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Economic Exploitation of Deep Coal Seams by Opencast Methods


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Author Brett M T and Brown N R


This paper attempts to highlight some of the problems encountered in the economic exploitation of the deeper coal seams by opencast mining methods. The major cost elements of three methods of overburden removal are examined in relation to the overall cost of winning coal from deeper-lying coal seams. The three overburden removal methods examined are dragline stripping and two systems combining dragline stripping with shovels and trucks at varying depths of overburden. A dragline is, undoubtedly, the most cost effective system of overburden removal for depths of up to 30 metres but it is suggested that, when dealing with incremental overburden depths in excess of 30 metres, engineers should consider carefully the possibility of using a shovel and truck operation, or other system, to augment the use of a dragline.