mining is most often used on the plains. Large equipment, such as draglines, removes the overlying
soil and rock (overburden) to expose a relatively horizontal coal seam.
Overburden is placed in piles behind the area being mined. When extraction is
complete, the overburden is replaced and the land is returned as much as
possible to its former state.
Strip mining is
used on the prairies where coal seams are fairly horizontal and close to the
surface. Large machinery exposes and extracts the coal in a series of rows
In the early days of strip mining there arose a prejudice in some
circles over the use of strip-produced coal. It was felt that strip-mined coal
was not as good as underground coal. There was no basis to this, however, as the only difference
between these coals is the method of
getting at it. Stripping techniques are actually less costly, and may produce a lower-cost fuel
to homes and industries throughout Alberta and Canada.