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Strip Mining

This method is 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 mines. When extraction is complete, the overburden is replaced and the land is returned as much as possible to its former productive site.

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 called strips. 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. The only difference is the method of getting at the coal, however. Stripping techniques may produce a lower cost fuel to homes and industries throughout Alberta and Canada.