Coal Mining

coal mining, physical extraction of coal resources to yield coal; also, the business of exploring for, developing, mining, and transporting coal in any form. Strip mining is the process in which the overburden (earth and rock material overlying the coal) is removed to expose a coal seam or coal bed. Excavators either dispose of the overburden or store the waste material for replacement after the coal has been extracted. Once exposed, the coal is usually removed in a separate operation. Surface soil is often stripped separately and spread back onto the reclaimed surface. The environment can also be protected by seeding or planting grass or trees on the fertilized restored surface of a strip mine. The term strip mining is most often used in reference to coal mining, although the process may also be used to extract certain metallic ores as well. Sometimes the terms open-pit,open-cast, or surface mining are used in the same sense, although they usually refer to metalliferous mining or the mining of other minerals. Underground coal mining is the extraction of coal from below the surface of the earth. The coal is worked through tunnels, passages, and openings that are connected to the surface for the purpose of the removal of the coal. Mechanical equipment breaks the coal to a size suitable for haulage. Alternatively, the coal is drilled, and the resultant holes are loaded with explosives and blasted in order to break the coal to the desired size. In order to protect the miners and equipment in an underground coal mine, much attention is paid to maintaining and supporting a safe roof or overhead ceiling for the extraction openings. Long-wall mining is a method of underground mining believed to have been developed in Shropshire, England, near the end of the 17th cent. A long face, or working section, of coal, some 600 ft (180 m) in length, is operated at one time. The miners and machinery at the working face are usually protected by hydraulic jacks or mechanical props which are advanced as the coal is extracted. The excavated, or gob, area is either allowed to cave in, or is filled in by waste material called stowing. The Anderton shearer is a widely used coal cutter and loader for long-wall mining. It shears coal from the face as it moves in one direction and loads coal onto an armored conveyor as it travels back in the opposite direction. It is ordinarily used for coal seams greater than 3.5 ft (9.1 cm) in thickness.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Coal Mining: Selected full-text books and articles

In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World
Dan Rottenberg.
Routledge, 2003
Regulating Danger: The Struggle for Mine Safety in the Rocky Mountain Coal Industry
James Whiteside.
University of Nebraska Press, 1990
Risking the Lives of Coal Miners: The Miracle in the Mine at Quecreek Was a Feel-Good Story, but One That Also Raises Serious Questions about the Lack of Accountability of Coal-Mining Operations. (Nation: Coal Mining)
Cherry, Sheila R.
Insight on the News, Vol. 18, No. 33, September 9, 2002
Injuries and Illnesses among Bituminous and Lignite Coal Miners
Reardon, Jack.
Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 116, No. 10, October 1993
Coal and Unionism: A History of the American Coal Miners' Unions
David J. McDonald; Edward A. Lynch.
Cornelius Printing Company, 1939
The Challenge of Interracial Unionism: Alabama Coal Miners, 1878-1921
Daniel Letwin.
University of North Carolina Press, 1998
Moving the Earth: Cooperative Federalism and Implementation of the Surface Mining Act
Uday Desai.
Greenwood Press, 1993
Poor but Proud: Alabama's Poor Whites
Wayne Flynt.
University of Alabama Press, 1989
Monacans and Miners: Native American and Coal Mining Communities in Appalachia
Samuel R. Cook.
University of Nebraska Press, 2000
Mill & Mine: The CF&I in the Twentieth Century
H. Lee Scamehorn.
University of Nebraska Press, 1992
Electricity in the American Economy: Agent of Technological Progress
Sam H. Schurr; Calvin C. Burwell; Warren D. Devine Jr.; Sidney Sonenblum.
Greenwood Press, 1990
Soft Coal, Hard Choices: The Economic Welfare of Bituminous Coal Miners, 1890-1930
Price V. Fishback.
Oxford University Press, 1992
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