The Story of Coal: How is coal mined today?
Mining has been a prolifically hazardous profession for hundreds of years, yet it has also seen the development of entire cultures and communities around it.
Many dangers including roof collapses, explosions, poisoning, and chronic lung diseases were faced by miners of the past.
Fortunately, modern mining has seen improvements which significantly increase the safety of mines. This includes things like better ventilation, gas monitors, and improved electrical equipment.
Individual mining organisations also work towards safety plans, such as UK Coal’s ‘The Safety Way’, which has the aim of having zero accidents and zero incidents throughout the company.
Currently, most coal is either deep mined or surface mined:
Of all mined coal, the majority comes from deep mines. In an underground mine, shafts and tunnels are dug alongside the coal seams. The coal is then removed by miners or machinery, and transported to the surface, usually via conveyor belt. The coal is usually mined in pillars, so that some remains to support the roof of the mine, aided by a hydraulic roof support.
In surface mining, coal is extracted from seams which lie just below the ground. Large holes are dug to reach the coal (usually up to hundreds of feet deep), the dirt covering it is then removed by a machine before the coal is mined.
There are still a number of working mines within the UK, though the amount is steadily dwindling. A lot of the UK’s coal is imported from high producing countries like Russia, Poland, China, and more recently, Colombia.