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Protecting a Precious Industry
>>AMY SUSAN: Hi. I'm Amy Susan, Director of Communications for the Missouri Department of Labor. Most people probably don't realize the essential role that minerals play in the economic stability and health of the state. And today we're going to learn just what we do to protect that precious industry. I'm joined here with Director Rebman of the Missouri Department of Labor to tell us why we're here in Rolla and in this mine.
>>LARRY REBMAN: This is the longest running open mine competition in the United States. It’s--it’s put on by the Missouri Mine and Rescue Association. This is the 29th anniversary. We’re hosted here with the University of Missouri Science and Technology School of Mining and Engineering and this is an important competition to train miners and--and compete in a real life situation.
>>SUSAN: So, Larry, tell us what will take place in this competition this week.
>>REBMAN: What we’re going to see here is teams of seven individuals who are going to bring their equipment in. There are various stations set up in the mine. Let’s say, the power’s out here at the fan, there’s a rescue chamber. And so, what these miners will do is simulate an actual rescue situation. They’ll check to make sure the air flow is--is proper in a mine so there’s not any deadly gas. They’ll--they’ll barricade things off; they’ll pump water and then they’re going to try to effectuate a rescue of a live miner.
>>SUSAN: Larry, can you tell us why this competition is held here in Rolla and what set this contest apart from any other contest?
>>REBMAN: Well, the University of Missouri has a long history of excellence in engineering and mining and this is a actual mine that is not--is not under operation but it is a--the only one in the country that--that the rescue competition is in an actual mine, so we’re here today at Rolla getting the best possible simulation scenario.
>>SUSAN: So, why is it so important for mine workers to have this type of training?
>>REBMAN: The mine industry in Missouri is an eight billion dollar industry. There’s 30,000 miners in the State of Missouri and they are from various communities all across the state. This mine competition trains--helps train those--those miners. It hones their skills for saving their fellow miners.
>>SUSAN: Why is it so important to have mine safety in general?
>>REBMAN: Well, as we’ve seen over the last few years, mine accidents can have a terrible toll on communities. We saw it in Chili; we saw it in West Virginia; we saw it in Utah. As I mentioned, the University has an excellent reputation in engineering and mining, but this competition has been recognized nationally as one of the best, most real scenarios in the competition circuit.
>>SUSAN: Can you tell us, for those people who don’t know, just how many mines there are in Missouri, because we are the mining cave state and then where are they located?
>>REBMAN: There’s about 750 overall but right now there’s 400 active mines in the state. Some people don’t know that we’re one of the leading lead producers in the world. We also have high concentration of zinc and copper associated with that type of mining. We also have a lot of lime, which is used in cement and other manufacturing.
>>SUSAN: Bottom line, the main reason why we’re all here today and why hundreds of miners come from across the state to Missouri to compete is what?
>>REBMAN: Well, the primary reason is to save lives. The miner is the number one precious commodity in a mine and we produce all kinds of valuable minerals for the production of computer monitors and flat screen TV’s but the--the overall competition here is to save miners and preserve life.
>>SUSAN: Well, thank you, Director Rebman, for coming here today and for talking and if you all any questions you can visit labor.mo.gov. Click on news and notices and then click on labor talk podcasts.