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.

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By 1912, surface mining was conducted with steam shovels designed for coal mining.

The most economical method of coal extraction from coal seams depends on the depth and quality of the seams, and the geology and environmental factors.

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.

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.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 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.Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production.