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CONSOL Energy Featured in National Geographic


This month National Geographic features CONSOL Energy's Robinson Run Mine in Next, a section of their award-winning magazine dedicated to forward-thinking technology from across the globe.

Since November 2011, CONSOL has worked closely with engineers and scientists of Lockheed Martin to facilitate the proper testing ground for MagneLink®, an innovative system that provides post-accident emergency wireless through-the-earth communications independent of surface or in-mine infrastructure. The system uses voice, data, and/or beacon signal to enable communications between trapped miners and rescuers on the surface when no other communication system will function. Although the testing phases of MagneLink® are not complete, CONSOL Energy is proud to serve as a venue for the necessary trials of the product and provide ample feedback.

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Following the tragic Sago mine incident in Upshur County, West Virginia in early 2006, CONSOL Energy's acclaimed safety team began exploring new technologies to protect the health and wellbeing of our miners.

Simultaneously, global security and aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin, began work on a novel communications technology which transmits magnetic waves through the earth without the transmission wires and in-ground infrastructure currently required to communicate via standard radio communications. The system, dubbed MagneLink, is portable and provides wireless two-way, voice and text communications and operates at ranges sufficient to communicate from the surface into shallow-to-deep underground mines.  The system brings a tremendous emergency communications capability to the mining industry in the event of an accident where miners are trapped and have no other means of communicating with rescue teams on the surface.

Given CONSOL Energy's expertise and industry-leading track record in safety, federal regulators, including officials with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), facilitated a partnership between CONSOL and Lockheed to begin research, development, testing and evaluation at CONSOL's underground mining complexes within the Appalachian basin.

CONSOL Energy and Lockheed Martin stepped up to provide the funding, proving grounds and time commitment necessary to make this project a reality.

To date, MagneLink is the only through-the-earth communication system approved by MSHA for underground evaluation.  While the system remains in the testing phase, federal and state regulators, as well as industry, acknowledge the transformational nature of this technology.  CONSOL Energy looks forward to continuing to work on the cutting-edge with industry partners to perfect this and other technologies and procedures to keep us ahead of the curve with regard to our core values of safety, compliance and continuous improvement.