Environment and the role of coal geologist

I have discussed in several other articles about the complex nature of coal geology. The ideal coal geologist should have sound background in geology, geochemistry and preferably hydrogeology to properly evaluate coal mining and environmental effects. A few courses in engineering would also help a coal geologist as they evaluate the roof and floor condition of various coal mines.

In the United States, coal permit application asks a lot of questions that needs to be answered. Many of the questions are related to the environmental assessment of the permit area; overburden characterization; probable post-mining hydrologic consequence study, and so on.

Coal Mining and environment

Coal Mining and environment


Let’s list some of the questions that you should ask yourself as a coal geologist working on a mine permit:

  • Will there be change in natural topography during the mining process?
  • Will the mining activity impact the local water supply?
  • Will there be significant drop in water table in the significant aquifers?
  • Will the deep mine ever cross a stream at shallow depth and cause a stream capture/piracy?
  • Is the mining going to impact some rare vegetation?
  • Is there any endangered fauna that might be impacted by the coal mining?
  • What would be the rate of surface erosion when the vegetation cover is removed, roads built etc.?
  • Will there be any subsidence due to the underground coal extraction?
  • Will there be any contamination from the drainage outlets or from smoke and dust emission?
  • What kind of measure should be taken to reduce noise?
  • How would dust be controlled both underground and at the surface?
  • Every state has their own form and fees for coal mine applications. For example, in Virginia, $350.00 application fee (Cash, Check/Money Order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia) is needed to file a completed DM-CM-1 Form (Mine License Application).

In short, mine permit application would require high level of professional experience and expertise to properly fill out all necessary information. Professional geologists are usually hired for the permitting process although in-house geologists are also capable of completing various sections of the coal mine permits.

As a coal geologist, it would be most important to be truthful about the findings and report all findings to the authority. If problems are found, they should be pointed out clearly. Possible
“special handling” options should be noted in the mining permit which should be strictly followed during the mining process. Coal industry in its earlier days left wide adverse footprints around the world. As a modern coal geologist, we should not repeat the mistakes.

Most of the coal companies operating today are pro-active in environmental conservation. Numerous examples of beautiful restoration sites all over the world prove the immense improvement in coal mining. As a coal geologist, we should be careful and through with our investigation and act promptly to implement corrective measure if field conditions change that what is expected from the exploration phase.

Please contact Ankan Basu, P.G (Geologist/Hydrogeologist) for any projects related to coal mining and exploration.

Email: admin@coalgeology.com

Phone: 304-888-4184



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