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6 novembre 2011 7 06 /11 /novembre /2011 10:14

Modern surface mining

When coal seams are near the surface, it may be economical to extract the coal using open cut (also referred to as open cast, open pit, or strip) mining methods. Open cast coal mining recovers a greater proportion of the coal deposit than underground methods, as more of the coal seams in the strata may be exploited. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ190N/B Battery

Large Open Cast mines can cover an area of many square kilometers and use very large pieces of equipment. This equipment can include the following: Draglines which operate by removing the overburden, power shovels, large trucks in which transport overburden and coal, bucket wheel excavators, and conveyors.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ190N/BC Battery

In this mining method, explosives are first used in order to break through the surface, or overburden, of the mining area. The overburden is then removed by draglines or by shovel and truck. Once the coal seam is exposed, it is drilled, fractured and thoroughly mined in strips.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ191N/XC Battery

The coal is then loaded on to large trucks or conveyors for transport to either the coal preparation plant or directly to where it will be used.

Most open cast mines in the United States extract bituminous coal. In Australia and South Africa open cast mining is used for both thermal and metallurgical coals.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ195N/XC Battery

In New South Wales open casting for steam coal and anthracite is practiced. Surface mining accounts for around 80 percent of production in Australia, while in the US it is used for about 67 percent of production. Globally, about 40 percent of coal production involves surface mining.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ198N/RC Battery

Area mining

Strip mining exposes the coal by removing the overburden (the earth above the coal seam(s)) in long cuts or strips. The soil from the first strip is deposited in an area outside the planned mining area. Spoil from subsequent cuts is deposited as fill in the previous cut after coal has been removed. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ250N/B Battery

Usually, the process is todrill the strip of overburden next to the previously mined strip.

The drill holes are filled with explosives and blasted. The overburden is then removed using large earthmoving equipment such as draglines, shovel and trucks,excavator and trucks, or bucket-wheels and conveyors. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ250N/N Battery

This overburden is put into the previously mined (and now empty) strip. When all the overburden is removed, the underlying coal seam will be exposed (a 'block' of coal). This block of coal may be drilled and blasted (if hard) or otherwise loaded onto trucks or conveyors for transport to the coal preparation (or wash) plant. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ250N/P Battery

Once this strip is empty of coal, the process is repeated with a new strip being created next to it. This method is most suitable for areas with flat terrain.

Equipment to be used depends on geologic conditions. For example, to remove overburden that is loose or unconsolidated, a bucket wheel excavator might be the most productive. The life of some area mines may be more than 50 years.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ27/N Battery

Contour mining

The contour mining method consists of removing overburden from the seam in a pattern following the contours along a ridge or around a hillside. This method is most commonly used in areas with rolling to steep terrain. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ270N/B Battery

It was once common to deposit the spoil on the downslope side of the bench thus created, but this method of spoil disposal consumed much additional land and created severe landslide and erosion problems. To alleviate these problems, a variety of methods were devised to use freshly cut overburden to refill mined-out areas.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ27N Battery

These haul-back or lateral movement methods generally consist of an initial cut with the spoil deposited downslope or at some other site and spoil from the second cut refilling the first. A ridge of undisturbed natural material 15 to 20 ft (5–6 m) wide is often intentionally left at the outer edge of the mined area. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ28/N Battery

This barrier adds stability to the reclaimed slope by preventing spoil from slumping or sliding downhill.

The limitations on contour strip mining are both economic and technical. When the operation reaches a predetermined stripping ratio (tons of overburden/tons of coal), it is not profitable to continue. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ285N/RC Battery

Depending on the equipment available, it may not be technically feasible to exceed a certain height of highwall. At this point, it is possible to produce more coal with the augering method in which spiral drills bore tunnels into a highwall laterally from the bench to extract coal without removing the overburden.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ28N Battery

Mountaintop removal mining

Mountaintop coal mining is a surface mining practice involving removal of mountaintops to expose coal seams, and disposing of associated mining overburden in adjacent "valley fills." Valley fills occur in steep terrain where there are limited disposal alternatives.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ290EAB Battery

Mountaintop removal combines area and contour strip mining methods. In areas with rolling or steep terrain with a coal seam occurring near the top of a ridge or hill, the entire top is removed in a series of parallel cuts. Overburden is deposited in nearby valleys and hollows. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ290EAN Battery

This method usually leaves ridge and hill tops as flattened plateaus. The process is highly controversial for the drastic changes in topography, the practice of creating head-of-hollow-fills, or filling in valleys with mining debris, and for covering streams and disrupting ecosystems.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ290EAP Battery

Spoil is placed at the head of a narrow, steep-sided valley or hollow. In preparation for filling this area, vegetation and soil are removed and a rock drain constructed down the middle of the area to be filled, where a natural drainage course previously existed.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ295N/XC Battery

When the fill is completed, this underdrain will form a continuous water runoff system from the upper end of the valley to the lower end of the fill. Typical head-of-hollow fills are graded and terraced to create permanently stable slopes.

Room and pillar mining

Room and pillar mining consists of coal deposits that are mined by cutting a network of rooms into the coal seam. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ298N/XC Battery

Pillars of coal are left behind in order to keep up the roof. The pillars can make up to forty percent of the total coal in the seam, however where there was space to leave head and floor coal there is evidence from recent open cast excavations that 18th century operators used a variety of room and pillar techniques to remove 92 percent of the in situ coal.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ33/B Battery

However, this can be extracted at a later stage (see Retreat Mining).

Underground mining

Most coal seams are too deep underground for opencast mining and require underground mining, a method that currently accounts for about 60 percent of world coal production.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ33/N Battery

In deep mining, the room and pillar or bord and pillarmethod progresses along the seam, while pillars and timber are left standing to support the mine roof. Once room and pillar mines have been developed to a stopping point (limited by geology, ventilation, or economics),Sony VAIO VGN-TZ33/W Battery

a supplementary version of room and pillar mining, termed second mining or retreat mining, is commonly started. Miners remove the coal in the pillars, thereby recovering as much coal from the coal seam as possible. A work area involved in pillar extraction is called a pillar section.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ350N/B Battery

Modern pillar sections use remote-controlled equipment, including large hydraulic mobile roof-supports, which can prevent cave-ins until the miners and their equipment have left a work area. The mobile roof supports are similar to a large dining-room table, but with hydraulic jacks for legs.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ350N/N Battery

After the large pillars of coal have been mined away, the mobile roof support's legs shorten and it is withdrawn to a safe area. The mine roof typically collapses once the mobile roof supports leave an area.

There are five principal methods of underground mining: Sony VAIO VGN-TZ350N/P Battery

  • Longwall mining accounts for about 50 percent of underground production. The longwall shearer has a face of 1,000 feet (300 m) or more. It is a sophisticated machine with a rotating drum that moves mechanically back and forth across a wide coal seam. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ370N/B Battery
  • The loosened coal falls on to a pan line that takes the coal to the conveyor belt for removal from the work area. Longwall systems have their own hydraulic roof supports which advance with the machine as mining progresses. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ37N/G Battery
  • As the longwall mining equipment moves forward, overlying rock that is no longer supported by coal is allowed to fall behind the operation in a controlled manner. The supports make possible high levels of production and safety. Sensors detect how much coal remains in the seam while robotic controls enhance efficiency.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ37N/P Battery
  • Longwall systems allow a 60-to-100 percent coal recovery rate when surrounding geology allows their use. Once the coal is removed, usually 75 percent of the section, the roof is allowed to collapse in a safe manner.
  • Continuous mining utilizes a machine with a large rotating steel drum equipped with tungsten carbide teeth that scrape coal from the seam.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ37N/R Battery
  • Operating in a “room and pillar” (also known as “bord and pillar”) system—where the mine is divided into a series of 20-to-30 foot (5–10 m) “rooms” or work areas cut into the coalbed—it can mine as much as five tons of coal a minute, more than a non-mechanised mine of the 1920s would produce in an entire day. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ37N/X Battery
  • Continuous miners account for about 45 percent of underground coal production. Conveyors transport the removed coal from the seam. Remote-controlled continuous miners are used to work in a variety of difficult seams and conditions, and robotic versions controlled by computers are becoming increasingly common. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ38N/X Battery
  • Continuous mining is truly a misnomer, as room and pillar coal mining is very cyclical. In the US, one can generally cut 20 ft (or a bit more with MSHA permission), after which, the face has to be serviced, before it can be advanced again. During servicing, the "continuous" miner moves to another face.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ398U/XC Battery
  • Some continuous miners can bolt and dust the face (two major components of servicing) while cutting coal, while a trained crew may be able to advance ventilation, to truly earn the "continuous" label. However, very few mines are able to achieve it. Most continuous mining machines in use in the US lack the ability to bolt and dust. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ50B Battery
  • This may partly be because incorporation of bolting makes the machines wider, and therefore, less maneuverable.
  • Blast mining or conventional mining, is an older practice that uses explosives such as dynamite to break up the coal seam, after which the coal is gathered and loaded on to shuttle cars or conveyors for removal to a central loading area. Sony VAIO VGN-TZ90HS Battery
  • This process consists of a series of operations that begins with “cutting” the coalbed so it will break easily when blasted with explosives. This type of mining accounts for less than 5 percent of total underground production in the US today.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ90NS Battery
  • Shortwall mining, a method currently accounting for less than 1 percent of deep coal production, involves the use of a continuous mining machine with movable roof supports, similar to longwall. The continuous miner shears coal panels 150 to 200 feet (40 to 60 m) wide and more than a half-mile (1 km) long, having regard to factors such as geological strata.Sony VAIO VGN-TZ90S Battery
  • Retreat mining is a method in which the pillars or coal ribs used to hold up the mine roof are extracted; allowing the mine roof to collapse as the mining works back towards the entrance. This is one of the most dangerous forms of mining, owing to imperfect predictability of when the ceiling will collapse and possibly crush or trap workers in the mine.Sony VAIO VPC CW2MFX/PU Battery


Coal is mined commercially in over 50 countries. Over 7,036 Mt/yr of hard coal is currently produced, a substantial increase over the past 25 years. In 2006, the world production of brown coal and lignite was slightly over 1,000 Mt, with Germany the world’s largest brown coal producer at 194.4 Mt, and China second at 100.6 Mt.Sony VAIO VPC S11V9E/B Battery

Coal production has grown fastest in Asia, while Europe has declined. The top coal mining nations (figures in brackets are 2009 estimate of total coal production in millions of tons).

Most coal production is used in the country of origin, with around 16 percent of hard coal production being exported.Sony VAIO VPCB119GJ/B Battery

Global coal production is expected to reach 7,000 Mt/yr in 2030 (Update required, world coal production is already past 7,000 Mt/yr and by 2030 will probably be closer to 13,000 Mt/yr), with China accounting for most of this increase. Steam coal production is projected to reach around 5,200 Mt/yr; coking coal 620 Mt/yr; and brown coal 1,200 Mt/yr.Sony VAIO VPCB11AGJ Battery

Coal reserves are available in almost every country worldwide, with recoverable reserves in around 70 countries. At current production levels, proven coal reserves are estimated to last 147 years.However, production levels are by no means level, and are in fact increasing and some estimates are that peak coal could arrive in many countries such as China and America by around 2030.Sony VAIO VPCB11AVJ Battery

Coal reserves are usually stated as either (1) "Resources" ("measured" + "indicated" + "inferred" = "resources", and then, a smaller number, often only 10-20% of "resources," (2) "Run of Mine" (ROM) reserves, and finally (3) "marketable reserves", which may be only 60% of ROM reserves. Sony VAIO VPCB11V9E Battery

The standards for reserves are set by stock exchanges, in consultation with industry associations. For example in ASEAN countries reserves standards follow the Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) Code used by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).Sony VAIO VPCB11X9E Battery

Modern mining

Technological advancements have made coal mining today more productive than it has ever been. To keep up with technology and to extract coal as efficiently as possible modern mining personnel must be highly skilled and well trained in the use of complex, state-of-the-art instruments and equipment.Sony VAIO VPCCW18FJ/P Battery

Many jobs require four-year university degrees. Computer knowledge has also become greatly valued within the industry as most of the machines and safety monitors are computerized.

The use of sophisticated sensing equipment to monitor air quality is common and has replaced the use of small animals such as canaries, often referred to as "miner's canaries".Sony VAIO VPCCW18FJ/R Battery

In the United States, the increase in technology has significantly decreased the mining workforce from 335,000 coal miners working at 7,200 mines fifty years ago to 104,824 miners working in fewer than 2,000 mines today.

Dangers to miners

Historically, coal mining has been a very dangerous activity and the list of historical coal mining disasters is a long one. Sony VAIO VPCCW18FJ/W Battery

In the US alone, more than 100,000 coal miners were killed in accidents over the past century, with more than 3,200 dying in 1907 alone. Open cut hazards are principally mine wall failures and vehicle collisions; underground mining hazards include suffocation, gas poisoning, roof collapse and gas explosions.Sony VAIO VPCCW19FJ/W Battery

Firedamp explosions can trigger the much more dangerous coal dust explosions, which can engulf an entire pit. Most of these risks can be greatly reduced in modern mines, and multiple fatality incidents are now rare in some parts of the developed world. Modern mining in the US results in approximately 30 deaths per year due to mine accidents.Sony VAIO VPCCW1AFJ Battery

However, in lesser developed countries and some developing countries, many miners continue to die annually, either through direct accidents in coal mines or through adverse health consequences from working under poor conditions. China, in particular, has the highest number of coal mining related deaths in the world, with official statistics claiming that 6,027 deaths occurred in 2004.Sony VAIO VPCCW1AHJ Battery

To compare, 28 deaths were reported in the US in the same year. Coal production in China is twice that in the US, while the number of coal miners is around 50 times that of the US, making deaths in coal mines in China 4 times as common per worker (108 times as common per unit output) as in the US.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E Battery

In 2006, fatal work injuries among miners in the US doubled from the previous year, totaling 47. These figures can in part be attributed to the Sago Mine disaster of January 2006. The 2007 mine accident in Utah's Crandall Canyon Mine, where nine miners were killed and six entombed, speaks to the increase in occupational risks faced by US miners.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/B Battery

More recently, the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia killed 29 miners in April 2010.

Chronic lung diseases, such as pneumoconiosis (black lung) were once common in miners, leading to reduced life expectancy. Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/L Battery

In some mining countries black lung is still common, with 4,000 new cases of black lung every year in the US (4 percent of workers annually) and 10,000 new cases every year in China (0.2 percent of workers).[25] Rates may be higher than reported in some regions.Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/P Battery

Build-ups of a hazardous gas are known as damps, possibly from the German word "Dampf" which means steam or vapor:

  • Black damp: a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in a mine can cause suffocation, and is formed as a result of corrosion in enclosed spaces so removing oxygenfrom the atmosphere. Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/R Battery
  • After damp: similar to black damp, after damp consists of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen and forms after a mine explosion.
  • Fire damp: consists of mostly methane, a highly flammable gas.
  • Stink damp: so named for the rotten egg smell of the hydrogen sulphide gas, stink damp can explode and is also very toxic.
  • White damp: air containing carbon monoxide which is toxic, even at low concentrations .Sony VAIO VPCCW1S1E/W Battery

Safer times in modern mining

Improvements in mining methods (e.g. longwall mining), hazardous gas monitoring (such as safety-lamps or more modern electronic gas monitors), gas drainage,electrical equipment, and ventilation have reduced many of the risks of rock falls, explosions, and unhealthy air quality.Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/B Battery

Statistical analyses performed by the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) show that between 1990 and 2004, the industry cut the rate of injuries by more than half and fatalities by two-thirds. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining remains the second most dangerous occupation in America.Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/L Battery

New braces called Atlas Cribs contain a mix of hardwoods and a main lateral element that make these braces stronger than other braces used in the past. The new cribbing system takes up 41 percent less area than existing ones and may be up to 50 percent more efficient in terms of airflow.Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/R Battery

Environmental impacts

Coal mining can result in a number of adverse effects on the environment. Surface mining of coal completely eliminates existing vegetation, destroys the genetic soil profile, displaces or destroys wildlife and habitat, degrades air quality, Sony VAIO VPCCW21FX/W Battery

alters current land uses, and to some extent permanently changes the general topography of the area mined,This often results in a scarred landscape with no scenic value. Rehabilitation or reclamation mitigates some of these concerns and is required by Federal Law, specifically the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.Sony VAIO VPCCW26EC Battery

Mine tailing dumps produce acid mine drainage which can seep into waterways and aquifers, with consequences on ecological and human health. If underground mine tunnels collapse, this can cause subsidence of land surfaces. During actual mining operations, methane, a known greenhouse gas, may be released into the air. Sony VAIO VPCCW26FX/B Battery

And by the movement, storage, and redistribution of soil, the community of microorganisms and nutrient cycling processes can be disrupted.

The People's Republic of China is by far the largest producer of coal in the world, producing over 2.8 billion tons of coal in 2007, or approximately 39.8 percent of all coal produced in the world during that year.Sony VAIO VPCCW28EC Battery

For comparison, the second largest producer, the United States, produced more than 1.1 billion tons in 2007. An estimated 5 million people work in China's coal-mining industry. As many as 20,000 miners die in accidents each year.  Most Chinese mines are deep underground and do not produce the surface disruption typical of strip mines.Sony VAIO VPCCW28FJ/P Battery

Although there is some evidence of reclamation of mined land for use as parks, China does not require extensive reclamation and is creating significant acreages of abandoned mined land which is unsuitable for agriculture or other human uses, and inhospitable to indigenous wildlife.Sony VAIO VPCCW28FJ/R Battery

Chinese underground mines often experience severe surface subsidence (6–12 meters), negatively impacting farmland because it no longer drains well. China uses some subsidence areas for [[Aquaculture in China|aquaculture]] ponds but has more than they need for that purpose.Sony VAIO VPCCW28FJ/W Battery

Reclamation of subsided ground is a significant problem in China. Because most Chinese coal is for domestic consumption and is burned with little or no air pollution control equipment, it contributes greatly to visible smoke and severe air pollution in industrial areas using coal for fuel.Sony VAIO VPCCW29FJ/W Battery


Some of the world's largest coal reserves are located in South America, and an opencast mine at Cerrejón in Colombiais one of the world's largest open pit mines. Output of the mine in 2004 was 24.9 million tons (compared to total global hard coal production of 4,600 million tons). Sony VAIO VPCCW2AFJ Battery

Cerrejón contributed about half of Colombia's coal exports of 52 million tons that year, with Colombia ranked sixth among major coal exporting nations. The company planned to expand production to 32 million tons by 2008. The company has its own 150 km standard-gauge railroad, connecting the mine to its coal-loading terminal at Puerto Bolívar on the Caribbean coast. Sony VAIO VPCCW2AHJ Battery

There are two 120-car unit trains, each carrying 12,000 tons of coal per trip. The round-trip time for each train, including loading and unloading, is about 12 hours. The coal facilities at the port are capable of loading 4,800 tons per hour on to vessels of up to 175,000 tons of dead weight. Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E Battery

The mine, railroad and port operate 24 hours per day. Cerrejón directly employs 4,600 workers, with a further 3,800 employed by contractors. The reserves at Cerrejón are low-sulfur, low-ash, bituminous coal. The coal is mostly used for electric power generation, with some also used in steel manufacture. Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/B Battery

The surface mineable reserves for the current contract are 330 million tons. However, total proven reserves to a depth of 300 metres are 3,000 million tons.

Coalbed methane (CBM) or Coal Bed Methane , coalbed gas or coal mine methane (CMM) is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/L Battery

In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, and other countries. Australia has rich deposits where it is known as coal seam gas (abbreviated "CSG" ).

The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called 'sweet gas' because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/P Battery

The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk. Coalbed methane, often referred to as CBM, is distinct from a typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by a process called adsorption.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/R Battery

The methane is in a near-liquid state, lining the inside of pores within the coal (called the matrix). The open fractures in the coal (called the cleats) can also contain free gas or can be saturated with water.

Unlike much natural gas from conventional reservoirs, coalbed methane contains very little heavier hydrocarbons such as propane or butane, and no natural gas condensate.Sony VAIO VPCCW2S1E/W Battery

It often contains up to a few percent carbon dioxide. Some coal seams, such as those in certain areas of the Illawarra Coal Measures in NSW, Australia, contain little methane, with the predominant coal seam gas being carbon dioxide.

Permeability of coal bed methane reservoirs

Permeability is key factor for CBM. Coal itself is a low permeability reservoir. Sony VAIO VPCCW2S5C CN1 Battery

Almost all the permeability of a coal bed is usually considered to be due to fractures, which in coal are in the form of cleats and joints. The permeability of the coal matrix is negligible by comparison. Coal cleats are of two types: butt cleats and face cleats, which occur at nearly right angles.Sony VAIO VPCF112FX/B Battery

The face cleats are continuous and provide paths of higher permeability while butt cleats are discontinuous and end at face cleats. Joints are larger fractures through the coal that may cross lithological boundaries. Hence, on a small scale, fluid flow through coal bed methane reservoirs usually follows rectangular paths. Sony VAIO VPCF115FG/B Battery

The ratio of permeabilities in the face cleat direction over the butt cleat direction may range from 1:1 to 17:1. Because of this anisotropic permeability, drainage areas around coal bed methane wells are often elliptical in shape.Sony VAIO VPCF116FGBI Battery

Intrinsic properties affecting gas production

Gas contained in coal bed methane is mainly methane and trace quantities of ethane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and few other gases. Intrinsic properties of coal as found in nature determine the amount of gas that can be recovered.Sony VAIO VPCF117FJ/W Battery


The porosity of coal bed reservoirs is usually very small, ranging from 0.1 to 10%.

Adsorption capacity

Adsorption capacity of coal is defined as the volume of gas adsorbed per unit mass of coal usually expressed in SCF (standard cubic feet, the volume at standard pressure and temperature conditions) gas/ton of coal. Sony VAIO VPCF117HG/BI Battery

The capacity to adsorb depends on the rank and quality of coal. The range is usually between 100 to 800 SCF/ton for most coal seams found in the US. Most of the gas in coal beds is in the adsorbed form. When the reservoir is put into production, water in the fracture spaces is pumped off first. Sony VAIO VPCF118FJ/W Battery

This leads to a reduction of pressure enhancing desorption of gas from the matrix.

Fracture permeability

As discussed before, the fracture permeability acts as the major channel for the gas to flow. The higher the permeability, higher is the gas production.Sony VAIO VPCF119FC Battery

For most coal seams found in the US, the permeability lies in the range of 0.1 to 50 milliDarcies. The permeability of fractured reservoirs changes with the stress applied to them. Coal displays a stress-sensitive permeability and this process plays an important role during stimulation and production operations.Sony VAIO VPCF119FC/BI Battery

Thickness of formation and initial reservoir pressure

The thickness of the formation may not be directly proportional to the volume of gas produced in some areas.

For Example: It has been observed in the Cherokee Basin in Southeast Kansas that a well with a single zone of 1–2 ft of pay can produce excellent gas rates, whereas an alternative formation with twice the thickness can produce next to nothing. Sony VAIO VPCF119FJ/BI Battery

Some coal (and shale) formations may have high gas concentrations regardless of the formation's thickness, probably due to other factors of the area's geology.

The pressure difference between the well block and the sand face should be as high as possible as is the case with any producing reservoir in general.Sony VAIO VPCF11AFJ Battery

Other properties

Other affecting parameters include coal density, initial gas phase concentration, critical gas saturation, irreducible water saturation, relative permeability to water and gas at conditions of Sw = 1.0 and Sg = 1-Swirreducible respectively.Sony VAIO VPCF11AGJ Battery


To extract the gas, a steel-encased hole is drilled into the coal seam (100–1500 meters below ground). As the pressure within the coal seam declines due to natural production or the pumping of water from the coalbed, both gas and 'produced water' come to the surface through tubing. Sony VAIO VPCF11AHJ Battery

Then the gas is sent to a compressor station and into natural gas pipelines. The 'produced water' is either reinjected into isolated formations, released into streams, used for irrigation, or sent to evaporation ponds. The water typically contains dissolved solids such as sodium bicarbonate and chloride.Sony VAIO VPCF11JFX/B Battery

Coalbed methane wells often produce at lower gas rates than conventional reservoirs, typically peaking at near 300,000 cubic feet (8,500 m3) per day (about 0.100 m³/s), and can have large initial costs. The production profiles of CBM wells are typically characterized by a "negative decline" in which the gas production rate initially increases as the water is pumped off and gas begins to desorb and flow. A dry CBM well is similar to a standard gas well.Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E Battery

The methane desorption process follows a curve (of gas content vs. reservoir pressure) called a Langmuir isotherm. The isotherm can be analytically described by a maximum gas content (at infinite pressure), and the pressure at which half that gas exists within the coal. Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H Battery

These parameters (called the Langmuir volume and Langmuir pressure, respectively) are properties of the coal, and vary widely. A coal in Alabama and a coal in Colorado may have radically different Langmuir parameters, despite otherwise similar coal properties.Sony VAIO VPCF11MFX/B Battery

As production occurs from a coal reservoir, the changes in pressure are believed to cause changes in the porosity and permeability of the coal. This is commonly known as matrix shrinkage/swelling. As the gas is desorbed, the pressure exerted by the gas inside the pores decreases, causing them to shrink in size and restricting gas flow through the coal.Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E Battery

As the pores shrink, the overall matrix shrinks as well, which may eventually increase the space the gas can travel through (the cleats), increasing gas flow.

The potential of a particular coalbed as a CBM source depends on the following criteria. Cleat density/intensity: cleats are joints confined within coal sheets. Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B Battery

They impart permeability to the coal seam. A high cleat density is required for profitable exploitation of CBM. Also important is the maceral composition: maceral is a microscopic, homogeneous, petrographic entity of a corresponding sedimentary rock. A high vitrinite composition is ideal for CBM extraction, while inertinite hampers the same.Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E Battery

The rank of coal has also been linked to CBM content: a vitrinite reflectance of 0.8-1.5% has been found to imply higher productivity of the coalbed.

The gas composition must be considered, because natural gas appliances are designed for gas with a heating value of about 1000 BTU (British thermal units) per cubic foot, or nearly pure methane. Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E/BI Battery

If the gas contains more than a few percent non-flammable gases such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide, either these will have to be removed or it will have to be blended with higher-BTU gas to achieve pipeline quality. If the methane composition of the coalbed gas is less than 92%, it may not be commercially marketable.Sony VAIO VPCF11ZHJ Battery

Environmental impacts

CBM wells are connected by a network of roads, pipelines, and compressor stations. Over time, wells may be spaced more closely in order to extract the remaining methane. Additionally, the produced water may contain undesirable concentrations of dissolved substances. Water withdrawal may depress aquifers over a large area and affect groundwater flows. Sony VAIO VPCF127HGBI Battery

In Australia, produced water is typically evaporated in large ponds due to the high salinity of the water. When these ponds fail (e.g. Chinchilla) the salinity content has destroyed contiguous soil quality and vegetation. Recently a number of gas companies have commenced operating or developing plant to treat the product water for use as domestic supply, Sony VAIO VPCF137HG/BI Battery

cooling water for power stations or discharge to streams. These plant typically use reverse osmosis to treat the product water.

The environmental impacts of CBM development are considered by various governmental bodies during the permitting process and operation, which provide opportunities for public comment and intervention.Sony VAIO VPCS111FM/S Battery

Operators are required to obtain building permits for roads, pipelines and structures, obtain wastewater (produced water) discharge permits, and prepare Environmental Impact Statements. As with other natural resource utilization activities, the application and effectiveness of environmental laws, regulation, and enforcement vary with location.Sony VAIO VPCS115EC Battery

Violations of applicable laws and regulations are addressed through regulatory bodies and criminal and civil judicial proceedings.

Several environmental and conservation organizations work specifically on advocating for responsible coal bed methane development. Northern Plains Resource Council has been leading this fight in Montana since 1999, and the Citizens Concerned About Coalbed Methane has worked out of Fernie, BC since 1998.Sony VAIO VPCS115FG Battery


Coalbed methane reserve estimates vary; however a 1997 estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey predicts more than 700 trillion cubic feet (20 trillion cubic metres) of methane within the US. At a natural gas price of US$6.05 per million Btu (US$5.73/GJ), that volume is worth US$4.37trillion.Sony VAIO VPCS117GG Battery

At least 100 trillion cubic feet (2.8 trillion cubic metres) of it is economically viable to produce.

In Canada, British Columbia is estimated to have approximately 90 trillion cubic feet (2.5 trillion cubic metres) of coalbed gas.Sony VAIO VPCS117GGB Battery

" title="Sony VAIO VPCS117GGB laptop battery">Alberta, to date the only province with commercial coalbed methane wells, is estimated to have approximately 170 trillion cubic feet (4.8 trillion cubic metres) of economically recoverable coalbed methane.

Recent depressed natural gas prices have made CBM less economically viable compared to the past few years.Sony VAIO VPCS118EC Battery

Currently considered a non-renewable resource, there is evidence by the Alberta Research Council, Alberta Geological Survey and others showing coalbed methane is arenewable resource, because the bacterial action that formed the methane is ongoing. Sony VAIO VPCS119FJ/B Battery

The assertion of being renewable, however, has itself become one of debate since it has also been shown that the dewatering that accompanies CBM production destroys the conditions needed for the bacteria to produce methane.In addition, the rate of formation of additional methane is undetermined. Sony VAIO VPCS119GC Battery

This debate is currently causing a right of ownership issue in the Canadian province of Alberta, as only non-renewable resources can legally be owned by the province.Sony VAIO VPCS11AFJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCS11AGJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCS11AHJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCS11AVJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCS11J7E/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCS11M1E/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCS11V9E Battery

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