July 21, 2022


John Lowell, McCloskey

Session: Coal Markets: Current & Future

Presentation title: The role of US coal markets in a decarbonizing future

Bio: John Lowell is a weekly contributor to Inside Coal & Steel Raw Materials and US East Coast coking coal and ARA and Barranquilla met coke price indicators. He possesses extensive commercial knowledge of global coal markets, inland transportation, and bulk ocean freight. Prior to joining McCloskey by OPIS, a Dow Jones Company, six years ago, he worked for eight years at what was then Arch Coal in both sales and corporate development roles. John began his career in the energy consulting practice of Pace Global Energy Services in market analysis and price forecasting in support of projects worldwide utilizing natural gas (piped and liquefied supply), coal, petroleum coke, and biomass. He received his MBA in finance and strategy from Washington University in St. Louis and holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in economics and history.

Samantha Anderson, Peabody Energy

Session: ESG & Sustainability in Coal

Presentation title: Effective ESG Practices in a Changing Environment

Bio: Samantha Anderson serves as the lead for Peabody’s global ESG program with responsibility for the annual ESG report as well as development of metrics and systems to support Peabody’s ESG strategy. After joining Peabody in 2019 as an Environmental Manager, she has served as interim Director of Corporate HSSE and currently as the Director of Environmental Policy and ESG. She has worked extensively within the mining industry, in both coal and hard rock sectors, on state and federal regulatory issues, HSE management systems, and the ESG program development.

Samantha received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN.

Stephen G. Sawyer, Jr., Ph.D., National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

Session: Research Needs & Directions

Presentation title: Safety research needs of the coal mining industry

Bio: Stephen G. Sawyer, Jr., Ph.D. is the Director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Pittsburgh Mining Research Division (PMRD).  Before being selected as the Director in June of 2021, Dr. Sawyer has worked in PMRD’s Human Systems Integration Branch.  Prior to joining NIOSH, he spent 16 years working in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Technical Support program area.  Dr. Sawyer was in MSHA’s Mine Emergency Operations Division (MEO) for 13 years where he was not only the Engineering Support Branch Manager, but an active apparatus wearing member of MSHA’s Mine Emergency Unit and ended his time with MEO by acting as the Mine Emergency Response Coordinator for MSHA. 

Dr. Sawyer holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, a M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, and a M.B.A. from Duquesne University.  He is also a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Chris Hamilton, West Virginia Coal Association

Session: Workforce Development

Presentation title: Todays Challenges and Opportunities

Bio: Chris Hamilton is the President and CEO of the West Virginia Coal Association. Hamilton, a native of Wheeling, WV, has over 40 years of experience in and around the mining industry. He started his mining career as an underground miner and worked as a fire boss and section foreman and several management positions for the Valley Camp Coal Company before serving as deputy director for the West Virginia Department of Mines. Chris has spent the past 35 years with the West Virginia Coal Association in a variety of capacities involving mine safety, legislative regulatory and government affairs. Hamilton has mine foreman certifications in West Virginia and Ohio and is a graduate of West Virginia University with undergraduate and master’s degrees in business and political science. He also serves on several state Coal Boards and Commissions under gubernatorial appointment.


Charles Hoyt, Westmoreland Coal

Session: Coal Markets

Presentation title: Past, Present, and Future of Domestic Thermal Coal Markets: Case Study of Westmoreland

Bio: Charles has been with Westmoreland Mining since 2017 and has been instrumental in delivering the roll out of integrated mine planning standards and systems as well as budgeting tools, across the entire Organization. In his old role as the Director of Engineering, he organized the build-up of a Corporate Engineering Group from scratch, re-structured the work-cycle and processes for Annual Budgets & Forecasts, Life-of-Mine plans, ARO / reclamation programs, and also provided technical reviews and diligence over operational expansion projects and potential target acquisitions.

Prior to joining Westmoreland, Charles worked as a Mining Engineer for several consulting firms where he completed numerous studies for clients around the world. During his time in his early career, Charles had the opportunity to travel to most of the major mining hubs around the world and gain a wide breadth of experience in the mining industry. Charles earned a bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Missouri – Rolla and is a practicing Professional Engineer.

Trina Igelsrud Pfeiffer, University of Wyoming

Session: Coal Markets

Presentation title: Alternate Coal Products: Implications for the Coal Market

Bio: Trina Igelsrud Pfeiffer is the Interim Director of the Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion in the School of Energy Resources. Originally from Denver, Pfeiffer earned both her B.S. and M.Sc. in Chemical and Petroleum Refining Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1980 and 1990, respectively. Following the completion of her education, Pfeiffer immediately began working for an engineering corporation for over a decade before starting her own consulting company and served as the very first female local section chair for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in the Denver area.

Pfeiffer has been instrumental in making the center’s patent-pending thermo-chemical process technology a reality. She brings forty years of technical experience with her to SER and a wealth of knowledge to help move projects in the CCCC closer to commercialization by finding alternative, high volume uses for Wyoming coal.

Emily Ahachich, University of Wyoming

Session: ESG & Sustainability in Coal

Presentation title: Focusing on material information in ESG Disclosures

Bio: Emily helps clients think through sustainability risks and opportunities in the context of their overall business. Her areas of focus include materiality assessments, goal setting and measurement, program development, governance and disclosures. She works with Barr’s industry and technical experts to identify and deliver advice and solutions that help clients achieve their sustainability goals across various environmental issues, including greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste and biodiversity.

Prior to Barr, Emily served as the director of investor relations for Xcel Energy where she championed environmental, social, and governance priorities, including goal development, ESG ratings and disclosures. She also developed the company’s sustainable financing framework and approach to impact reporting. Emily previously led Xcel Energy’s corporate strategy and planning organization and also worked in management consulting.

Emily earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and her BA in business administration from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

LiLi Eng, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Session: ESG & Sustainability in Coal

Presentation title: ESG in Mining: Determinants and Cost of Debt Implications: What are the lessons for coal miners?

Bio: Dr. Li Li Eng is Professor in the Department of Business and Information Technology, Missouri University of Science and Technology. She has a Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Michigan. She teaches Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. Her research interests are in financial reporting, voluntary disclosures, corporate governance and ESG disclosures.

Mahelet Fikru, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Session: ESG & Sustainability in Coal

Presentation title: ESG in Mining: Determinants and Cost of Debt Implications: What are the lessons for coal miners?

Bio: Mahelet Fikru holds a Ph.D. in economics from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is an associate professor of economics at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She is a member of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE), the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), and The US Association for Energy Economics (USAEE). Dr. Fikru’s research focuses on resource, energy, and environmental economics to promote efficiently operating economic systems that uphold the highest level of environmental, social, and governance performance. She has published over 45 peer-reviewed articles and serves as an associate editor for Energy Reports.

William Ampomah, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Session: Research Needs & Directions

Presentation title: Technological Advancements in Reducing Carbon Emissions through Sequestration: UIC Class VI Process

Bio: Dr. William Ampomah is an Assistant Professor of Petroleum Engineering at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, United States. He was recently appointed by New Mexico Secretary of Energy as a Commissioner to the Oil Conservation Commission. Dr. Ampomah is also the Section Head of the Reservoir Evaluation/ Advanced Computational Technologies (REACT) group at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) at New Mexico Tech since 2018. He is the Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator on multiple US Department of Energy (US-DOE) funded grants. Dr. Ampomah has published over 80 papers and several presentations in areas of enhanced oil recovery, CO2 sequestration, reservoir characterization, application of machine learning in numerical simulation and optimization. Dr. Ampomah had his MS and PhD degrees at New Mexico Tech in 2012 and 2016, respectively, in Petroleum Engineering. He completed his BS in Petroleum Engineering in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Ghana.

Hongyan Ma, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Session: Research Needs & Directions

Presentation title: Large Scale Carbon Capture and Conversion: Possible Applications in Coal Power Plants

Bio: Hongyan Ma is an Associate Professor in civil/materials engineering. He has over 15 years’ experience in R&D of construction and functional materials. His current research interests include carbon-neutral and carbon-negative cement and concrete, building energy systems, recovery of critical minerals, and large-scale carbon mineralization. His research has shown that coal could be a promising feedstock for construction and building materials, endowing these materials with capacities of thermal energy storage, snow and ice melting, self-sensing, and even high strength and ductility.

Fran Taglia, Weir International

Session: Workforce Development

Presentation title: Challenges of Hiring and Retaining Employees

Bio: Fran Taglia is the President of Weir International, Inc., a mining engineering and geology consulting firm based outside of Chicago, Illinois. He has over 20 years of technical, operational and business management experience and expertise in the mining industry, including engineering, financial, operational, and marketing assessments. His experience includes feasibility studies, reasonableness reviews, due diligence, and operational assessments for surface and underground mining operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South America. Mr. Taglia’s operational experience has focused on improvement in management systems, production, productivity, and operating costs.

Mr. Taglia is also serving as the President of Bluegrass Natural Resources LLC, a metallurgical coal mining company with operations in Kentucky and Virginia.

Mr. Taglia has his M.S in Biology from Boston College and his M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Donna Arthur, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Session: Workforce Development

Presentation title: Challenges of Recruiting for Mining Engineering Programs

Bio: Donna Arthur is the senior student recruitment specialist for the Mines and Metallurgy Academy at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She plays a critical role in attracting, engaging, and enrolling prospective students. Her primary responsibility is to increase the number of qualified applicants to the university and boost enrollment in the mining, metallurgical, ceramic, geological, petroleum, and nuclear engineering programs. Since starting this role last December, new strategies have been added to outreach to include increased marketing, relationship building with high school counselors and teachers. New events such as MMA Day at S&T, which highlighted the Mines and Metallurgy Academy programs, were a huge success this past summer.