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What is Coal Mining? Full Information About Coal Mining

Coal mining, extraction of coal deposits from the surface of Earth and from underground.

Schematic diagram of an underground coal mine, showing surface facilities, access shaft, and the room-and-pillar and longwall mining methods.
Schematic diagram of an underground coal mine, showing surface facilities, access shaft, and the room-and-pillar and longwall mining methods.CONSOL Coal Group

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.

Tavantolgoi coal mine, southern Gobi, Mongolia.
Tavantolgoi coal mine, southern Gobi, Mongolia.Adrian Bradshaw—EPA/Landov

History

Ancient use of outcropping coal

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 AD 400; 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 AD; 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. London’s 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.00:57

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