What is coal? How is it produced? What are the types of this mineral? The answers to all these questions you will find in our article. In addition, the world's leading coal mining countries will be listed here.
What is coal, and how is it mined?
Coal is a mineral, one of the main fuel resources of the planet. It was formed in the thickness of the earth's crust due to the long accumulation of the remains of ancient plants in the absence of access to oxygen.
The first link in the long chain of the genesis of coal is peat. Over time, it is blocked by other deposits. Peat is compressed, gradually losing gases and moisture, transforming into coal. Depending on the degree of transformation, as well as on the carbon content, it is customary to distinguish three types of this mineral:
- Brown coal (carbon content: 65-75%);
- Coal (75-95%);
- Anthracite (over 95%).
In Western countries, the classification is somewhat different. There, too, lignites, graphites, bituminous coal, etc., are isolated.
Coal is extracted from the earth's mass in two main ways:
- Open (or career), if the depth of occurrence of productive layers does not exceed 100 meters;
- Closed (mine), when coal lies too deep.
The first method is much simpler, more profitable and safer from the point of view of organizing the production process itself. However, it does more harm to the environment.
Leading countries of world coal mining
What kind of states currently produce coal in the largest amounts? These countries are presented in the table below.
|The name of the country||Share in world coal mining,%|
Approximately the same states are leading in terms of coal reserves. True, a little differently.
Leading countries for coal mining in Europe are Germany, Russia, Poland and Ukraine. The largest coal basins in this part of the planet are the Ruhr (Germany), the Upper Silesian (Poland), and Donetsk (Ukraine).
Coal mining: the arguments "for" and "against"
If there is coal in the bowels, why not extract it from there? This is one of the main arguments in favor of coal mining. Indeed, it was this fuel that man first used for his own purposes. It was thanks to coal that the industrial revolution of the 19th century was accomplished. Burning one kilogram of this fossil fuel gives a person about 25 MJ of energy. However, it is very difficult to call this energy clean and safe ...
Leading countries-leaders in coal mining (the first ten) annually extract about 7 billion tons of solid fuel from the earth. Of course, such an amount of extracted resource can not but affect the environment on a global scale. Burning coal, according to scientists and ecologists, makes a tangible contribution to the overall global warming of the Earth, which, in turn, provokes dangerous and unpredictable climate changes.
It is the factor of environmental safety that compels many highly developed countries to reduce the rate of coal production in their territories. In Europe, many mines in recent decades have been mothballed. True, interest in them can be revived as global reserves of gas and oil are depleted.
The deterioration of the seismic situation in the area is another weighty argument against active coal mining. The fact is that the extraction of any minerals from the earth's crust on such a scale never goes unnoticed. In areas adjacent to coal mines or sections, the risk of earthquakes, man-made landslides and dips increases significantly.
One way or another, the pace of global coal mining is increasing by about 2-3% every year. First of all, due to the corresponding enterprises and mines of the USA, Russia, Ukraine, India, China and a number of other Asian countries.
And the leading countries-leaders in coal mining to date - this is China, the United States and India. Every year they extract more than 5 billion tons of this solid fuel from the depths of the Earth.