Tons of coal mined
Globally, this year
We mine enough coal to give 1 ton to every person on the planet. To date, we have mined an estimated 2.7 billion tons of coal globally and it’s not even half of the year yet.
We were so happy with this cheap fuel source that we didn’t foresee or refused to see the coal mining effects on the environment – and they are many – most of them negative.
Here are some of the negative effects of coal mining and the burning of coal:
Coal is the most abundant fuel in the fossil family. It has been used for heating since the age of the cave men. It has a long and varied history.
In the 1700s, the British discovered that it produced cleaner fuel than wood. However, it was during the Industrial Revolution that it became the dominant global supplier of energy. Steamships and railroads became the primary source of transportation and its boilers burned coal as fuel. Eventually, factories started using coal too and in the 1880s, it started being used to generate Electricity.
To date, coal remains as an important energy source because of its low cost and abundance as compared to other fuel sources.
Since the mid-1980s the US, Canada and private companies have been investing billions to develop and improve the processing of coal. The effort began to stop the Acid Rain which was damaging rivers, forests and buildings in these countries. Since the US has the most coal burning power plants, they took the lead to find a solution.
Carbon sequestration is one of the processes developed to reduce the CO2 it releases into the atmosphere. It involves capturing and storing the carbon underground or beneath the ocean floor where it cannot escape into the air.
Rehabilitation of lands used for mining operations is also being closely monitored, especially for surface mining. A detailed plan of rehabilitation is required from the start of the mining operations, up to the finish. This includes the shaping and contouring of spoil piles, seeding with grasses and planting of trees and replacement of the topsoil. This solves the problem of dead craters that used to result from surface mining.
Read more stories on our Environment at The World Counts: Stories
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