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Lecture 19

ENVS 1000U Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Open-Pit Mining, Surface Mining, Gangue

Course Code
ENVS 1000U
Mary Olaveson

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Lecture 19
Fossil Fuels – Coal
What are Major Energy Sources?
include hydroelectricity, nuclear, renewables and fossils fuels
fossil fuels - highly substances formed from remains of dead organisms combustible
main source of energy are fossil fuels because of high-energy content which makes them
efficient to burn, ship, and store
fossil fuels have driven the Industrial Revolution
productivity of developed world based on accessible and cheap reserves of fossil fuels
increasing concerns with dependence on fossil fuels due to limited reserves,
environmental impacts (air, land, water)
What are Fossil Fuels?
fossil fuels used today were formed from tissues of organisms that lived 100-500 million
years ago
organic material is broken down in an anaerobic environment (in absence of oxygen)
obottoms of deep lakes, swamps, and shallow seas
organic matter is eventually converted into crude oil, natural gas, or coal (under
Major Types of Fossil Fuels
oeach type of fossil fuel has unique extraction processes and environmental
1. Coal
2. Oil
3. Natural gas
4. Others
How is Coal Formed?
Major Types of Fossil Fuels – Coal
oworld’s most abundant fossil fuel – long history of use
oorganic matter (woody plant material) compressed under very high pressure to
form dense, solid carbon structures
very little decomposition occurred prior to fossilization
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Lecture 19
How is Coal Mined?
coal mining is similar to most other mining activities (e.g. for metals and minerals
coal is found concentrated in coal “seams” found in an ore, the rock in which valuable
materials (metals, minerals) have been concentrated over time
mining (or extraction) activities involve several steps:
omining (extraction from rock)
opost-mining processing
1. Exploration
ogeologists and miners need to locate concentrated sources through exploration
2. Mining
osystemic removal of rock, soil, or other material to extract coal
omining focuses on highest concentrations of coal in surface or underground “coal
oMining: Types of Mining Methods for Coal
Subsurface Mining = underground deposits reached by digging networks
of tunnels deep underground
Strip Mining = heavy machinery removes huge amounts of earth to
expose and extract the coal resource
3. Post – Mining Processing
ocoal must be transported (often long distances) to sites of uses
What are the Impacts of Coal Mining?
Mining and Processing Minerals has Environmental Costs and Human Health Costs
ocoal mining methods are water- and energy-intensive
ocoal mining in particular have serious human health impacts
(e.g. mining accidents, black lung, lung cancer, etc.)
onumerous environmental impacts from coal mining:
1. strip mining / open-pit mining
2. subsurface mining
3. waste rock (gangue)
4. tailings
5. acid mine drainage (AMD)
6. mountaintop mining
7. air pollution
1. Strip Mining or Open Pit Mining
olayers of soil and rock are removed to expose the resource
ooverlying soil and rock is removed by heavy machinery
oused for coal, oil sands, sand, gravel
odestroys natural communities over large areas and triggers erosion
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