When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Strip Mining
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Coal Mine at Wabamun LakeStrip mining is most often used on the plains. Large equipment, such as draglines, removes the overlying soil and rock (overburden) to expose a relatively horizontal coal seam. Overburden is placed in piles behind the area being mined. When extraction is complete, the overburden is replaced and the land is returned as much as possible to its former state.

Strip mining is used on the prairies where coal seams are fairly horizontal and close to the surface. Large machinery exposes and extracts the coal in a series of rows called strips.

Luscar Open Pit Coal MineIn the early days of strip mining there arose a prejudice in some circles over the use of strip-produced coal. It was felt that strip-mined coal was not as good as underground coal. There was no basis to this, however, as the only difference between these coals is the method of getting at it. Stripping techniques are actually less costly, and may produce a lower-cost fuel to homes and industries throughout Alberta and Canada.
 

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