Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the ground.
valued for its energy content, and, since the 1880s, has been widely
used to generate electricity.
Steel and cement industries use coal as
a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production.
In the United Kingdom and South Africa, a coal mine and its structures
are a colliery, a coal mine a pit, and the above-ground structures the
pit head. In Australia, "colliery" generally refers to an underground
coal mine. In the United States, "colliery" has been used to describe
a coal mine operation but nowadays the word is not commonly used.
Coal mining has had many developments over the recent years, from the
early days of men tunnelling, digging and manually extracting the coal
on carts, to large open cut and long wall mines. Mining at this scale
requires the use of draglines, trucks, conveyors, hydraulic jacks and
2 Methods of extraction
2.1 Surface mining
2.1.1 Strip mining
2.1.2 Contour mining
Mountaintop removal mining
2.2 Underground mining
4 Modern mining
5.1 Dangers to miners
5.2 Dangers from mining waste
5.3 Safety Improvements
6 Environmental impacts
Coal mining by country
7.12 South Africa
7.15 United Kingdom
7.16 United States
8 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Main article: History of coal mining
Ships have been used to haul coal since Roman times.
Small-scale mining of surface deposits dates back thousands of years.
For example, in Roman Britain, the Romans were exploiting most of the
major coalfields by the late 2nd century AD.
The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the 18th century
and later spread to continental Europe and North America, was based on
the availability of coal to power steam engines. International trade
expanded rapidly when coal-fed steam engines were built for the
railways and steamships.
Until the late nineteenth century coal was mined underground using a
pick and shovel, and children were often employed underground in
dangerous conditions. Coal-cutting machines were introduced in the
1880s. By 1912, surface mining was conducted with steam shovels
designed for coal mining.
Methods of extraction
The most economical method of coal extraction from coal seams depends
on the depth and quality of the seams, and the geology and
Coal mining processes are differentiated by
whether they operate on the surface or underground. Many coals
extracted from both surface and underground mines require washing in a
coal preparation plant. Technical and economic feasibility are
evaluated based on the following: regional geological conditions;
overburden characteristics; coal seam continuity, thickness,
structure, quality, and depth; strength of materials above and below
the seam for roof and floor conditions; topography (especially
altitude and slope); climate; land ownership as it affects the
availability of land for mining and access; surface drainage patterns;
ground water conditions; availability of labor and materials; coal
purchaser requirements in terms of tonnage, quality, and destination;
and capital investment requirements.
Surface mining and deep underground mining are the two basic methods
of mining. The choice of mining method depends primarily on depth,
density, overburden and thickness of the coal seam; seams relatively
close to the surface, at depths less than approximately 180 ft
(55 m), are usually surface mined.
Coal that occurs at depths of 180 to 300 ft (55 to 90 m) are
usually deep mined, but in some cases surface mining techniques can be
used. For example, some western U.S. coal that occur at depths in
excess of 200 ft (60 m) are mined by the open pit methods,
due to thickness of the seam 60–90 feet (20–25 metres). Coals
occurring below 300 ft (90 m) are usually deep mined.
However, there are open pit mining operations working on coal seams up
to 1,000–1,500 feet (300–460 metres) below ground level, for
Tagebau Hambach in Germany.
Trucks loaded with coal at the
Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia
When coal seams are near the surface, it may be economical to extract
the coal using open cut (also referred to as open cast, open pit,
mountaintop removal or strip) mining methods. Open cast coal mining
recovers a greater proportion of the coal deposit than underground
methods, as more of the coal seams in the strata may be exploited.
This equipment can include the following: Draglines which operate by
removing the overburden, power shovels, large trucks in which
transport overburden and coal, bucket wheel excavators, and conveyors.
In this mining method, explosives are first used in order to break
through the surface or overburden, of the mining area. The overburden
is then removed by draglines or by shovel and truck. Once the coal
seam is exposed, it is drilled, fractured and thoroughly mined in
strips. The coal is then loaded onto large trucks or conveyors for
transport to either the coal preparation plant or directly to where it
will be used.
Most open cast mines in the
United States extract bituminous coal. In
Australia and South Africa, open cast mining is used for
both thermal and metallurgical coals. In
New South Wales
New South Wales open casting
for steam coal and anthracite is practiced.
Surface mining accounts
for around 80 percent of production in Australia, while in the US it
is used for about 67 percent of production. Globally, about 40 percent
of coal production involves surface mining.
Strip mining exposes coal by removing earth above each coal seam. This
earth is referred to as overburden and is removed in long strips. The
overburden from the first strip is deposited in an area outside the
planned mining area and referred to as out-of-pit dumping. Overburden
from subsequent strips are deposited in the void left from mining the
coal and overburden from the previous strip. This is referred to as
It is often necessary to fragment the overburden by use of explosives.
This is accomplished by drilling holes into the overburden, filling
the holes with explosives, and detonating the explosive. The
overburden is then removed, using large earth-moving equipment, such
as draglines, shovel and trucks, excavator and trucks, or
bucket-wheels and conveyors. This overburden is put into the
previously mined (and now empty) strip. When all the overburden is
removed, the underlying coal seam will be exposed (a 'block' of coal).
This block of coal may be drilled and blasted (if hard) or otherwise
loaded onto trucks or conveyors for transport to the coal preparation
(or wash) plant. Once this strip is empty of coal, the process is
repeated with a new strip being created next to it. This method is
most suitable for areas with flat terrain.
Equipment to be used depends on geological conditions. For example, to
remove overburden that is loose or unconsolidated, a bucket wheel
excavator might be the most productive. The life of some area mines
may be more than 50 years.
The contour mining method consists of removing overburden from the
seam in a pattern following the contours along a ridge or around the
hillside. This method is most commonly used in areas with rolling to
steep terrain. It was once common to deposit the spoil on the
downslope side of the bench thus created, but this method of spoil
disposal consumed much additional land and created severe landslide
and erosion problems. To alleviate these problems, a variety of
methods were devised to use freshly cut overburden to refill mined-out
areas. These haul-back or lateral movement methods generally consist
of an initial cut with the spoil deposited downslope or at some other
site and spoil from the second cut refilling the first. A ridge of
undisturbed natural material 15 to 20 ft (5 to 6 m) wide is
often intentionally left at the outer edge of the mined area. This
barrier adds stability to the reclaimed slope by preventing spoil from
slumping or sliding downhill
The limitations of contour strip mining are both economic and
technical. When the operation reaches a predetermined stripping ratio
(tons of overburden/tons of coal), it is not profitable to continue.
Depending on the equipment available, it may not be technically
feasible to exceed a certain height of highwall. At this point, it is
possible to produce more coal with the augering method in which spiral
drills bore tunnels into a highwall laterally from the bench to
extract coal without removing the overburden.
Mountaintop removal mining
Main article: Mountaintop removal
Mountaintop coal mining is a surface mining practice involving removal
of mountaintops to expose coal seams, and disposing of associated
mining overburden in adjacent "valley fills." Valley fills occur in
steep terrain where there are limited disposal alternatives.
Mountaintop removal combines area and contour strip mining methods. In
areas with rolling or steep terrain with a coal seam occurring near
the top of a ridge or hill, the entire top is removed in a series of
Overburden is deposited in nearby valleys and hollows.
This method usually leaves ridge and hill tops as flattened
plateaus. The process is highly controversial for the drastic
changes in topography, the practice of creating head-of-hollow-fills,
or filling in valleys with mining debris, and for covering streams and
Spoil is placed at the head of a narrow, steep-sided valley or hollow.
In preparation for filling this area, vegetation and soil are removed
and a rock drain constructed down the middle of the area to be filled,
where a natural drainage course previously existed. When the fill is
completed, this underdrain will form a continuous water runoff system
from the upper end of the valley to the lower end of the fill. Typical
head-of-hollow fills are graded and terraced to create permanently
Main article: Underground mining (soft rock)
Coal wash plant in Clay County, Kentucky
Most coal seams are too deep underground for opencast mining and
require underground mining, a method that currently accounts for about
60 percent of world coal production. In deep mining, the room and
pillar or bord and pillar method progresses along the seam, while
pillars and timber are left standing to support the mine roof. Once
room and pillar mines have been developed to a stopping point (limited
by geology, ventilation, or economics), a supplementary version of
room and pillar mining, termed second mining or retreat mining, is
commonly started. Miners remove the coal in the pillars, thereby
recovering as much coal from the coal seam as possible. A work area
involved in pillar extraction is called a pillar section.
Modern pillar sections use remote-controlled equipment, including
large hydraulic mobile roof-supports, which can prevent cave-ins until
the miners and their equipment have left a work area. The mobile roof
supports are similar to a large dining-room table, but with hydraulic
jacks for legs. After the large pillars of coal have been mined away,
the mobile roof support's legs shorten and it is withdrawn to a safe
area. The mine roof typically collapses once the mobile roof supports
leave an area.
Remote Joy HM21 Continuous Miner used underground
There are six principal methods of underground mining:
Longwall mining accounts for about 50 percent of underground
production. The longwall shearer has a face of 1,000 feet (300 m)
or more. It is a sophisticated machine with a rotating drum that moves
mechanically back and forth across a wide coal seam. The loosened coal
falls onto an armored chain conveyor or pan line that takes the coal
to the conveyor belt for removal from the work area. Longwall systems
have their own hydraulic roof supports which advance with the machine
as mining progresses. As the longwall mining equipment moves forward,
overlying rock that is no longer supported by coal is allowed to fall
behind the operation in a controlled manner. The supports make
possible high levels of production and safety. Sensors detect how much
coal remains in the seam while robotic controls enhance efficiency.
Longwall systems allow a 60-to-100 percent coal recovery rate when
surrounding geology allows their use. Once the coal is removed,
usually 75 percent of the section, the roof is allowed to collapse in
a safe manner.
Continuous mining utilizes a Continuous Miner Machine with a large
rotating steel drum equipped with tungsten carbide picks that scrape
coal from the seam. Operating in a "room and pillar" (also known as
"bord and pillar") system—where the mine is divided into a series of
20-to-30-foot (5–10 m) "rooms" or work areas cut into the
coalbed—it can mine as much as 14 tons of coal a minute, more than a
non-mechanised mine of the 1920s would produce in an entire day.
Continuous miners account for about 45 percent of underground coal
production. Conveyors transport the removed coal from the seam.
Remote-controlled continuous miners are used to work in a variety of
difficult seams and conditions, and robotic versions controlled by
computers are becoming increasingly common.
Continuous mining is a
misnomer, as room and pillar coal mining is very cyclical. In the US,
one can generally cut 20 feet (6 meters) (or a bit more with MSHA
permission) (12 meters or roughly 40 ft in
South Africa before
the Continuous Miner goes out and the roof is supported by the Roof
Bolter), after which, the face has to be serviced, before it can be
advanced again. During servicing, the "continuous" miner moves to
another face. Some continuous miners can bolt and rock dust the face
(two major components of servicing) while cutting coal, while a
trained crew may be able to advance ventilation, to truly earn the
"continuous" label. However, very few mines are able to achieve it.
Most continuous mining machines in use in the US lack the ability to
bolt and dust. This may partly be because incorporation of bolting
makes the machines wider, and therefore, less maneuverable.[citation
Room and pillar
Room and pillar mining consists of coal deposits that are mined by
cutting a network of rooms into the coal seam. Pillars of coal are
left behind in order to keep up the roof. The pillars can make up to
forty percent of the total coal in the seam, however where there was
space to leave head and floor coal there is evidence from recent open
cast excavations that 18th-century operators used a variety of room
and pillar techniques to remove 92 percent of the in situ coal.
However, this can be extracted at a later stage (see retreat
Blast mining or conventional mining, is an older practice that uses
explosives such as dynamite to break up the coal seam, after which the
coal is gathered and loaded onto shuttle cars or conveyors for removal
to a central loading area. This process consists of a series of
operations that begins with “cutting” the coalbed so it will break
easily when blasted with explosives. This type of mining accounts for
less than 5 percent of total underground production in the US
Shortwall mining, a method currently accounting for less than 1
percent of deep coal production, involves the use of a continuous
mining machine with movable roof supports, similar to longwall. The
continuous miner shears coal panels 150 to 200 feet (45 to 60 metres)
wide and more than a half-mile (1 km) long, having regard to
factors such as geological strata.
Retreat mining is a method in which the pillars or coal ribs used to
hold up the mine roof are extracted; allowing the mine roof to
collapse as the mining works back towards the entrance. This is one of
the most dangerous forms of mining, owing to imperfect predictability
of when the roof will collapse and possibly crush or trap workers in
the mine.
Coal production trends 1980-2012 in the top five coal-producing
countries (US EIA)
Coal mine in China
Coal mine in Australia
Main article: Major coal producing regions
Coal is mined commercially in over 50 countries. Over 7,036 Mt/yr of
hard coal was produced in 2007, a substantial increase over the
previous 25 years. In 2006, the world production of brown coal
(lignite) was slightly over 1,000 Mt, with
Germany the world’s
largest brown coal producer at 194.4 Mt, and
China second at 100.6
Coal production has grown fastest in Asia, while Europe has declined.
Since 2013, the world coal production is decreasing, -6% in 2016.
The top coal mining nations are:
2009 estimate of total coal production
Most coal production is used in the country of origin, with around 16
percent of hard coal production being exported.
Coal reserves are available in almost every country worldwide, with
recoverable reserves in around 70 countries. At current production
levels, proven coal reserves are estimated to last 147 years.
However, production levels are by no means level, and are in fact
increasing and some estimates are that peak coal could arrive in many
countries such as
China and America by around 2030.
Coal reserves are
usually stated as either (1) "Resources" ("measured" + "indicated" +
"inferred" = "resources", and then, a smaller number, often only
10-20% of "resources," (2) "Run of Mine" (ROM) reserves, and finally
(3) "marketable reserves", which may be only 60% of ROM
reserves.[clarification needed] The standards for reserves are set by
stock exchanges, in consultation with industry associations. For
example, in ASEAN countries reserves standards follow the Australasian
Joint Ore Reserves Committee Code (JORC) used by the Australian
Laser profiling of a minesite by a coal miner using a Maptek I-site
laser scanner in 2014
Technological advancements have made coal mining today more productive
than it has ever been. To keep up with technology and to extract coal
as efficiently as possible modern mining personnel must be highly
skilled and well trained in the use of complex, state-of-the-art
instruments and equipment. Many jobs require four-year university
degrees. Computer knowledge has also become greatly valued within the
industry as most of the machines and safety monitors are computerized.
The use of sophisticated sensing equipment to monitor air quality is
common and has replaced the use of small animals such as canaries,
often referred to as "miner's canaries".
In the United States, the increase in technology has significantly
decreased the mining workforce. in 2015 US coal mines had 65,971
employees, the lowest figure since EIA began collecting data in
1978. However, a 2016 study reported that a relatively minor
investment would allow most coal workers to retrain for the solar
Mine safety and Mining accident
Dangers to miners
The Farmington coal mine disaster kills 78. West Virginia, US, 1968.
Historically, coal mining has been a very dangerous activity and the
list of historical coal mining disasters is a long one. In the US
alone, more than 100,000 coal miners were killed in accidents in the
twentieth century, 90 percent of the fatalities occurring in the
first half of the century. More than 3,200 died in 1907 alone.
Open cut hazards are principally mine wall failures and vehicle
collisions; underground mining hazards include suffocation, gas
poisoning, roof collapse, rock burst, outbursts, and gas explosions.
Firedamp explosions can trigger the much-more-dangerous coal dust
explosions, which can engulf an entire pit. Most of these risks can be
greatly reduced in modern mines, and multiple fatality incidents are
now rare in some parts of the developed world. Modern mining in the US
results in approximately 30 deaths per year due to mine accidents.
However, in lesser developed countries and some developing countries,
many miners continue to die annually, either through direct accidents
in coal mines or through adverse health consequences from working
under poor conditions. China, in particular, has the highest number of
coal mining related deaths in the world, with official statistics
claiming that 6,027 deaths occurred in 2004. To compare, 28 deaths
were reported in the US in the same year.
Coal production in China
is twice that in the US, while the number of coal miners is around
50 times that of the US, making deaths in coal mines in
China 4 times
as common per worker (108 times as common per unit output) as in the
Mine disasters have still occurred in recent years in the US,
Examples include the
Sago Mine disaster of 2006, and the 2007 mine
accident in Utah's Crandall Canyon Mine, where nine miners were killed
and six entombed. In the decade 2005-2014, US coal mining
fatalities averaged 28 per year. The most fatalities during the
2005-2014 decade were 48 in 2010, the year of the Upper Big Branch
Mine disaster in West Virginia, which killed 29 miners.
Miners can be regularly monitored for reduced lung function due to
coal dust exposure using spirometry.
Chronic lung diseases, such as pneumoconiosis (black lung) were once
common in miners, leading to reduced life expectancy. In some mining
countries black lung is still common, with 4,000 new cases of black
lung every year in the US (4 percent of workers annually) and 10,000
new cases every year in
China (0.2 percent of workers). Rates may
be higher than reported in some regions.
Build-ups of a hazardous gas are known as damps, possibly from the
German word "Dampf" which means steam or vapor:
Black damp: a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in a mine can
cause suffocation, and is formed as a result of corrosion in enclosed
spaces so removing oxygen from the atmosphere.
After damp: similar to black damp, after damp consists of carbon
monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen and forms after a mine
Fire damp: consists of mostly methane, a highly flammable gas that
explodes between 5% and 15% - at 25% it causes asphyxiation.
Stink damp: so named for the rotten egg smell of the hydrogen sulphide
gas, stink damp can explode and is also very toxic.
White damp: air containing carbon monoxide which is toxic, even at low
Dangers from mining waste
In the 1966
Aberfan disaster in Wales, a colliery spoil tip collapsed,
engulfing a school and killing 116 children and 28 adults. Other
accidents involving coal waste include the Martin County coal slurry
spill (USA, 2000) and the
Obed Mountain coal mine spill
Obed Mountain coal mine spill (Canada,
A video on the use of roof screens in underground coal mines
Improvements in mining methods (e.g. longwall mining), hazardous gas
monitoring (such as safety-lamps or more modern electronic gas
monitors), gas drainage, electrical equipment, and ventilation have
reduced many of the risks of rock falls, explosions, and unhealthy air
quality. Gases released during the mining process can be recovered to
generate electricity and improve worker safety with gas engines.
Another innovation in recent years is the use of closed circuit escape
respirators, respirators that contain oxygen for situations where mine
ventilation is compromised. Statistical analyses performed by the
US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration
(MSHA) show that between 1990 and 2004, the industry cut the rate of
injuries by more than half and fatalities by two-thirds. However,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even in 2006, mining
remained the second most dangerous occupation in America, when
measured by fatality rate.[verification needed] However, these
numbers include all mining, with oil and gas mining contributing the
majority of fatalities; coal mining resulted in only 47 fatalities
Main article: Environmental impact of the coal industry
Environmental activists blocking a coal mine to promote fossil fuel
Coal mining can result in a number of adverse effects on the
Surface mining of coal completely eliminates existing vegetation,
destroys the genetic soil profile, displaces or destroys wildlife and
habitat, degrades air quality, alters current land uses, and to some
extent permanently changes the general topography of the area
mined. This often results in a scarred landscape with no scenic
value. Of greater concern, the movement, storage, and redistribution
of soil during mining can disrupt the community of soil microorganisms
and consequently nutrient cycling processes. Rehabilitation or
reclamation mitigates some of these concerns and is required by US
Federal Law, specifically the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation
Act of 1977.
Mine dumps (tailings) could produce acid mine drainage which can seep
into waterways and aquifers, with consequences on ecological and human
If underground mine tunnels collapse, they cause subsidence of the
Subsidence can damage buildings, and disrupt the flow of
streams and rivers by interfering with the natural drainage.
Coal production is a major contributor to global warming: burning coal
generates large quantities of carbon dioxide and mining operations can
release methane, a known greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The coal
mining industry is working to improve its public image.
Coal mining by country
Coal in Europe
The six largest countries by coal production in 2015 as determined by
the US Energy Information Agency.
Top 10 hard and brown coal producers in 2012 were (in million metric
United States 922,
South Africa 261,
Coal mining in Australia
Coal is mined in every state of Australia, but mainly in Queensland,
New South Wales
New South Wales and Victoria. It is mostly used to generate
electricity, and 75% of annual coal production is exported, mostly to
In 2007, 428 million tonnes of coal was mined in Australia. In
2007, coal provided about 85% of Australia's electricity
production. In fiscal year 2008/09, 487 million tonnes of coal was
mined, and 261 million tonnes was exported. In fiscal year
2013/14, 430.9 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 375.1 million
tonnes was exported. In 2013/14, coal provided about 69% of
Australia's electricity production.
Australia was the world's fifth-largest coal producer, after
China, the United States, India, and Indonesia. However, in terms of
proportion of production exported,
Australia is the world's second
largest coal exporter, as it exports roughly 73% of its coal
Indonesia exports about 87% of its coal production.
Canada was ranked as the 15th coal producing country in the world in
2010, with a total production of 67.9 million tonnes. Canada's coal
reserves, the 12th largest in the world, are located largely in the
province of Alberta.
The first coal mines in North America were located in
Joggins and Port
Morien, Nova Scotia, mined by French settlers beginning in the late
1600s. The coal was used for the British garrison at Annapolis Royal,
and in construction of the Fortress of Louisbourg.
Coal mining in Chile
Compared to other South American countries Chile has limited coal
resources. Only Argentina is similarly poor.
Coal is Chile is
mostly sub-bituminous with the exception of the bituminous coals of
Arauco Basin in central Chile.
Coal power in China
The People's Republic of
China is by far the largest producer of coal
in the world, producing over 2.8 billion tons of coal in 2007, or
approximately 39.8 percent of all coal produced in the world during
that year. For comparison, the second largest producer, the United
States, produced more than 1.1 billion tons in 2007. An estimated 5
million people work in China's coal-mining industry. As many as 20,000
miners die in accidents each year. Most Chinese mines are deep
underground and do not produce the surface disruption typical of strip
mines. Although there is some evidence of reclamation of mined land
for use as parks,
China does not require extensive reclamation and is
creating significant acreages of abandoned mined land, which is
unsuitable for agriculture or other human uses, and inhospitable to
indigenous wildlife. Chinese underground mines often experience severe
surface subsidence (6–12 meters), negatively impacting farmland
because it no longer drains well.
China uses some subsidence areas for
aquaculture ponds but has more than they need for that purpose.
Reclamation of subsided ground is a significant problem in China.
Because most Chinese coal is for domestic consumption, and is burned
with little or no air pollution control equipment, it contributes
greatly to visible smoke and severe air pollution in industrial areas
using coal for fuel. China's total energy uses 67% from coal mines.
An open-pit coal mine in the
Rhineland lignite mining area (Germany).
Some of the world's largest coal reserves are located in South
America, and an opencast mine at
Colombia is one of the
world's largest open pit mines. Output of the mine in 2004 was 24.9
million tons (compared to total global hard coal production of 4,600
Cerrejón contributed about half of Colombia's coal
exports of 52 million tons that year, with
Colombia ranked sixth among
major coal exporting nations. The company planned to expand production
to 32 million tons by 2008. The company has its own 150 km
standard-gauge railroad, connecting the mine to its coal-loading
terminal at Puerto Bolívar on the Caribbean coast. There are two
120-car unit trains, each carrying 12,000 tons of coal per trip. The
round-trip time for each train, including loading and unloading, is
about 12 hours. The coal facilities at the port are capable of loading
4,800 tons per hour onto vessels of up to 175,000 tons of dead weight.
The mine, railroad and port operate 24 hours per day. Cerrejón
directly employs 4,600 workers, with a further 3,800 employed by
contractors. The reserves at
Cerrejón are low-sulfur, low-ash,
bituminous coal. The coal is mostly used for electric power
generation, with some also used in steel manufacture. The surface
mineable reserves for the current contract are 330 million tons.
However, total proven reserves to a depth of 300 metres are 3,000
The expansion of the
Cerrejón mine has been blamed for the forced
displacement of local communities.
Germany has a long history of coal mining, going back to the Middle
Coal mining greatly increased during the industrial revolution
and the following decades. The main mining areas were around Aachen,
Ruhr and Saar area, along with many smaller areas in other parts
of Germany. These areas grew and were shaped by coal mining and coal
processing, and this is still visible even after the end of the coal
Coal mining reached its peak in the first half of the 20th century.
After 1950, the coal producers started to struggle financially. In
1975, a subsidy was introduced (Kohlepfennig). In 2007, the Bundestag
decided to end subsidies by 2018. As a consequence, RAG
Aktiengesellschaft, the owner of the two remaining coal mines in
Germany, announced it would close all mines by 2018, thus ending coal
mining in Germany.
Coal mining in India
Coal mining in
India has a long history of commercial exploitation
starting in 1774 with John Sumner and
Suetonius Grant Heatly
Suetonius Grant Heatly of the
India Company in the
Raniganj Coalfield along the Western bank of
Damodar River. Demand for coal remained low until the introduction of
steam locomotives in 1853. After this, production rose to an annual
average of 1 Mt and
India produced 6.12 Mt per year by 1900 and 18 Mt
per year by 1920, following increased demand in the First World War,
but went through a slump in the early thirties. The production reached
a level of 29 Mt by 1942 and 30 Mt by 1946. After independence, the
country embarked upon five-year development plans. At the beginning of
the 1st Plan, annual production went up to 33 Mt. During the 1st Plan
period, the need for increasing coal production efficiently by
systematic and scientific development of the coal industry was being
felt. Setting up the National
Coal Development Corporation (NCDC), a
India undertaking, in 1956 with the collieries owned by
the railways as its nucleus was the first major step towards planned
development of Indian
Coal Industry. Along with the Singareni
Collieries Company Ltd. (SCCL) which was already in operation since
1945 and which became a government company under the control of
Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1956,
India thus had two Government
coal companies in the fifties. SCCL is now a joint undertaking of
Government of Telangana and Government of India.
The Daikōdō (大抗道), the first adit of the Horonai mine
(1879).(also known as the Otowakõ (音羽坑))
Main article: List of coal mines in Japan
The richest Japanese coal deposits have been found on Hokkaidō and
Japan has a long history of coal mining dating back into the Japanese
Middle Ages. It is said that coal was first discovered in 1469 by a
farming couple near Ōmuta, central Kyūshū. In 1478, farmers
discovered burning stones in the north of the island, which led to the
exploitation of the Chikuhõ coalfield.
Following Japanese industrialization additional coalfields were
discovered northern Japan. One of the first mines in Hokkaidō was the
Hokutan Horonai coal mine.
Coal mining in Poland
Russia ranked as the fifth largest coal producing country in 2010,
with a total production of 316.9 Mt.
Russia has the world's second
largest coal reserves.
Russia and Norway share the coal resources
of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, under the Svalbard
Spain was ranked as the 30th coal producing country in the world in
2010. The coal miners of Spain were active in the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War on
the Republican side. In October 1934, in Asturias, union miners and
others suffered a fifteen-day siege in Oviedo and Gijon. There is a
museum dedicated to coal mining in the region of Catalonia, called
Cercs Mine Museum.
South Africa § Mining
South Africa is one of the ten largest coal producing
countries and the fourth largest coal exporting country in
Abandoned coal mine in Pingxi, New Taipei.
In Taiwan, coal is distributed mainly in the northern area. All of the
commercial coal deposits occurred in three
formations, which are the Upper, the Middle and the Lower Coal
Measures. The Middle
Coal Measures was the most important with its
wide distribution, great number of coal beds and extensive potential
Taiwan has coal reserves estimated to be 100-180 Mt.
However, coal output had been small, amounting to 6,948 metric tonnes
per month from 4 pits before it ceased production effectively in
2000. The abandoned coal mine in Pingxi District,
New Taipei has
now turned into the
Coal Mine Museum.
Coal in Ukraine
In 2012 coal production in
Ukraine amounted to 85.946 million tonnes,
up 4.8% from 2011.
Coal consumption that same year grew to 61.207
million tonnes, up 6.2% compared with 2011.
More than 90 percent of Ukraine’s coal production comes from the
Donets Basin. The country's coal industry employs about 500,000
people. Ukrainian coal mines are among the most dangerous in the
world, and accidents are common. Furthermore, the country is
plagued with extremely dangerous illegal mines.
Coal mining in the United Kingdom
A view of Murton colliery near Seaham, United Kingdom, 1843
Before the industrial revolution much of the coal was used near to its
production, although there was an active trade along the North Sea
coast supplying coal to
Yorkshire and London.
Many coalfields were developed in the industrial revolution. The
oldest were in Newcastle and Durham, South Wales, the
Central Belt of
Scotland and the Midlands, such as those at Coalbrookdale. The oldest
continuously worked deep-mine in the United Kingdom was Tower Colliery
South Wales coalfield. This colliery was developed in 1805, and
its miners bought it out at the end of the 20th century, to prevent it
from being closed.
Tower Colliery was finally closed on 25 January
The United Kingdom was ranked as the 24th coal producing country in
the world in 2010, with a total production of 18.2 million tonnes.
Coal mining in the United Kingdom probably dates to Roman times; coal
production increased significantly during the
Industrial Revolution in
the 19th century and peaked during World War I. As a result of its
long history with coal Britain's economically recoverable coal
reserves have decreased, and more than twice as much coal is now
imported than produced.
Miners at the Virginia-Pocahontas
Coal Company Mine in 1974
Coal mining in the United States
Further information: List of coal mines in the United States
Coal was mined in America in the early 18th century, and commercial
mining started around 1730 in Midlothian, Virginia.
The American share of world coal production remained steady at about
20 percent from 1980 to 2005, at about 1 billion short tons per year.
United States was ranked as the second highest coal producing
country in the world in 2010, and possesses the largest coal reserves
in the world. In 2008 then-
President George W. Bush
President George W. Bush stated that coal
was the most reliable source of electricity. However, in 2011
Barack Obama said that the US should rely more on "clean"
sources of energy that emit lower or no carbon dioxide pollution.
For a time, while domestic coal consumption for electric power was
being displaced by natural gas, exports were increasing. US net
coal exports increased ninefold from 2006 to 2012, peaked at 117
million short tons in 2012, then declined to 63 million tons in 2015.
In 2015, 60% of net US exports went to Europe, 27% to Asia.US coal
production increasingly comes from strip mines in the western United
States, such as from the
Powder River Basin
Powder River Basin in
Coal has come under continued price pressure from natural gas and
renewable energy sources, which has resulted in a rapid decline of
coal in the U.S. and several notable bankruptcies including Peabody
Energy. On 13 April 2016 it reported, that its revenue had reduced by
17 percent as coal prices fell and that it had lost two billion
dollars the previous year. It then filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on
13 April 2016. The
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review discussed retraining
coal workers for solar photovoltaic employment because of the rapid
rise in U.S. solar jobs. A 2016 study indicated that this was
technically possible and would account for only 5% of the industrial
revenue from a single year to provide coal workers with job security
in the energy industry as whole.
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump pledged to bring back coal jobs during the 2016
US presidential election, and as president he announced plans to
reduce environmental protection. However, industry observers have
warned that this might not lead to a boom in mining jobs
Acid mine drainage
Black lung disease
George Bretz (photographer)
Coal preparation plant
Coal slurry impoundment
Environmental impact of the coal industry
List of books about coal mining
Problems in coal mining
Recovering of heat from old coal mines
Environmental justice and coal mining in Appalachia
Earth sciences portal
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Coal Institute -
Coal Facts 2007
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Gas Utilisation, www.clarke-energy.com
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Occupational Safety and Health: Making for a "Super" Workplace".
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Coal Industry Casts Itself as a
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^ "Where The
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^ "DIGGING DEEPER: THE HUMAN RIGHTS IMPACTS OF COAL IN THE GLOBAL
^ "Carbones del
Cerrejón y Responsabilidad Social: Una revisión
independiente de los impactos y del objetivo" (PDF).
^ Kodama Kiyoomi, Sekitan no gijutsushi, p.19
^ Honda Tatsumi, Honda Tatsumi shashinshũ tankō ōsai, p.165
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Coal Mining in
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Coal Archived 23 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.,
Ukraine mine blast leaves 16 dead,
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Chirons, Nicholas P.
Coal Age Handbook of
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and the USA (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005).
Coal Mining (2004), 32 pp
Hughes. Herbert W, A Text-Book of Mining: For the use of colliery
managers and others (London, many editions 1892-1917), the standard
British textbook for its era.
Coal Mining in
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Tonge, James. The principles and practice of coal mining (1906)
Woytinsky, W. S., and E. S. Woytinsky. World Population and Production
Trends and Outlooks (1953) pp 840–881; with many tables and maps on
the worldwide coal industry in 1950
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikiquote has quotations related to:
Look up colliery in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Glossary of Mining Terms
Coal Mine exploration and preservation
Abandoned Mine Research
Methods of mining – overview and graphic of coal mining methods
Coal Mining in the British Isles (Northern Mine Research Society)
Coal Mining Museum for England
Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program
Purdue University – Petroleum and Coal
University of Wollongong – educational resource on longwall mining
Virtual coalmine – visual e-learning source with comprehensive
display of long-wall face
Coal Institute –
Coal types by grade
(lowest to highest)
Black coal equivalent
Coal pollution mitigation
Coal preparation plant
Coal seam fire
Environmental impact of the coal industry
Peat is considered a precursor to coal.
Graphite is only
technically considered a coal type.