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Coal Mining And Processing

Coal is mined by two methods: surface or 'opencast' mining or underground or 'deep' mining.

Surface mining is used to produce most of the coal in the U.S. because it is less expensive than underground mining. Surface mining can be used when the coal is buried less than 200 feet underground. In surface mining, giant machines remove the top-soil and layers of rock to expose large beds of coal. Once the mining is finished, the dirt and rock are returned to the pit, the topsoil is replaced, and the area is replanted. The land can then be used for croplands, wildlife habitats, recreation, or offices or stores.

Underground mining, sometimes called deep mining, is used when the coal is buried several hundred feet below the surface. Some underground mines are 1,000 feet deep. To remove coal in these underground mines, miners ride elevators down deep mine shafts where they run machines that dig out the coal.

The Mining Process

    The flow of coal mining process on surface mining.

  • Topsoil removal.
  • Mining.
  • Stockpiling.
  • Hauling.
  • Ship loading.

    The flow of coal mining process on underground mine.

  • Wall mining.
  • Coal conveying.
  • Coal lifting.
  • Stockpiling processing, hauling.
  • Loading and marketing.

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