Citizens Coal Council’s current work on coal mining issues generally focuses on strip mining, blasting, mountaintop removal, and longwall mining. For background on these issues, please follow the links below.
Strip Mining Strip mining is a type of surface mining where the overlying vegetation, rock, and soil (overburden) is removed in order to reach the underlying coal seam, which usually lies a few feet beneath the surface. Explosives are used to fracture any overlying rock, and then heavy machinery is used to remove the overburden and dump... (read more)
Longwall Mining Longwall mining was first introduced in the United States in the early 1950s and was more frequently used in the late 1970s. Today longwall mining accounts for about one-third of total underground coal tonnage. This is accomplished because of the increased production from longwall mining, an underground mining technique that removes entire seams of coal... (read more)
Mountaintop Removal Mountaintop removal mining is an extremely destructive form of surface mining that primarily occurs in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States in which large quantities of overburden (soil, rock, and vegetation) are removed by blasting with explosives and heavy machinery to expose the underlying coal seam. The overburden is then dumped into valleys... (read more)
Blasting Blasting is used in surface mining as a method to fracture rock. The rock is drilled with holes, which are then filled with explosive materials, usually nitroglycerin, then capped with an inert material. The blast then is set off with detonators that splits the rock and exposes the coal seam, which, in surface mining, usually...(read more)