Natural resources are the foundation for our lives and lifestyles.
What would our lives be like without mining? Imagine a world without transportation such as jet planes or railroads, without communications such as cell phones or radar, without decorative items such as art or jewelry, without buildings such as skyscrapers or parking garages, without defense systems items such as missiles or submarines, without medical care items such as X-rays or surgical tools. We wouldn’t have any of these things without mining and minerals.
Description: Coal: One of the world’s major sources of energy. In the United States, coal provides approximately 23% of all the energy consumed. Coal is used to produce more than half of all the electrical energy that is generated and used in the United States. Coal is a very complex and diverse energy resource that can vary greatly, even within the same deposit. In general, there are four basic varieties of coal, which are the result of geologic forces having altered plant material in different ways. These varieties descended from the first stage in the formation of coal: the creation of peat or partially decomposed plant material.
Lignite: Increased pressures and heat from overlying strata causes buried peat to dry and harden into lignite. Lignite is a brownish-black coal with generally high moisture and ash content and lower heating value. However, it is an important form of energy for generating electricity. Significant lignite mining operations are located in Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Montana.
Subbituminous Coal: Under still more pressure, some lignite was changed into the next rank of coal subbituminous. This is a dull black coal with a higher heating value than lignite that is used primarily for generating electricity and for space heating. Most subbituminous reserves are located in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington and Alaska.
Bituminous Coal: Even greater pressure results in the creation of bituminous, or “soft” coal. This is the type most commonly used for electric power generation in the U.S. It has a higher heating value than either lignite or subbituminous, but less than that of anthracite. Bituminous coal is mined chiefly in Appalachia and the Midwest. Also used to make coke.
Anthracite: Sometimes also called “hard coal,” anthracite forms from bituminous coal when great pressures developed in folded rock strata during the creation of mountain ranges. This occurs only in limited geographic areas - primarily the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania. Anthracite has the highest energy content of all coals and is used for space heating and generating electricity.