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DOL News Release
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Dianna Peterson
Phone: (214) 767-4776

Released Monday, October 25, 2004

$1.395 Million Mine Safety and Health Contract Awarded to New Mexico Company
Stolar Research Corp. to Demonstrate Two Void-Detection Technologies


RATON, N.M. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has awarded a $1.395 million contract to Stolar Research Corp. of Raton, N.M., to develop two void-detection projects: a portable, hand-held look-ahead radar system for void detection in underground mines and an electromagnetic (EM) gradiometer that from the surface can identify underground structures that are at depths up to 400 feet.

"Mining coal near poorly mapped, abandoned and inaccessible coal mines can be dangerous, as we saw during the incident at Quecreek," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Dave D. Lauriski during a ceremony presenting the contract in Raton. "Stolar Research Corporation's look-ahead radar system and the EM gradiometer have the potential to increase the success and reliability of accurately detecting mine voids and underground structures."

Stolar Research's contract was awarded as part of a $10 million appropriation to detect mine voids and digitize mine maps in the wake of the 2002 flooding at the Quecreek mine in Somerset, Pa. MSHA received 58 different proposals from eight universities, two state geological survey organizations and 13 private companies. Eight teams of engineers, scientists and university professors formally evaluated each proposal. Ultimately, MSHA selected eight organizations for contract awards to demonstrate several types of technologies for detecting underground mine voids.

The Stolar technology demonstration team includes CONSOL Energy; Black Beauty Coal Co.; Mountain Coal Co.; REI Drilling; Target Drilling; West Virginia University; the University of Pittsburgh; and New Mexico State University. Each organization brings distinct capabilities to the demonstration project.

Stolar Research Corp. will test the look-ahead radar and the EM gradiometer at the CONSOL mine in Western Pennsylvania. After Stolar demonstrates the look-ahead radar, the company will give MSHA one of the two hand-held units it has developed.