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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Hydrocarbons > Coal > Resource Development > Open Pit Mining

Resource Inventory

Open Pit Mining

Luscar Open Pit Coal MineOpen pit mining is used most often in mountainous areas. This is because in the mountains, coal seams are irregular and localized. Oftentimes, explosives are used to loosen the rock overburden, which is removed and initially stored outside of the area being mined. Mining is then almost a vertical operation with pits becoming wider and deeper as the mining progresses. 

In the mountains and foothills of Alberta and British Columbia, coal seams are twisted and faulted and usually mined from large, open pit excavations. An open pit mine typically consists of a number of different pits, which are developed sequentially. Because of the complex nature of mountainous coal deposits, reclaiming the site of an open pit mine can be more difficult than reclaiming a strip mine on the plains.

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