A Damaging Industry.
Coal mining can take shape in many different forms. The most traditional and familiar of coal mining form is deep mining. Deep mining is basically burrowing into a mountain side where there is a lucratively thick “seam” of coal. These seams can range from just a few inches to a several feet thick. It’s blasted out then collected in small hopper cars to bring to the surface.
Deep mining is probably the least intrusive form of coal mining to the environment, but it doesn’t come without its hazards as it is probably one of the most dangerous professions there is. In deep mining, once coal is brought to the surface it has to be processed by spraying the dust out with water. This water runs of to collection ponds which sit forever without cleansing. Occasionally with a heavy rain this toxic water will run off and get into river watersheds. This toxicity in the water can kill the natural wildlife.
Another form of coal mining is strip mining. The coal seam is exposed most times around the entire contour of a mountain. the coal is then removed. Due to environmental laws the “overburden” must be replaced to restore the mountain to its original state. Water runoff into the watershed is still and issue here.
Finally the most damaging form of mining is mountaintop removal. Literally an entire mountain top is removed and dumped into some valley. The then exposed coal seam is removed.
This is the controversy: the mountain tops are NOT restored. Basically the mining companies are physically changing the topography of an entire mountain range. Again, toxic coal dust run off is and issue which is the most harmful of all types coal mining
Mining coal doesn’t seem to have progressed for the better.