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Coal Mine Site Evaluation: Development Activities and Resource Requirements

The extent, thickness, and quality of a coal seam at a potential site must be determined and the site-specific conditions of the environment must be characterized.

Before a coal mine can be planned and built, a number of tests and surveys must be conducted to ensure that the project is economically viable, technically feasible, and environmentally sound. Coal exploration activities include outcrop mapping and sampling, seismic surveys, exploratory and delineation drilling (geophysical survey, coring, drill-hole logging), induced polarization surveys using exposed electrodes; other geological and geotechnical surveys; field surveys for cultural resources, paleontological resources, and ecological resources (e.g., habitats, species); and reclamation of exploratory areas that will not be part of the project area.

Requirements and Impact Sources

  • Acreage – Space requirements vary based on the extent of the coal seam.

  • Emissions – Emissions would include dust caused by vehicles, drilling, and blasting, if needed.

  • Waste Generation -Limited amounts of drilling muds and cuttings would be generated by drilling and coring activities. Other site evaluation activities would be unlikely to generate much waste.

  • Water Needs –Limited amounts of water would be required for the drilling activities.

  • Workforce –Small crews would be needed to conduct surveys, though typically no personnel support facilities would be required.

  • Time and Materials – Surveying would occur periodically over a period of one to several years. No materials would be required beyond those needed necessary to conduct surveys. Heavy equipment may be required for seismic surveys and drilling activities.

  • Utility Requirements – Electricity needed to support on-site drilling operations probably would be supplied by electric generators that run on diesel fuel.