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Comparative Underground Coal Mining Methods

AUTHOR: Simon Walker
DATE: March 1996

Underground mining accounts for some 65% of the world hard coal production. Between 1995 and 2010 the total amount of hard coal mined will increase by about 50%, and because of local limits to availability not all of this will increase will come from surface mining operations. Reliance on underground coal mining will continue in many parts of the world, not only as a source of energy but also for long-standing social interests. In addition to new underground mine construction, there is a substantial scope for the rehabilitation of existing operations that for different reasons does not achieve optimised productivities.

The report addresses three main areas: the potential for underground coal mining within the framework of geographical and future markets; current and future trends in technology, and the topics requiring further research; and the potential for transferring appropriate technologies and management practices to countries where underground coal mining may require such assistance. Case studies of current underground coal mines in both industrialized and developing countries illustrate the broad range of labour and unit productivities that are being achieved, the levels of technology being employed, and the social impact of underground coal mining under different socio-economic conditions.