Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Industry portal launches wireless steel news service


Press release: industry portal launches wireless steel news service

London, UK - March 15th 2006, the international iron and steel industry news and information portal, today launches a new wireless steel industry news reporting service. Aimed at the steelmaking sector business executive, the new service provides steel industry news delivered direct to cell / mobile phones and other wireless devices anywhere around the globe.

Making use of recent advances in the availability of GPRS (an 'always-on' internet-based data service available to users of GSM phones), the new service is especially directed at executives who are 'on the road'. Comments Andrew M Kotas, CEO, "GPRS is typically accessible on most newer cell / mobile phones and on PDAs ('personal digital assistants') in most parts of the industrialised world. Our new wireless service simply marries the news aggregation skills of with the technological capabilities of GPRS to provide an extremely low cost and internationally seamless news service". Add Kotas, "This is the ideal information service for the steel industry executive who is on the move - perhaps travelling abroad, maybe waiting to catch a plane, perhaps stuck in a cab, or maybe about to go into a meeting and simply wishing to be better informed".

Comments Kotas further " is an information-sharing portal. We are therefore launching the new WAP ('wireless application protocol') service in two forms. One form is a 'light' version - a steel industry news headlines service, which is free to all site visitors. The other form provides fuller news coverage and offers up to ten current headlines on a WAP device, with associated news excerpts - and this version carries a small subscription charge. Our new wireless service is therefore accessible to all - from the materials engineering student who may be on a budget, to the company MD".


For further information, contact: For an online demonstration, registration and subscription information please visit

Press enquiries: +44 (0) 775-149-0885

Dr Andrew M Kotas


About is a global steel industry news, statistics and information portal that also provides clients with steelmaking sector research, management consulting and other professional support. The site was launched in October 2001, and is owned by UK-based Metals Consulting International Limited.

About WAP
WAP stands for Wireless Application Protocol, which is an application that is used to access information on handheld devices such as mobile phones. WAP is a protocol designed especially for micro-browsers (i.e. browsers for handheld devices, designed to cope with much less complex information than PCs). Just as PC based applications are written in HTML, so WAP applications for micro-browsers are typically written in WML (wireless mark up language).

About GPRS
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a data service available to users of GSM mobile phones. It is often described as 2.5G, that is, a technology that is in between the second (2G) and third (3G) generations of mobile telephones. GPRS provides moderate speed data transfer, sufficient for example for transmission of short text passages and news excerpts.

ICG Blames Lightning for Sago Blast [BlackDiamond]

An explosion that killed 12 workers at the Sago Mine likely was caused by a massive lightning strike that ignited methane gas in a sealed-off area, the mine's owner said Tuesday.

The company's own investigation turned up three pieces of compelling evidence of a lightning strike, all from 6:26 a.m. on Jan. 2, said Ben Hatfield, chief executive officer of International Coal Group Inc.

He said weather monitors confirmed an unusually large and powerful lightning strike near the mine; the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a seismic event at Sago; and the mine's own atmospheric monitoring system signaled a combustion alarm.

The precise route the electrical charge followed remains under investigation, but Hatfield said there is no evidence that a nearby gas well contributed to the explosion.

Hatfield broke the news to miners' families in a series of private meetings Tuesday, and Sago workers were to be briefed Tuesday night as they returned to work. The coal mine is set to resume production Wednesday.

"While our independent investigation is certainly not the final word on the explosion, we are confident that the joint federal-state investigation will reach a similar conclusion," Hatfield said. "We are pleased that we can get our Sago employees back to work with the knowledge that the explosion was an unpredictable and highly unusual accident."

The explosion trapped a crew of 13 men more than 250 feet underground for more than 40 hours. By the time rescue teams reached them, all but one had perished, most slowly succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning. Survivor Randal L. McCloy Jr. is still recovering from severe brain damage and other injuries.

Although the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration declared the mine safe to re-enter last week, Hatfield said he delayed resuming production until he could share the initial findings with the families.

Hatfield said reactions ranged from anger and frustration to relief. Mainly, though, families appreciated getting the information before it was released to the media or the general public.

He said he promised the families that lessons will be learned from the disaster, and coal mines will be made safer.

Though MSHA cited the mine for 208 violations in the months before the accident, the company's investigation showed that none of those violations was related to the blast, Hatfield said. Still, the company expects to be under the microscope.

"Frankly, we welcome that scrutiny," he said. "We have worked hard to address all concerns and are confident that we will provide a safe working environment for our miners."

Ashland, Ky.-based ICG has aided state and federal officials throughout the Sago probe but also hired outside consultants to do an independent investigation.

Hatfield said the team concluded the explosion occurred behind 40-inch-thick, dense foam block seals that were designed to withstand 20 pounds per square inch of pressure. The seals, called Omega blocks, were pulverized by a blast that initial calculations suggest had forces of at least three times that amount in some locations.

Hatfield told The Associated Press on Tuesday that ICG will no longer install seals at the Sago Mine and will ventilate existing sealed areas with boreholes to the surface. In time, the company hopes to adopt a technology used in some other mining countries - pumping nitrogen into the abandoned areas to make them inert.

"That's something we're going to take a hard look at," he said, adding that the inert gas technology also could be used at other ICG mines.

Historically, the industry has believed seals were the safest way to manage abandoned areas, Hatfield said. When the areas are not walled off, a fire boss must be sent in periodically to confirm it is being ventilated and deadly or explosive gases are not gathering.

Hatfield also said Sago will comply as quickly as possible with federal regulations enacted last week. Companies now must give each miner an extra air pack and, in some cases, store additional breathing devices along escape routes. Coal companies also must ensure miners have clearly marked "lifelines" along all escape routes.

Hatfield said ICG has obtained enough air packs to comply but is still working on meeting the lifeline requirement. The company is able to notify authorities of any future accidents within 15 minutes as required by a new state mine-safety law.

ICG bought the Sago Mine near Buckhannon from bankrupt Anker West Virginia Mining Co. last March. The operation has been producing coal since September 1999 and had 145 employees at the time of the accident.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Steel news from Russia and the Ukraine

Steel portal is pleased to announce that it has just launched a newsfeed with the latest steel industry news from Russia and the Ukraine.
Our CIS steel newsfeed may be found at where it is online 24/7, and updated every hour.
Dr Andrzej M Kotas
Chief Executive