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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy
closely with suppliers and the larger mining clients on evolutionary product developments. However, there is little evidence of the efficient transfer of technologies from outside the mining industry. This is at least partly due to the relatively small market that the coal mining industry represents to potential technology suppliers and the scarcity of coal mining research at academic institutions and national laboratories.
There is minimal federal support for the research and development of advanced mining technologies and practices that are necessary to optimize utilization of the nation’s coal resource.
Recommendation: There should be renewed support for advanced coalmining and processing research and development to optimize use of thenation’s coal resources by increasing the amount of coal that is economically minable through technological advances that accommodate health,safety, and environmental requirements. The focus of this R&D shouldbe on increased integration of modern technology in the extractionand processing phases of coal production, with particular emphasis onemerging advances in materials, sensors, and controls; monitoring; andautomated mining systems.
Although there is currently little federal funding for advanced mining technology to improve resource recovery, in the past the Department of Energy successfully partnered with the National Mining Association as part of the Mining Industry of the Future program. In addition, there are government-industry-academic cooperative models in other countries that are successful in directing and funding mining research (e.g., see Box 4.3). Research to develop advanced mining technologies requires not only cooperation among relevant federal agencies, but also participation by academic institutions as well as funding, guidance, and technology transfer by industry. The committee estimates that advanced coal mining and processing R&D will require a total of approximately $60 million per year and recommends that this funding should comprise $30 million in federal support, with cost sharing from non-federal sources. The DOE Office of Fossil Energy should be the lead federal agency and should coordinate with the National Science Foundation, OSM, NIOSH, academic institutions, and the coal industry to ensure that all research activities carefully consider the environmental, reclamation, and health and safety aspects of coal mining.