Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the earth. Coal is a mineral that is considered a valuable natural resource because of its high energy content. Traditionally, heavy industries like iron and steel or cement rely on coal energy for industrial activities like extraction of iron ore or production of cement. Coal is also used extensively in thermal power stations for generating electricity. Nowadays, coal mining has become highly mechanized and heavy-duty equipments and mining cables are regularly used for extracting this precious mineral from the earth’s core.
How is Coal Extracted?
The process of extracting coal from the earth has undergone massive changes from the time when men simply dug out coal that was just lying near the surface. In those days, men toiled hard to manually cut tunnels and extract the mineral and then carry it away on carts from long wall and open cut mines. These days, coal is mined either through opencast or surface mining or through deep or underground mining. The choice of the process depends on the geological conditions of the site and the position of the coal belt. In most nations, underground mining is the preferred mode whereas in nations like Australia, opencast mines are more commonly found. In fact, open cast mines account for approximately eighty percent of all coal produced in Australia.
In surface mining, the top surface of rocks and soil is first dislodged through explosives and then removed by draglines or mechanized shovels. The underlying coal shaft that is exposed is then drilled and broken up and extracted in strips. Conveyer belts then carry this coal to the trucks which transport them to their final destination.