chapter  18
The Strip Mining Dilemma: The Case of Virginia
WithJames E. Rowe
Pages 9

The surface coal mining industry is presently the focus of an intense public debate. Surface mining obtains coal by less expensive techniques than deep mining, and its use has greatly increased in recent years. Barring legislation or court intervention, this trend may be expected to continue because stripping is more profitable than underground methods. On an average, strip mining recovers up to 90 percent of a coal deposit, while deep mining removes 60 percent. By stripping, production per man-day approximates thirty-five tons versus eleven tons by deep mining. 1 In Virginia and Tennessee, where coal seams range from eighteen to sixty inches thick, contour stripping yields 2,400 to 8,100 tons per acre. 2