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Mining Review 1/2: Open Cast Mining (1947)


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Today, every available method is being used to back up the miners in their drive for more coal. In the South Wales coalfield, millions of tons of coal lie just below the surface, and this is the method used to lift it: open cast mining.

From this site alone, over a quarter of a million tons of coal have been taken, and there's plenty still to be dug. This is coal-getting using machinery on a giant scale: giant excavators, grabs and bulldozers. But first, the overburden is removed to expose the coal beneath.

This work continues unceasingly, day and night. It makes a mess of the landscape, but when the seam is worked out the surface rocks and soil will be replaced and the site left very much as it looked before digging began.

This excavator weighs over 200 tons and moves about the site on its own legs. Roads to the site must be levelled by bulldozers. The coal is scooped out, tons at a time. Exactly the same coal as that mined underground, dumped into lorries and carted away to be washed and screened and delivered to the rail head.

Open cast mining is an emergency measure to give the country all the additional coal possible during the present overall shortage.