department of Commerce as one of the top ten BEM's, or big emerging markets in the world.

Adams said, "While there is little or no growth in the domestic market, the big emerging markets are the fastest-growing, hottest markets in the world now and through the 21st century." This fact, coupled with the recent news that Poland is planning major changes in its mining industries, makes Poland very attractive to Virginia. Industry analysts predict there will be major consulting opportunities for mining engineers, mining ecology and reclamation specialists, and mining-management consultants. In addition, there will be opportunities for the sale of mining and construction equipment manufactured in Virginia.