Last week, I paid a visit to St. Clairsville, Ohio, home to Murray Energy Corporation and Century Mine—one of several Murray enterprises. It was my first mine visit, and I’m certainly hoping it won’t be my last. The day started with a personal briefing by Mr. Murray, where we learned about the subsidiaries of Murray Energy Corporation and how his business came into fruition 26 year ago. We then toured a bit of the countryside seeing Ohio Valley Coal and American Energy Corporation in Belmont County before arriving at Century. Mr. Murray detailed for us the many aspects of his operations, imparting his personal wisdom along the way; which I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable it was, especially for a newbie like me.
After getting suited up in our gear and having our safety briefing, we took a quick elevator ride about 400 feet into the earth. When arriving into the actual mine, we took a mine transportation vehicle about six or seven miles into the mine, where we made several stops. Century Mine opened in 2000, so it was interesting to see how much progress has been made since its inception. The highlights of the visit were seeing the longwall and the continuous miner. There aren’t really words to describe what we saw—the longwall sitting just a couple hundred feet away from us was plowing through the earth and produced an insane amount of coal in just minutes. The efficiency was incredible, and watching the coal pass by on the conveyor belt was a treat. The continuous miner is not as efficient or quick as a longwall, but it gets the job done and is still an amazing piece of technology. We watched the miner drill into the wall and shoot the coal back onto a vehicle that transported it to the conveyor belt. It sounds like a simple process, and the miners made it look easy, but I knew it was nothing of the sort.
The best part of all of this was that Mr. Murray was giving us the tour himself. You could see his dedication and passion for this industry as well as the well-being of his miners. The people in his mines and community mean the world to him, and it’s evident how much he cares about their safety. Mr. Murray built his company on faith and commitment, and he remains committed today. He cares about people’s jobs and their families and knows how important it is to provide job security in communities where there is too often none. I never would have thought that I would get to spend so much quality time with the CEO of a company, and get to ask him the questions that we did and learn from his work ethic. It was an experience that I know won’t ever be replicated.
Probably the most important thing that I’ll take away from this visit is that I got to see a part of the industry that I work to promote and defend. It puts a whole new perspective on what’s really at stake and what the administration is NOT telling people about the consequences of its actions to take coal-based energy out of the mix. My new perspective will be instrumental in helping me carry out our mission, and I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to broaden my horizons. Thank you to everyone at Murray Energy who helped to make our day truly special. I look forward to the next visit!