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5 honored for service to mining industry

| Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, 12:01 a.m.
Ralph E. Bailey, a former executive with Consol Energy
Ralph E. Bailey, a former executive with Consol Energy
Frank Aplan, former Penn State mineral processing professor
Frank Aplan, former Penn State mineral processing professor

At Consol Energy, Ralph E. Bailey's name is synonymous with safety, especially at the sprawling coal mine complex that bears his name.

The United Engineering Foundation equates Frank F. Aplan with advancements in coal and mineral processing, and named an award for the retired Penn State University professor.

While he taught at Penn State, Aplan worked in a building named for the university's late dean of the School of Mining and Metallurgy, Edward Steidle.

All three were given a place of honor for the industry they served when they were inducted Friday evening into the National Mining Hall of Fame during a ceremony Downtown.

“I'm deeply honored,” Aplan, 92, of State College said before the ceremony in the Westin William Penn. “Mining has had some really outstanding people.”

The Colorado-based Hall of Fame added five inductees to its 227-member roster: Bailey, Aplan, Steidle, the late TS Ary and onetime Roosevelt Rough Rider John Campbell Greenway.

It was the first time the nonprofit held the induction ceremony east of the Mississippi River, said Michael Korb, environmental program manager for the Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

“Pennsylvania is where a lot of mining started,” said Korb, who emceed the event.

Bailey, 91, of Greenwich, Conn., joined Consol as an executive in 1965 when it was still known as Consolidation Coal Co. The Hall of Fame said it was honoring him as much for his “staunch commitment to safety, engineering and improving mine operations” as his business prowess.

“I got tired of going to a man's home and reporting on his condition,” Bailey said, recalling the days in the industry when injuries were common.

He instituted training programs and threw celebrations at mines that had exceptional safety records.

“It made everybody think,” he said. “Safety is a part of this.”

Cecil-based Consol, where he was CEO, established the Ralph E. Bailey Safety Trophy in his honor. It named its mine in Greene and Washington counties for him.

“The premier mining complex in the free world bears his name, which is a very fitting tribute to the legacy of someone who is a legend within the industry and a legend within our company,” said Consol CEO Nick DeIuliis. “We're very pleased to see this deserved recognition has now been achieved.”

Bailey led Consol through its acquisition by Conoco in 1966, then Conoco through its 1981 purchase by DuPont. He retired in 1987 and recently celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with his wife, Bettye.

Aplan's time in the industry was spent focused on chemical processes used to extract and prepare coal and other minerals, and troubleshooting company systems.

He settled at Penn State in 1968 partly because he didn't want to keep moving his children, which was common in the industry.

“I had some wonderful students,” he recalled, describing work that included early research into cleaning acid mine drainage. “I did the research for a reason, not just to do research.”

Steidle, a Williamsport native, helped shape the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State. He died in 1977.

“He's up there looking down and beaming,” said his daughter-in-law, Anne Steidle.

David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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