Coal Mining Essay

612 words - 2 pages

Coal Mining

Coal, a mineral I have discussed previously, is necessary to our everyday lives. Coal is an incredible source of energy; it heats our houses and buildings, and also fuels stoves. You may often wonder where this extremely useful mineral comes from. Coal does not just appear; it needs to be mined through a process which results in our being able to utilize it. Coal mining is fairly inexpensive, is carried out on a large scale and can be mined in either underground or surface mines.

Surface mining is the coal mining process that accounts for around 60% of the United States’ coal. It tends to be very efficient, with a single worker recovering up to 30 to 40 tons of coal in a day. To begin surface mining coal, a drill must first probe the area to be mined in order to determine the depth of the coal as well as the overburden which lies on top of the coal. Bulldozers are then used to strip away the topsoil, which is then put into piles and later replace the stripped areas of earth. Next, large, even enormous equipment called draglines are used to remove more and more of the overburden, as the stripping becomes deeper and deeper. After this process, machines called track-dozers fracture the coal, making it possible for cranes or bulldozers to scoop out the coal and transport it to crushers. Now, the topsoil that was set aside at the beginning is replaced. This process is called reclamation. The mined areas can then be used for a variety of things: from parks to farmland, to sites for racetracks, something Pennsylvania is considering for their reclaimed surface mine areas. After the coal has been removed form the earth, it is still not ready for use; it must first be refined. Coal must first be separated form foreign materials, for...

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