Mining in Daily Life - Coal


Coal, a simple black rock, is surprisingly important to the United States. The carbon is what makes coal such a valuable source of energy. When the carbon combines with oxygen, it gives off heat. That heat is used to produce electricity. In the U.S., we burn more than two trillion pounds of coal every year to keep the power grid humming. About half of the electricity in the United States currently comes from coal. Where does all the coal come from? (Read More)


See a video of underground coal mining.



Want to Understand How Coal Mines Work? Here is The Basic Kit. Abundant coal resources have been extracted, either from underground or from open pit mine throughout history and made the Industrial Revolution possible both in Western Europe and in the US. Coal has been the main source of energy in use from the 18th century to the 1950s. Coal is now bedrocking Chinese growth. Besides electricity generation, coal is also massively used in the metallurgical sector.


Coal, the Organic Rock - Coal differs from every other kind of rock in that it is made of organic carbon: the actual remains, not just mineralized fossils, of dead plants. Today the vast majority of dead plant matter is consumed by fire and decay, returning its carbon to the atmosphere as the gas carbon dioxide—it is oxidized. The carbon in coal, however, was preserved from oxidation and remains in a chemically reduced form, available for oxidation. (Read more)



Some coal seams are too deep underground for surface mining and require underground extraction. The two main types of underground mining include longwall, and room and pillar. In room-and-pillar mining, coal deposits are mined by cutting a network of 'rooms' into the coal seam and leaving behind 'pillars' of coal to support the roof of the mine. Longwall mining involves the full extraction of coal from a section of the seam, or 'face' using mechanical shearers. Read more


Annual Energy Outlook 2014 The projections in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) focus on the factors that shape the U.S. energy system over the long term. Under the assumption that current laws and regulations remain unchanged throughout the projections, the AEO2014 Reference case provides the basis for examination and discussion of energy production, consumption, technology, and market trends and the direction they may take in the future. It also serves as a starting point for analysis of potential changes in energy policies. Read More