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coal mining business plan [sample template for 2021]

coal mining business plan [sample template for 2021]

Are you about starting a coal mining business? If YES, here is a complete sample coal mining business plan template & feasibility report you can use for FREE. Okay, so we have considered all the requirements for starting a coal mining business. We also took it further byanalyzing and drafting a sample coal mining business marketing plan template backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for coal mining businesses. So lets proceed to the business planning section.

The rule of thumb in choosing a business to launch is to look out for a business whose products or services are needed in our everyday life; a business whose products can be purchased by the rich as well as the poor and a business that is less competitive in your location. Starting a coal mining company can come in handy if you have the business exposure and financial requirements.

If you are sure that this type of business is what you truly want to do after you must have conducted your market research and feasibility studies, then the next step to follow is to write a good business plan. The truth is that it is one thing to have a fantastic idea cum business plan, but another thing for the business plan to translate to money (profits), that is why it is important to assemble a team of experts to work with if you want to be successful with your coal mining company as you can hardly run this type of business alone.

Players in the coal mining industry are basically involved in mining various types of coal. This often occurs either underground or in surface pits. Most coal mines consist of bituminous coal or anthracite, but companies might also excavate lignite (brown coal). Players in this industry also develop coal mine sites and prepare the coal for sale by washing, screening and sizing the material.

The coal industry has been volatile in recent years, and revenue has declined over the five years to 2017 as a result. IBISWorld indicated that the prices of thermal and metallurgical coal surged just prior to the five-year period, and have continually dropped since, inhibiting industry growth.

Furthermore, the emergence of natural gas as a substitute for coal in electricity generation, a slowing Chinese economy and relatively mild winters in the united states have reduced demand for coal and contributed to price volatility over the past five years.

IBISWorld also shows that over the next five years, however, the industry is expected to return to slow growth, as slowing economic growth in major global markets (e.g. China) places downward pressure on product prices.

The Coal Mining industry is a thriving sector of the economy of loads of countries all across the globe and in the United States, and the industry generates over $28 billion annually from more than 1,538 coal mining companies scattered all around the United States of America.

The industry is responsible for the employment of over 60,877 people. Experts project the industry to grow at a -7.8 percent annual rate. Alpha, Arch Coal, CONSOL Energy and Peabody Energy are the market leaders in this industry.

A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that Coal Mining industry is highly capital intensive, with most of its assets held in the form of land holdings, stocks and equipment. Establishing a new mine or expanding an existing one requires a large amount of capital.

For example, capital is required for mine site development and specialized equipment, including items such as draglines (used to remove overburden at open-cut operations), longwalls (shearers and accompanying hydraulic supports and coal extraction conveyors) and coal washing plants.

Ongoing investment requirements largely depend on coal prices. If coal prices are too low, then an operator might reduce production; it might not be economical to extract coal from the mine at a cost that might surpass the expected market price.

Any aspiring entrepreneur that is considering starting a coal mining business whether on a small scale or in a large scale should ensure that he or she obtains all the necessary permits from both the local government, state government and federal government. He or she should conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies so as to get it right. The truth is that this type of business does pretty well when it is strategically positioned.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is a licensed coal mining company that will be based in Juneau Alaska. Although we intend starting out on a small scale as a cottage company, but that will not in any way stop us from maximizing our potential in the coal mining industry.

Our business goal as a coal mining company is to become the number one choice of road construction companies cum construction sites in Alaska and other cities in the United States where we intend supplying bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, lignite and anthracite et al.

As a business, we are willing to go the extra mile to invest in owning our own world class and environmental friendly coal mines and also to hire efficient and dedicated employees. We have been able to secure permits and licenses from all relevant departments both at local government and state level in Juneau Alaska.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is set to redefine how coal mining business should be run, not just in Juneau Alaska, but also in the whole of the United States of America. This is why we have put plans in place for continuous training of all our staff at regular intervals.

No doubt the demand for bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, lignite and anthracite et al is not going to plummet any time soon which is why we have put plans in place to continue to explore all available market around construction sites where we intend supplying our products. In the nearest future, we will ensure that we create a wide range of distribution channels all across the United States of America. With that, we know we will be able to maximize profits in our business.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company will at all-time demonstrate her commitment to sustainability, both individually and as a firm, by actively participating in our communities and integrating sustainable business practices wherever possible. We will ensure that we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards by meeting our customers needs precisely and completely.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is a partnership business that will be jointly owned by Gabby Jose and Pascal Bob. Gabby Jose who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Company has a Degree in Mining Technology and over 10 years of experience working in related industry as a senior manage cum mining engineer prior to starting Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company. He will be working with a team of professionals to build the business and grow it to enviable height.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is established with the aim of maximizing profits in the coal mining industry. We want to compete favorably with the leaders in the industry which is why we have but in place a competent team that will ensure that our products are of high standard.

We will work hard to ensure that Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is not just accepted in Juneau Alaska, but also in other states all across the United States of America where we intend supplying our products. Our products are listed below;

As part of our plans to build a top flight coal mining company in Juneau Alaska that will favorably compete with leaders in the industry, we have perfected plans to get it right from the onset which is why we are going the extra mile to ensure that we have competent employees to occupy all the available positions in our company.

The picture of the kind of coal mining company we intend building and the business goals we want to achieve is what informed the amount we are ready to spend to ensure that we build a business with dedicated workforce and robust distribution network.

Because of our drive for excellence, we were able to engage some of the finest business consultants in Juneau Alaska to look through our business concept and together we were able to critically examine the business and ourselves to be sure that we have what it takes to run a standard coal mining business.

In view of that, we were able to take stock of our strengths, our weakness, our opportunities and also the threats that we are likely going to be exposed to in the United States of America. Here is a of what we got from the critically conducted SWOT Analysis Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company;

Our strength lies in the fact that we have state of the art coal mining equipment and trucks that will position us to meet the demand of our clients even if the demand tripled over night or if we have a massive order to meet and emergency need.

Another factor that counts to our advantage is the background of our Chief Executive Officers; they have robust experience in the industry and also pretty good academic qualifications to match the experience acquired. We are not ignoring the fact that our team of highly qualified and dedicated workers will also serve as strength for our organization.

We do not take for granted the facts that we have weaknesses. In fact, the reality that we are setting up a coal mining company in a town with other coal mining businesses might likely pose a challenge for us in breaking into the already saturated market in Juneau Alaska. In essence our chosen location might be our weakness. But never the less, we have plans to launch out with a big bang.

The opportunities available to us are unlimited. There are loads of road construction sites and road repair projects in and around Juneau Alaska and all what we are going to do to push our products to them is already perfected.

The threat that is likely going to confront us is the fact that we are competing with already established coal mining companies in Juneau Alaska and also there are other entrepreneurs who are likely going to launch similar business within the location of our business. Of course, they will compete with us in winning over the available market. Another threat that we are likely going to face is unfavorable government policies and economic downturn.

A slowing Chinese economy and relatively mild winters in the United States have reduced demand for coal, so also natural gas is increasingly challenging coals role in power generation and the Coal Mining industry is anticipated to bounce back slightly in the next five years

It is common trend in the coal mining line of business to find coal companies positioning their business in locations and communities where they can easily have access to coal mines and of course cheap labor. If you make the mistake of positioning this type of business in a location where you would have to travel a distance before you can access coal mines in commercial quantities, then you would have to struggle to make profits and maintain your overhead and logistics.

Another trend in this line of business is that most registered and well organized coal mining companies look beyond the market within their locations or state; they ensure that they strike business deals with leading road construction companies in the United States of America.

When it comes to supplying product from a coal mines, there is indeed a wide range of available customers. This goes to show that the target market for products from a coal mining companies are far reaching, you can create your own make niche yourself to serve a specific purpose.

So also, as a standard coal mining company, we know that gaining a competitive edge requires a detailed analysis of the demographics of the surrounding area and the nature of existing competitors. And even if you are successful at first, new competitors could enter your market at any time to steal your regular customers. Hence we will not hesitate to adopt successful and workable strategies from our competitors.

Another competitive advantage that we have is the vast experience of our management team, we have people on board who are highly experienced and understand how to grow business from the scratch to becoming a national phenomenon. Our large and robust distribution network and of course our excellent customer service culture will definitely count as a strong strength for the business.

Lastly, our employees will be well taken care of, and their welfare package will be among the best within our category in the industry, meaning that they will be more than willing to build the business with us and help deliver our set goals and achieve all our aims and objectives. We will also give good working conditions and commissions to freelance sales agents that we will recruit from time to time.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is established with the aim of maximizing profits in the road construction cum building industry both in Juneau Alaska and throughout key cities in the United States of America. We are going to go all the way to ensure that we do all it takes to sell our products to a wide range of customers.

One thing is certain when it comes to coal mining business, if your business is strategically positioned and you have good relationship with players in the road construction industry, you will always attract customers.

We are well positioned to take on the available market in and around Juneau Alaska and we are quite optimistic that we will meet our set target of generating enough profits from our first six months of operation and grow the business and our clientele base.

We have been able to critically examine the coal mining line of business, we have analyzed our chances in the industry and we have been able to come up with the following sales forecast. The sales projections are based on information gathered on the field and some assumptions that are peculiar to startups in Juneau Alaska.

N.B: This projection was done based on what is obtainable in the industry and with the assumption that there wont be any major economic meltdown and there wont be any major competitor offering same product and customer care services as we do within same location. Please note that the above projection might be lower and at the same time it might be higher.

Before choosing a location to start Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company, we conducted a thorough market survey and feasibility studies in order for us to penetrate the available market in Juneau -Alaska. We have detailed information and data that we were able to utilize to structure our business to attract the number of customers we want to attract per time and also to compete with other coal mining companies.

We hired experts who have good understanding of the coal mining line of business to help us develop marketing strategies that will help us achieve our business goal of winning a larger percentage of the available market for our products.

In other to continue to be in business and grow, we must continue to sell our products to the available market which is why we will go all out to empower our sales and marketing team to deliver our corporate sales goals. In summary, Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company will adopt the following sales and marketing approach to sell our coals;

Regardless of the fact that our coal mining company is a standard one that can favorably compete with other leading coal mining companies in Juneau Alaska and in any part of the world, we will still go ahead to intensify publicity for all our products and brand. We are going to explore all available means to promote Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company has a long term plan of exporting our product all across the United States of America. This is why we will deliberately build our brand to be well accepted in Juneau Alaska before venturing out to other cities all across the United States of America.

As a matter of fact, our publicity and advertising strategy is not solely for selling our products but to also effectively communicate our brand. Here are the platforms we intend leveraging on to promote and advertise Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company;

At Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company, we will keep the prices of our products below the average market rate by keeping our overhead low and by collecting payment in advance from well established road construction companies that would require constant supply of our products. In addition, we will also offer special discounted rates to all our customers at regular intervals.

The payment policy adopted by Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is all inclusive because we are quite aware that different customers prefer different payment options as it suits them but at the same time, we will ensure that we abide by the financial rules and regulation of the United States of America.

In view of the above, we have chosen banking platforms that will enable our client make payment for our coals without any stress on their part. Our bank account numbers will be made available on our website and promotional materials to clients who may want to deposit cash or make online transfer for the purchase of our products.

From our market survey and feasibility studies, we have been able to come up with a detailed budget on how to achieve our aim of establishing a standard and highly competitive coal mining company in Juneau Alaska and here are the key areas where we will spend our startup capital;

No matter how fantastic your business idea might be, if you dont have the required money to finance the business, the business might not become a reality. Finance is a very important factor when it comes to starting a business.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is a partnership business that is owned and financed by Mr. Gabby Jose and Pascal Bob. They do not intend to welcome any external business partner which is why they have decided to restrict the sourcing of startup capital to 3 major sources.

N.B: We have been able to generate about $150, 000 (Personal savings $100, 000 and soft loan from family members $50, 000) and we are at the final stages of obtaining a loan facility of $300,000 from our bank. All the papers and documents have been signed and submitted, the loan has been approved and any moment from now our account will be credited with the amount.

One of our major goals of starting Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company is to build a business that will survive off its own cash flow without needing to inject finance from external sources once the business is officially running. We know that one of the ways of gaining approval and winning customers over is to supply our coals a little bit cheaper than what is obtainable in the market and we are well prepared to survive on lower profit margin for a while.

Gabby Pascal Coal Mining Company will make sure that the right foundation, structures and processes are put in place to ensure that our staff welfare are well taken of. Our companys corporate culture is designed to drive our business to greater heights and training and retraining of our workforce is at the top burner.

As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of three years or more. We know that if that is put in place, we will be able to successfully hire and retain the best hands we can get in the industry; they will be more committed to help us build the business of our dreams.

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coal mining | definition, history, types, & facts | britannica

coal mining | definition, history, types, & facts | britannica

Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel on Earth. Its predominant use has always been for producing heat energy. It was the basic energy source that fueled the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the industrial growth of that era in turn supported the large-scale exploitation of coal deposits. Since the mid-20th century, coal has yielded its place to petroleum and natural gas as the principal energy supplier of the world. The mining of coal from surface and underground deposits today is a highly productive, mechanized operation.

There is archaeological evidence that coal was burned in funeral pyres during the Bronze Age, 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, in Wales. Aristotle mentions coal (combustible bodies) in his Meteorologica, and his pupil Theophrastus also records its use. The Romans in Britain burned coal before 400ce; cinders have been found among the ruins of Roman villas and towns and along the Roman wall, especially in Northumberland, near the outcrop of coal seams. The Hopi Indians of what is now the southwestern United States mined coal by picking and scraping and used it for heating, cooking, and in ceremonial chambers as early as the 12th century ce; in the 14th century they used it industrially in pottery making. Marco Polo reports its use as widespread in 13th-century China. The Domesday Book (1086), which recorded everything of economic value in England, does not mention coal. Londons first coal arrived by sea in 1228, from the areas of Fife and Northumberland, where lumps broken from submarine outcroppings and washed ashore by wave action were gathered by women and children. Thereafter, the name sea coal was applied to all bituminous coal in England. Later in the century, monks began to mine outcroppings in the north of England.

Except for the Chinese, who may have mined coal underground, all the early coal seams were worked from the surface, in fully exposed outcroppings. In the later Middle Ages, however, exhaustion of outcrop coal in many places forced a change from surface to underground, or shaft, mining. Early shaft mines were little more than wells widened as much as miners dared in the face of danger of collapse. Shafts were sunk on high ground, with aditsnear-horizontal tunnelsfor drainage driven into the side of the hill. In England some shallow mine shafts were exhausted as early as the 14th century, making it necessary to go deeper and expand mining at the shaft bottoms. These remained small operations; a record of 1684 shows 70 mines near Bristol, employing 123 workers. Greater depth created many problems. First, water could no longer simply be drained away. Crude methods were devised to lift it to the surface. A bucket-and-chain device was first powered by men and later by horses; a continuous belt of circular plates was drawn up through a pipe. Windmills were used for pumps. But shafts had to be restricted to depths of 90 to 105 metres (300 to 350 feet) and a mining radius of 180 metres. It was not until 1710 that the water problem was eased by Thomas Newcomens steam atmospheric engine, which supplied a cheap and reliable power source for a vertical reciprocating lift pump.

Raising the coal itself was another problem. Manpower, operating a windlass, was replaced by horsepower; and, as the shafts went deeper, more horses were added. At Whitehaven in 1801, coal was hoisted 180 metres by four horses at the rate of 4244 metric tons (4648 tons) in nine hours. The introduction of the steam engine to hoist coal was a major turning point for the industry. Small steam-powered windlasses were successfully tried out about 1770. About 1840 the first cage was used to hoist the loaded car; and from 1840 onward advances in coal-mining techniques were rapid.

The presence of noxious and flammable gases caused miners to recognize the critical importance of ventilation in coal mines from the earliest days. Natural ventilation was afforded by level drainage tunnels driven from the sloping surface to connect with the shaft. Surface stacks above the shaft increased the efficiency of ventilation; their use continued in small mines until the early 20th century. The most reliable method, before the introduction of fans, was the use of a furnace at the shaft bottom or on the surface. Despite the hazard of fire and explosion, there were still a large number of furnaces operating, at least in nongassy mines, in the early 20th century.

Open-flame illumination, however, was a much more common cause of explosions until the introduction of the Davy safety lamp (about 1815), in which the flame is enclosed in a double layer of wire gauze that prevents ignition of flammable gases in the air of the mine. Presence of strong air currents, however, made even the Davy lamp unsafe.

Rotary ventilating fans were introduced in mines in the 18th century. Originally of wood and powered by steam, they were improved throughout the 19th and 20th centuries by the introduction of steel blades, electric power, and aerodynamically efficient shapes for the blades.

Early European miners wedged coal out of the seam or broke it loose with a pick. After explosives were introduced, it was still necessary to undercut the coal seam with hand tools. The advent of steam, compressed air, and electricity brought relief from this hard, dangerous work. In 1868, after almost 100 years of trial and error, a commercially successful revolving-wheel cutter for undercutting the coal seam was introduced in England. This first powered cutting tool was soon improved by introduction of compressed air as a power source in place of steam. Later, electricity was used. The longwall cutter was introduced in 1891. Originally driven by compressed air and later electrified, it could begin at one end of a long face (the vertical, exposed cross section of a seam of coal) and cut continuously to the other.

The conventional mining techniques described above, made up of the cyclic operations of cutting, drilling, blasting, and loading, developed in association with room-and-pillar mining. The oldest of the basic underground methods, room-and-pillar mining grew naturally out of the need to recover more coal as mining operations became deeper and more expensive. During the late 1940s, conventional techniques began to be replaced by single machines, known as continuous miners, that broke off the coal from the seam and transferred it back to the haulage system. The Joy Ripper (1948) was the first continuous miner applicable to the room-and-pillar method.

The other principal method of modern mining, longwall mining, had been introduced as early as the 17th century and had found general use by the 19th century, but it had long been less productive than room-and-pillar mining. This began to change in the 1940s, when a continuous system involving the plow was developed by Wilhelm Loebbe of Germany. Pulled across the face of the coal and guided by a pipe on the face side of a segmented conveyor, the plow carved a gash off the bottom of the seam. The conveyor snaked against the face behind the advancing plow to catch the coal that chipped off from above the gash. Substantially reducing the labour required at the coal face (except that needed to install roof support), the Loebbe system quickly became popular in Germany, France, and the Low Countries.

The plow itself had limited application in British mines, but the power-advanced segmented conveyor became a fundamental part of equipment there, and in 1952 a simple continuous machine called the shearer was introduced. Pulled along the face astride the conveyor, the shearer bore a series of disks fitted with picks on their perimeters and mounted on a shaft perpendicular to the face. The revolving disks cut a slice from the coal face as the machine was pulled along, and a plow behind the machine cleaned up any coal that dropped between the face and the conveyor.

The technique of supporting the roof by rock bolting became common in the late 1940s and did much to provide an unobstructed working area for room-and-pillar mining, but it was a laborious and slow operation that prevented longwall mining from realizing its potential. In the late 1950s, however, powered, self-advancing roof supports were introduced by the British. Individually or in groups, these supports, attached to the conveyor, could be hydraulically lowered, advanced, and reset against the roof, thus providing a prop-free area for equipment (between the coal face and the first row of jacks) and a canopied pathway for miners (between the first and second rows of jacks).

In the first shaft mines, coal was loaded into baskets that were carried on the backs of men or women or loaded on wooden sledges or trams that were then pushed or hauled through the main haulage roadway to the shaft bottom to be hung on hoisting ropes or chains. In drift and slope mines, the coal was brought directly to the surface by these and similar methods. Sledges were pulled first by men and later by animals, including mules, horses, oxen, and even dogs and goats.

Steam locomotives designed by Richard Trevithick were used in the fields of South Wales and Tyne and later in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but they created too much smoke. Compressed-air locomotives, which appeared in the 1880s, proved expensive to operate. Electric locomotives, introduced in 1887, rapidly became popular, but mules and horses were still working in some mines as late as the 1940s.

The loading by hand of broken coal into railcars was made obsolete early in the 20th century by mobile loaders. The Stanley Header, the first coal-loading machine used in the United States, was developed in England and tested in Colorado in 1888. Others were developed, but few progressed beyond the prototype stage until the Joy machine was introduced in 1914. Employing the gathering-arm principle, the Joy machine provided the pattern for future successful mobile loaders. After the introduction in 1938 of electric-powered, rubber-tired shuttle cars designed to carry coal from the loading machine to the elevator, mobile loading and haulage rapidly supplanted track haulage at the face of room-and-pillar mines.

In 1924 a conveyor belt was successfully used in an anthracite mine in central Pennsylvania to carry coal from a group of room conveyors to a string of cars at the mine entry. By the 1960s belts had almost completely replaced railcars for intermediate haulage.

The history of coal preparation begins in the 19th century, with the adaptation of mineral-processing methods used for enriching metallic ores from their associated impurities. In the early years, larger pieces of coal were simply handpicked from pieces composed predominantly of mineral matter. Washing with mechanical devices to separate the coal from associated rocks on the basis of their density differences began during the 1840s.

At first, coal preparation was necessitated by the demand for higher heating values; another demand was for such special purposes as metallurgical coke for steelmaking. In recent years, as concern has grown over the emission of sulfur dioxide in the flue gases of power plants, coal preparation has taken on greater importance as a measure to remove atmospheric pollutants.

5 ways to make mining more sustainable - empowering pumps and equipment

5 ways to make mining more sustainable - empowering pumps and equipment

Despite technological advancements that have made the industry more green, mining still uses significant amounts of resources water, land, carbon and energy and often causes severe harm to the environment. This damage, if not correctly handled, can last for decades after mining operations have shut down, make the land more vulnerable to natural processes like soil erosion and can worsenafter the equipment is out.

Now, as industries and governments around the world look for ways to reduce carbon output and environmental impact, experts and individuals from in and out of mining are pushing the industry to take a serious look at how it can reduce its footprint.

With many of these techniques, companies can significantly reduce surface disturbance at mining sites, lower soil erosion and move less material that would need backfilled. Lowering interference in this way can both reduce environmental impact and result in less work when preparinga site for quicker revegetation or rehabilitation.

Mining naturally produces significant amounts of waste such as tailings, rocks and wastewater.In many cases, businesses leave waste behind when mining operations cease or, in the case of tailings, stored in large structures like tailings dams, which are prone to failure and, as a result, cause severe environmental damage.

Even tailings, often toxic and left behind in mine sites or stored in large-scale tailings dams, can find eco-friendly use. Depending on the mineral and chemical composition of the tailings, businesses can use them in the production of bricks, as paint extenders or in agroforestry.

Some new technologies even make it possible to further mine from these tailings, reducing the overall amount of minerals that get left behind in mining sites while also reducing the volume of waste stored in tailings dams.

However, not all of the applications are economic right now. The mining industry will likely need to invest in further research and development in the areas of mine waste reuse to makesome of the methods workable at scale.

Battery-driven mining equipment is often powerful enough to replace diesel-driven options. Replacing diesel engines with electric engines where possible can significantly reduce the amount of CO2 produced by mining operations.

In general, the mining industry is already moving in the direction of electric equipment, with more and more mining manufacturers offering eco-friendly alternatives. Some are making more significant commitments like Swedish mining equipment manufacturer Epiroc, which plans to be 100 percent electric within the next few years.

Businesses wanting to become more sustainable could also upgrade to more advanced, durable equipment that lasts longer, reducing the turnover of machinery and decreasing the resources needed. Improved durability can also reduce the environmental costs of damaged equipment like rubber or plastic shed as a piece of equipment breaks down.

Simple switches, for example like adopting tires that provide better longevity and higher ROI in rock-strewn environmentscan cut down on equipment costs over time while also reducing how much rubber and plastic a mining operation outputs.

Many modern mining techniques cause significant disruption to the environment likestripping the topsoil layer necessary for plant growth and raising soil and water acidity, making the area inhospitable to new vegetation and leaving it prone to soil erosion.

As a result, many former mine sites are left unproductive, unusable by landowners and, in some cases, almost entirely inhospitable to plant and animal life.However, this damage isnt guaranteed to be permanent. Companies can use many land rehabilitation techniques to make mined land productive again or speed up the lands natural recovery process.

For example, its possible to usebiosolids to replenish depleted topsoil. Soil with biosolids, if seeded and watered, can produce vegetation capable of preventing further soil erosion within as few as 12 weeks. Combined with other rehabilitative techniques like the use of waste rocks to fill in excavated areas its possible to significantly reduce the disruption caused by mining.

Some mining companies like Alcoa in Australia have gone further and implemented large-scale reforestation schemes that look to restore every local species present at a mine site before operations began.

Illegal mining remains a significant issue for the industry for example, experts estimate that around 14,000 people are currently involved in illegal mining in South Africa. There, illegal mining often takes place on properties not suited for large-scale mining and without regard to regulations that reduce the environmental impact.

Despite recent strides and new technology, the mining industry remains unsustainable in many areas. Fortunately, there are a variety of technologies and techniques both in-use and in development that the sector can use to reduce its environmental impact.

Advanced land rehabilitation techniques, coupled with low-impact mining methods and reuse of mine waste, can cut back on the impact that mining operations have on their immediate environment. companies can also use new equipment powered by electric engines to reduce their carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly.

Not all of these technologies are economical yet. However, the mining industry as a whole does seem to be moving in the direction of sustainability. Over the next few years, these technologies should become more practical. As a result, it may be easier for companies to make themselves more eco-friendly.

Megan Ray Nichols is a STEM writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She regularly writes for IMPO Magazine and American Machinist. For more from Megan, follow her on Twitter, @nicholsrmegan, or subscribe to herblog.

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coal mining: environmental impacts and technologies used to make cleaner coal - video & lesson transcript

coal mining: environmental impacts and technologies used to make cleaner coal - video & lesson transcript

In the year 2007, the U.S. coal resources totaled approximately 486 billion short tons, which is enough to provide hundreds of years of energy. While some of that coal is found in inaccessible locations (such as under towns) or otherwise too difficult to mine, there is still a lot of coal to be utilized for energy. However, coal is a problematic fuel when it comes to the environment. In this lesson, we will learn about some of the problems associated with burning coal, and discover technologies that are being used to make coal a cleaner source of energy.

Coal is comprised mostly of carbon and is found underground. When it's lying in the earth undisturbed, it does not impact the environment. However, when we pull coal out of the ground and burn it to generate electricity, the coal is converted to carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere along with other pollutants.

To recall the term 'greenhouse effect,' it may help you to note that the glass of a greenhouse acts similarly to the gases in the atmosphere, keeping some of the heat inside the greenhouse; kind of like the way car windows absorb heat and help to keep it inside the car on a summer day.

Coal is an abundant fuel source and could be a source of electricity for many years to come, if we could just find a way to make coal cleaner. Fortunately, there are many teams of scientists hard at work to solve this problem; and thanks to the clean coal technologies that they have developed, we may see a reduction in the environmental effects of coal burning in the future.

Now, if you have ever seen a coal burning plant, one of the things that likely caught your attention was the billowing smoke and gases that pour out of the smokestacks. This is called 'flue gas.' This flue gas can contain many impurities, such as sulfur and nitrogen, and these impurities combine with water vapor and fall to the earth as acid rain.

Coal washing is a type of coal preparation that removes impurities. The process involves crushing the coal into small chunks and washing it. During the washing process, the coal floats to the surface while the sulfur and other impurities sink.

Another way to make coal burning cleaner is to use flue gas desulfurization systems, which are also known as 'scrubbers.' These systems remove sulfur dioxide from the flue gas. This is an easy term to recall if you remember that the prefix 'de' means to remove, and the term 'sulfur' is found in the word. Therefore, flue gas desulfurization systems literally remove sulfur dioxide from the flue gas. During this process, the flue gas is sprayed with limestone and water. The limestone and sulfur combine with each other to form a wet paste that looks somewhat like the toothpaste you use to scrub your teeth clean in the morning. Although, I wouldn't recommend using this type of paste to freshen your breath.

Nitrogen is a normal part of the air we breathe, and we tolerate nitrogen just fine. However, when air is heated, as it is when coal is burned, the nitrogen atoms break apart and join with oxygen to form 'nitrogen oxide,' or 'NOx,' which is the abbreviation and rhymes with socks. Nitrogen oxide is a pollutant that causes smog and acid rain. Low-NOx burners reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by restricting oxygen and manipulating the combustion process when coal is burned.

Gasification is another method that scientists have found to make coal cleaner, and as its name suggests, it involves the conversion of coal into gas. With gasification, coal is subjected to steam and hot pressured air to break the carbon molecules apart. This results in a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which can be used to spin a gas turbine to generate electricity. Gasification can remove impurities from coal and is a great way to clean pollution out of coal.

We have looked at a number of ways to clean coal and remove impurities so they are not released into the atmosphere. But scientists have also discovered that they can catch carbon dioxide after coal is burned, and prevent it from harming the atmosphere.

This process is called carbon capture and storage, or CCS. CCS is defined as the process of capturing carbon dioxide and transporting it to permanent underground storage. When carbon capture and storage is utilized at a coal burning plant, much of the carbon dioxide generated during the burning of coal is transported by pipeline or other mode to sites where it can be stored deep underground in areas, such as depleted oil or gas fields, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere.

Let's review. Coal is a relatively cheap fossil fuel and will remain abundant long after oil and natural gas reserves are used up. However, burning coal creates problems for the environment. When coal is burned, it releases carbon dioxide and other impurities into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a 'greenhouse gas,' which is a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs infrared radiation and traps heat. Greenhouse gases contribute to the warming of the surface of the earth and the lower atmosphere, which is known as the 'greenhouse effect.'

Even though there is no such thing as 'clean coal,' there are new technologies that are helping to make coal burning less harmful for the environment. One of these technologies is called coal washing, which is a type of coal preparation that removes impurities by allowing the coal and impurities to separate.

Flue gas desulfurization systems remove sulfur dioxide from the flue gas by spraying the flue gas with limestone and water to create a less harmful paste. Low-NOx burners reduce nitrogen oxide emissions when coal is burned, which prevents nitrogen oxide from turning into smog and acid rain.

Gasification is the conversion of coal into gas, which removes impurities from the coal. This gas is then used to spin a gas turbine to generate electricity. Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, does not prevent carbon dioxide emissions; instead, it captures carbon dioxide and transports it to permanent underground storage, keeping it from being released into the atmosphere.

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