Environmental Science 1021F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Iron Mountain Mine, Anthracite, Sub-Bituminous Coal

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Fossil Fuels
The Benefits of Fossil Fuels
There is no doubt there are massive benefits to the use of fossil fuels
The abundance of energy and economic activity in Canada and other countries is in
many ways linked directly to access to and use of fossil fuels
The benefits of fossil fuels are all around us:
o Abundant energy
o Affordable products from rubber, plastic and other fossil fuel based products
o Economic activity and production
o Many of the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction and processes can be
aoided, ut, soeties, sipl aet. hile the ipats of eissio ae a
different issue
All energy sources have negative environmental and social impacts, as well as social and
economic benefits (but try to avoid simplistic economy vs. environment, there is no
sense separating the two)
The question as someone studying fossil fuels and environmental issues is: ho is the
atual eioet affeted  fossil fuel podutio ad use
3 Types of Fossil Fuels
Coal a black comustile solid composted maily of carbon, water, and trace elemnts
foud i Eaths ust
o Formed from ancient plnats that lived millions of years ago
Oil a thik, ello to lak flaale liuie hdoao itue foud i Eaths
crust
o Formed from the remains of ancient microscopic aquatic organisms
Natural Gases a mixture of energy-rich gaseous hydrocraobs that occurs, often with
oil deposits, i Eaths ust
Coal
 illio eas ago the Eaths atosphee
contained extremely high levels of carbon dioxide
allowing plant species to thrive
as these plants died they were sometimes covered
 ate ia hages to the Eaths sufae
eventually this mass of dead plants was covered by
massive layers of rock, causing intense heat and
pressure that altered the plant material and turned into a rocky substance
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How Coal Was Formed
Coal Use & Demand
in the 18th century coal began to replace wood as the dominant fuel source in
industrializing economies
coal use increased globally (despite decreasing
in North America) as countries like China and
India begin accessing their coal reserves
(however this is leveling out)
coal is found primarily in the northern
hemisphere
at current rates of use, it is estimated that we
hae etee  ad  eas oth of
coal resources remaining
coal in Canada is undergoing a shift in supply
and demand
globally coal demand is stagnant
The 4 Types of Coal
Lignite the lagest potio of the olds oal esees is ade up of ligite, a soft,
brownish-black coal that forms the lowest level of the coal family
o You can even see the texture of the original wood in some pieces of lignite that is
found primarily west of the Mississippi River in the United States
o Least clean type of coal gives off the most residue
world coal consumption
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Subbituminous next up the scale is subbituminous coal, a dull black coal
o It gives off a little more energy (heat) than lignite when it burns
o It is mined mostly in Montana, Wyoming and a few other western states
Bituminous still oe eeg is paked ito ituious oal, soeties alled soft
oal
o In the US it is found primarily east of the Mississippi River in Midwestern states
like Ohio and Illinois and in the Appalachian mountain range from Kentucky to
Pennsylvania
Anthracite the hardest coal and gives off a great amount of heat when it burns
o Unfortunately, in the US, as elsewhere in the world, there is little anthracite coal
to be mined
o The US reserves of anthracite are located primarily in Pennsylvania
*the amount that they effect and give off the residue around the towns that are surrounding
the areas is a large thing to look at
Coal Mining
Surface mining
the extraction of mineral and energy resources
ea Eaths sufae  fist eoig the soil,
subsoil and overlying rock strata
o Identify coal and through continuous
layers of explosions then you get to the
coal
o Geologial poesses push up Eaths ust
and allows us to access it without using a mine
Subsurface mining
the extraction of mineral and energy resources from deep underground
o Use of the coal mine
o Dig at it sideways
Coal and the Environment
Surface mines disrupt natural vegetation, animal
migration and local human populations
When surface mines are spent, top soil needs to be
returned, as well as natural topography to allow for
vegetation and wildlife to reclaim the land
o This has not always been the case, and only
in the past few decades have laws begun to
address this need
In both types of mining, precautions have to be
taken to avoid acid mine draining
a process in which the acids naturally held within
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