Thursday, 18 September 2014

Wednesday at MEC '14

Amanda's report on the 3rd day of the Minerals Engineering Conference in Poland:

The third day of the MEC 2014 conference saw a break from the technical proceedings, with a visit to the historic Guido Mine. Founded in 1855 by Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, the last coal was extracted in 1928, and during the 1960s-1980s it was an experimental mine. It has been open to tourists since 2007 and is the deepest tourist route in a coal mine in Poland.

Whilst waiting for the coach to take us to the mine, I chatted with Antii Kekki, of Aalto University, Finland. Antii is a PhD student working with Prof Olof Forsen and told me that this was the second time he has attended the Minerals Engineering Conference – which is now in its 51st year. I asked him how he was finding this one and he told me that he was enjoying it; the papers are interesting, the food is good and he also enjoys the friendly atmosphere.

Antti Kekki, Olof Forsen, Anna Stefanova and Lotta Rintala
Once we had descended to level 320 (320m deep) in the original mining cage at a speed of 4m/s, our guide led us on a 2.5km route around the mine. During our trip, we were able to view some of the large scale mining equipment in operation, giving us an idea of the conditions in which the miners worked. Hint: it was very noisy and dark!

Hylke Glass and (right) Emre Altun

One of the highlights of the tour was getting to ride in the electric suspension mining railway, the only one of its kind in the world which is open to tourists.

Amos Ambo about to board the train

With Shekwonyadu Iyakwari
We also got to experience the working condition by 'walking' through one of the side tunnels. One of the few times I'm glad to be on the short side!

Lotta Rintala and Anna Stefanova

To end our tour, we were pleasantly surprised to be shown to an underground bar, where we were able to sample Guido, the mine's own brand of beer.

Szyb Maciej restaurant
We left the Guido mine and travelled to another old coal mine, this time for lunch. The Szyb Maciej restaurant in Zabrze is located in the shaft of the former Concordia mine. The interior is an interesting and beautiful mix of old and new, with traditional Silisean food being served.

Tomasz Chmielewski, Hylke Glass, El-Sayed Ali Abdel-Aal, Jan Drzymala
After travelling back to Istebna, we had a little spare time before gathering again for the Gala Dinner. During dinner, I was introduced to the Polish tradition of drinking neat vodka with my meal, accompanied by much toasting. As vodka is a favourite drink of mine, this was not a problem and I was treated to a lecture on the origins of the 'Zubrowka' (translation: Bisson) vodka we were drinking from Jan Drzymala.

Over dinner I was introduced to Dr Lukasz Nieradko, Business Development Director at the newly formed Wroclaw Research Centre. The Centre will work as a technology transfer company for Wroclaw University of Technology. There wasn't much time for work-talk though, as soon the dancing began. I left at 1am, but I think some people were just getting started! 


  1. It sounds as though you really entered into the spirit of your visit and enriched the opportunity of attending the conference with the 2 very relevant coal mine visits. That's a rare opportunity and must have been fascinating first hand. I like the sound of the neat vodka toasting with every meal, but how was your head the next day?!

    Rosemary Bailey @ Wabi Iron & Steel Corp.

  2. Ha! Good question Rosemary. My head was ok actually, I think I danced off the vodka. Also, I went to bed at about midnight but I think some were just getting started!!


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