Report: APP CMHS Project 1

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2.6.1. Overview

In 2008, there were 1458 operating coal mines (852 open cut mines, 606 underground) in the United States of America, that produced 1.17 Bt of coal from estimated recoverable coal reserves of 275 billion tons. It is the second largest global coal producer and the fourth largest coal exporter (at approximately 81.5 Million Short Tons - 2008). Coal accounts for approx. 23 % of total energy consumption in U.S.A. (Figure 19) and is primarily used to generate electricity (91 percent of coal use). 49 % of the total electricity production in the U.S. in 2007 was from coal, as shown in Figure 20. It is predicted that increasing coal use for electricity generation, along with the implementation of coal to liquid (CTL) plants, will lead to growth in coal production averaging 0.2 percent per year from 2008 to 2035. The main mining areas are Appalachia (Northern, Central and Southern), and the Illinois, Powder River and Uinta Basins, as shown in Figure 21.

Figure 19 US energy provision (Source US Energy Information Administration)

Figure 20 U.S. Electricity Source in 2007 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

Figure 21 Main coal mining areas in U.S.A. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

The primary safety issues of concern to underground coal mines in the U.S. are airborne and respirable coal dust, noise, ignition/explosion of dust and gas, collisions of plant and people, mine fire and ground control.

A number of mining companies are facing emerging conditions such as increased seam gas content, outburst risks and higher geotechnical stress levels associated with increased mining depth and multiple seam mining.

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