Coal mining methods can be classified into two broad categories – surface mining and underground mining. The geology of the coal deposit determines what kind of method needs to be used.
At the existing rate of production, an estimated figure of 861 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide means that there is adequate coal to last us around over a century. In contrast, proven oil and gas deposits are correspondent to around 46 and 54 years at current production rate.
As previously stated, coal mining methods are largely determined by the geology of the coal deposit. Another term for surface mining is referred to as opencast / open-cut mining and is only extractable once the coal deposits are close to the earth’s crust. Opencast coal mining recuperates a higher quantity of the coal deposit compared to underground mining. Huge opencast mines can size up to several square kilometres and the kinds of specialised equipment are as follows:
- Draglines are responsible for the removal of overburden power shovels.
- Huge trucks are used for the transportation of overburden and coal.
- Bucket wheel excavators are vital for this process.
Firstly, the load of soil and rock is shattered up by explosives and then removed by drag-lines. Then the exposed coal seam is drilled, fractured and systematically mined in strips. Lastly the coal is then placed onto large trucks or conveyors for the transportation for the coal groundwork.
The sad thing is that all fossil fuels will most certainly become exhausted therefore it is critical that we use them as professionally as possible. Coal deposits could be protracted further via the innovation of original and fresh deposits via continuous exploration actions as well as developments in mining techniques which will in turn permit formerly unreachable reserves
Additionally, significant improvements continue to be made in how efficiently coal is used so that more energy can be generated from each tonne of coal produced.