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Adverse Impact of Coal mining

Updated on September 13, 2012
Stripping of Land in Coal Mining
Stripping of Land in Coal Mining | Source

1. Coal Mining

Adverse Impact of Coal Mining


Coal a naturally occurring fossil fuel is a major source of energy generation since thousand years. Coal is found significantly across the globe with plenty of its deposits just beneath the earth surface at various levels. The worldwide deposits of coal, if exploited in full capacity could meet the energy requirement of developing nations for hundred years. However, there are reasons to know why the energy hungry nations do not exploit this valuable source of energy with their full potential. we can rightly say that the existing environmental factors in coal mining is a major cause of concern that deeply hinders the extraction of coal for energy purposes. Here we will take a note of issues associated with the extraction of coal along with severe impacts that it poses to human life, environment and land resources:-

1. Coal Mining and Safety of Coal miners. Coal is found below the earth surface ranges from 50 – 2,000 feet. Resultantly coal extraction is carried out with the help of heavy machinery which involves blasting, ripping and excavating coal digging, explosion in the depth depending upon the availability of coal deposit. But the practice of mining is disastrous for mine workers who faces safety risks of life in harsh working conditions with poor standard of safety at work site. Besides, they also faces lung diseases and other health hazards. Notwithstanding the above fact, majority of the countries forget the past incidents and continue to face tragedies from time to time.

2. Environmental Factors. Coal mining and processing has a negative impact on environment and is widely related to issues like land use, waste management, water and air pollution since long. In late twentieth century, the environmental activists raised voice against air pollution, coal waste and emission of gases detrimental to earth atmosphere. The emission of toxic gases into air due to combustion is seen to have created the phenomenon of “greenhouse effect”. These factors collectively add to the rising temperature of earth and contribute to Global Warming. Some of the adverse impacts of coal mining related to environment are given below:-

a. Impact on Habitat. The natural habitation of plant and animals that flourishes close to the area of coal mining is completely destroyed and out rooted. Resultantly, animal species tend to migrate from the area and plant species seize to exist. In other words, we can say that fauna and flora in the vicinity of coal site is largely affected. During preliminary survey, this factor is very often ignored and only emphasis is given to the economical factor.

b. Erosion of Surface Soil. The activity of coal mining is associated with the removal of soft and thick vegetative cover in the adjacent areas for building roads, making stockpiles and displacement of surface soil. It takes hundred of years for fertile soil to make a layer of few inches capable of supporting and nourishing plant and micro-organisms. What the nature has made and developed with the passage of time is washed out at once and naturally attractive site is converted into black heaps and fly ashes.

c. Water Contamination. Once coal extraction is started, water at bed-level and on surface like in ponds, lakes, stream or river is contaminated with different toxic substances making it unfit for drinking and cultivation. The mountain saddles are filled with stocks of soil and black ash which culminate in drainage problems. Several diseases could be traced in victims of contaminated water including reduction in life expectancy.

d. Emission of Coal waste. Coal burning releases a number of toxic chemicals which pollutes the air. Acid rain is an example of air pollution. Similarly coal wastes are not dumped at far off places further aggravating the situation.

e. Emission of CO2. The emission of coal which is widely used for generating electricity largely contributes to the increase of CO2 in atmosphere. Beside other environmental hazards, acidification of ocean is also increased due to this factor which readily affect marine life. Some of the marine species have shown decline in their population, but it needs a calculated estimate to exactly narrate the disaster originating from the emission of carbon dioxide. Many of us will agree that the emission of carbon dioxide is harmful for all living organism but very few of us will try to control or contribute in this regard.

h. Land Reclamation. After stripping of land and coal mining the land remains barren and is not suitable for cultivation. This point should be kept in mind while exploring possibilities for coal mining that a fertile land should not be compromised if alternative is available. If the circumstances do not allow to avoid coal mining in a fertile area, then sufficient steps must be taken to return the land to its original condition through soil reclamation.

All these factors contribute to the hurdles being faced and considered in the extraction of Coal. Mostly developing countries who are energy hungry do not pay due attention to the calamities brought by Coal mining.

Strip Mining for Coal


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