The 2018 Illinois Basin Coal & Mining Expo will feature some of the region’s top industry experts, who will share their insights and foresights about the existing state of the coal industry, and the future of mining on the whole.

On Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 the Illinois Basin Coal & Mining Expo Symposium will begin at 4 p.m. at the Marion Civic Center. Attendance is free, but you need to be registered. Register to attend the symposium here.

For parking information, click here.



 Keynote Speakers: 

Governor Rauner was born and raised in Illinois. A self-made businessman, he is truly committed to turning around Illinois by creating a more prosperous state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

His first job was flipping burgers and his second job was parking cars. He graduated Dartmouth College with top honors and earned an M.B.A. from Harvard University. He began his professional career at then startup investment firm Golder, Thoma, Cressey (later GTCR). As one of its earliest partners, he helped build the firm into one of the most successful and respected businesses in Illinois. GTCR has been trusted for decades to oversee the retirement investments of first responders, teachers and other Illinois workers. He created tremendous returns for GTCR – more than doubling the stock market’s performance – while providing exceptional value for taxpayers.

He has also reinvested his business success back into the state through support of education, local hospitals and community organizations. He has been a key supporter of projects such as Chicago’s new Red Cross regional headquarters, the YMCA in Little Village, Illinois, charter high schools, and scholarship programs for disadvantaged students. He has served on the boards of numerous civic organizations including The Noble Network of Charter Schools, World Business Chicago and the University of Illinois Chancellor’s Strategic Advisory Board.

He is the proud father of six children – two boys and four girls. His wife Diana is the love of his life. Together, they have devoted a tremendous amount of personal time and resources to philanthropic and community causes across the state and nation. Their mission is to improve education across Illinois. Diana is the president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a non-profit dedicated to providing all children access to quality care and education throughout the first five years of life.


Rep. Mike Bost represents the 12 counties of Illinois’ 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Sworn in to office on January 6, 2015, Mike has prioritized bringing Southern Illinois’ values in Washington. These values were shaped during his time in the U.S. military, then as a first responder, a local job creator, and a state representative.

In the 115th Congress, Rep. Bost serves on three key committees: Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and Transportation & Infrastructure.

Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Bost served for two decades in the Illinois House of Representatives, rising to the leadership position of House Republican Caucus Chair.

Rep. Bost also served as a firefighter for the Murphysboro Fire Department.   He graduated from the University of Illinois’ Certified Firefighter II Academy in 1993 and continued to serve the Murphysboro Fire Department during his six terms as state representative.  Prior to that, Rep. Bost worked for 13 years at Bost Trucking Service, first as a driver and then for 10 years as a truck manager.

Rep. Bost is a lifelong resident of Murphysboro.  He graduated from Murphysboro High School in 1979.   After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps serving his country from 1979 to 1982.   He was trained as an electronic specialist and radar repairman and received an honorable discharge as a Corporal E-4.

In addition to his duties as a Member of Congress, Rep. Bost is very active in his church and community.   Rep. Bost and his wife, Tracy, own and operate a small business – the White House Salon – in Murphysboro.

Mike and Tracy have three children – Steven, Kasey Fred and Kaitlin Rose.  They have two sons-in-law, Travis Fred and Chad Rose, a daughter-in-law, Betsy, and eleven grandchildren.


Rep. John M. Shimkus has served in the Army, as a high school teacher, as a county treasurer, and as a Member of the United States House of Representatives.

Among his duties in Congress, John is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chairman of its Environment Subcommittee. He also serves on the Energy, Health, and Communications and Technology Subcommittees. He is a member of the Biotech, Wireless, NG9-1-1, Recycling, Coal, Steel, and Baltic Caucuses; in addition to representing the U.S. Congress in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

John married Karen Muth in 1987. They have three sons:  David, Joshua and Daniel. The Shimkus family maintains their residence in John’s hometown of Collinsville, where they are active members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School.

John received his Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1980. He served over five years active duty in the Army, then entered the Army Reserves. John retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on June 1, 2008. John earned his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1997.

In 1996 John won his first term as a United States Representative from what was then Illinois’ 20th District. From 2003-2013 he represented the 19th District and now he represents the 15th District, 33 counties that stretch from his hometown near St. Louis to the Indiana border and from Hoopeston south to Metropolis. Danville is the largest city in the 15th District.


Erika Harold is the GOP candidate for Attorney General in Illinois. Erika was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Chancellor’s Scholar from the University of Illinois. In 2003, Erika won the Miss America competition which provided scholarship money to pay for Harvard Law School and allowed her to travel the country on her platform to combat youth bullying. Erika became a national leader in the fight to end youth violence and bullying, sharing with more than 100,000 students her own experience of overcoming bullying. Erika was named one of Fight Crime, Invest in Kids’ “Champions for Children” and received a leadership award from the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Erika worked as an attorney in Chicago in the litigation groups of Sidley Austin LLP and Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C. Erika represented businesses in commercial disputes and advised religious institutions in matters involving First Amendment protections. Erika serves on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality and the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. Erika also serves on the national board of directors of Prison Fellowship, the world’s largest outreach to prisoners and their families, where she advocates for criminal justice reform and engages in prison ministry.

Additionally, Erika is a member of Trinity International University’s Board of Regents. Erika currently works as an attorney at Meyer Capel, one of Champaign County’s largest law firms.


Jim Webb is the current President of the Illinois Mining Institute.  Mr. Webb has an extensive background in coal mining and coal fired power generation.  He currently is the Coal Handling Supervisor at the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative.  He also worked as a mining engineer at Kerr McGee’s Galatia Mine for several years concentrating on their longwall mining operations.  Mr. Webb is also a current City Commissioner for the city of Marion, IL and is responsible for the City’s fire and police departments.

Webb earned a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, an M.S. in mining engineering from the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and an M.B.A from the American Intercontinental University in Chicago. He is a lifelong resident of Marion, Il where he resides with his wife Tracy and two children.






 CEO Roundtable: 

Alliance Coal Chief Executive Officer Joe Craft, Prairie State Energy Campus President and Chief Executive  Officer Don Gaston, Knight Hawk Coal President Steve Carter and President, CEO of White Stallion Energy, LLC Steven E. Chancellor and President of Americas Peabody Kemal Williamson will lead this year’s CEO roundtable, providing a deep insider’s look at the coal-mining industry and its future. Former coal miner and journalist Jim Muir will host the roundtable discussion.



Joe Craft is President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Alliance Resource Partners LP, the second-largest coal producer in the eastern United States.   ARLP operates mining complexes in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia and sells coal principally to electric utilities in the United States.  A native of Hazard, Kentucky, Mr. Craft holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Kentucky. He is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Program of the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Throughout his career, Mr. Craft has served in many industry and community leadership positions.  He currently serves as a director of BOK Financial Corporation, a director and chairman of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, a director and executive committee member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a member of the National Coal Council Chair’s Leadership Council, and is a past chairman of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.



Don Gaston is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Prairie State Energy Campus (PSEC). Mr. Gaston has an extensive professional background in supercritical fossil generation, comprehensive safety programs, environmental control technology, and marked performance in improving power plant reliability throughout his more than 35 years in the electric generation industry.

Prior to joining the Prairie State team in 2014, he served as the Director of Fossil Generation for the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), one of the 10 largest electric companies in the U.S. and New Jersey’s oldest and largest publicly owned utility. In this capacity, he was accountable for the successful management of safety, environmental compliance, reliability, and financial performance of 5800 megawatts of coal fired, oil fired, and natural gas generation. Throughout his career, Gaston has also held supercritical fossil generation and environmental management positions with Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

As President and CEO, Mr. Gaston is responsible for the overall direction and leadership of the PSEC, and oversees coordination with the Prairie State ownership group, which includes nine non-profit power companies serving 2.5 million member-owners across eight states.

Gaston earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a MBA from the University of Tennessee, and completed the TVA Executive Development Program at Vanderbilt University


Steve Carter is the President and co-owner of Knight Hawk Coal, LLC and has been active in the coal industry for over 40 years. Along with partners Red Robertson, Jim Bunn and son Jimmy Bunn, He started Knight Hawk Coal in 1997, opening the Creek Paum Mine in Jackson County, Illinois in May 1998.  Since that time, Knight Hawk has grown to include five surface and underground mines; employing 380 direct employees and 250 contractors and dedicated over-the-road truck drivers.  Knight Hawk Coal produces 5 million tons of Illinois Basin coal annually with total revenue of over $200 million.

Prior to starting Knight Hawk Coal, Carter was employed at Arch Mineral for 19 years in various capacities including tenures as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Planning and President of Arch of Illinois.  He is a CPA, holding a BS degree from Western Illinois University. Carter was recognized by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012.  Carter also serves on the Board of Banterra Bank and Banterra Corp.





Steven E. Chancellor presently serves as Chairman of American Patriot Holdings, LLC, the parent company of American Patriot Energy and White Stallion Energy, LLC and serves as the President and CEO of White Stallion Energy, LLC.  White Stallion is a mining company in the Illinois Basin.

Prior to forming American Patriot Holdings in 2004, Mr. Chancellor was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Black Beauty Coal Company, which he grew from a small business in 1976 to the largest privately held coal company in the eastern half of the United States.  Mr. Chancellor mined 25 million tons of coal annually in Southern Indiana and Southern Illinois prior to selling his remaining interest to Peabody Energy.   During his tenure at Black Beauty, Mr. Chancellor developed successful partnerships with Chevron and Peabody.

In addition to his 40 years in the coal industry, Mr. Chancellor has started successful ventures in a wide range of industries, including: defense, plastics, insurance, transportation and real-estate.  Mr. Chancellor also served as Chairman of AmeriQual Group, LLC, which he formed in 1987.  AmeriQual is the largest producer of Operational Rations for the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies.   In addition to its work with the military, AmeriQual produces a large variety of products for global food companies such as Nestle, Kraft, Tyson, General Mills and many others.   Former Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle, served on AmeriQual’s board.  He has had 40 years of relationships with Presidents and other political leaders in the USA and abroad.

Mr. Chancellor is a leader in worldwide wildlife conservation with particular emphasis on Africa.  He is the recipient of the Weatherby Foundation Magnum Award and the Safari Club International hunter award.

He has decades of involvement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and a past member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, appointed by President George W. Bush.  He is currently on the committee to advise Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke.

Mr. Chancellor is a lifelong resident of Evansville, Indiana where he resides with his wife, Terri, and has seven children.


Kemal Williamson is President – Americas for Peabody. He has executive responsibility for the company’s U.S. operating platform. He oversees the areas of health and safety; operations; product delivery; and support functions. Mr. Williamson brings more than 30 years of experience in mining engineering and operations roles across North America and Australia. He most recently was Group Executive of Operations for Peabody Australia. He also has held executive leadership roles across a number of project development areas, as well as positions overseeing the company’s Western U.S., Powder River Basin and Midwest operations. He joined the company in 2000 as Director of Land Management.

Prior to Peabody, he served two years at Cyprus Australia Coal Corporation as Director of Operations and managed coal operations in Australia for half a decade. He has mining engineering, financial analyst and management experience across Colorado, Kentucky and Illinois.
Mr. Williamson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mining engineering from Pennsylvania State University as well as a Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Peabody is the leading global pure-play company, serving power and steel customers in more than 25 countries on six continents. The company is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the iconic ticker symbol BTU. Peabody is guided by seven core values: safety, customer focus, leadership, people, excellence, integrity and sustainability.


Jim Muir worked as an underground coal miner at Old Ben 21 for 20 years. Muir began a writing career at Rend Lake College as a part-time writer for the school newspaper. He was then hired by the Benton Evening News and in 1997 was named City Editor. Muir also worked for Southern Illinoisan as a reporter and columnist.  In 2007, Muir launched Southern Illinois Sports Connection Magazine.  In 2008, he purchased Marion Living Magazine and in 2010 he launched Tennessee Sports Magazine.

IN 1993 Muir started doing play by play for Benton Rangers football, basketball, baseball and softball on WQRL-FM radio. He has also created various radio shows.

Muir received a prestigious Ilinois Associated Press Editor’s Association award in statewide competition in 1996 for a column he wrote entitled “Medals and Memories.” He also twice won the “Charlie Frierich Original Column Competition” sponsored by the Southern Illinois Editor’s Association and is the only writer to ever win the award twice.

Muir’s honors include “Outstanding Community Service Award” from Rend Lake College and were named RLC Alumnus of the Year in 2009.

In 2016 Muir entered politics and successfully ran for Franklin County Circuit Clerk, defeating an incumbent by winning 34 of 35 precincts in the county.

Muir is a graduate of Sesser-Valier High School and earned an associate degree from Rend Lake College.

Muir and his wife Lisa reside in Sesser and are the parents of six children and they also have 11 grandchildren  and one very-needy Daschsund named Dearie.