Surface mining before 1950

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National Mining Association estimate

The National Mining Association has published a historical table of bituminous coal mining (including sub-bituminous and lignite production), including share of mining produced by "stripping." According to the table (citing data from the now-defunct U.S. Bureau of Mines), data on surface mining is not available prior to 1914. In 1914, 0.3% of bituminous coal was produced by "stripping." Surface mining reached 1% of bituminous production in 1917, and it first exceeded 10% of production in 1941.[1]

The following table shows the growth of surface mining as a percentage of bituminous (including sub-bituminous and lignite) production, and by total tonnage from 1917-1971. The table does not include anthracite production.[1] (Note: The last column, "Acres," is not provided in the National Mining Association table. It is based on the estimate that approximately 200 acres are disturbed per million tons of coal produced.)

Year Production Surface mined Surface mined Area disturbed
(million tons) (percent) (million tons) (acres)
______________ ________________ _________________ _________________ ________________
1914 423 0.3% 1.3 254
1915 443 0.6% 2.7 532
1916 503 0.8% 4.0 805
1917 552 1.0% 5.5 1,104
1918 579 1.4% 8.1 1,621
1919 466 1.2% 5.6 1,118
1920 569 1.5% 8.5 1,707
1921 416 1.2% 5.0 998
1922 422 2.4% 10.1 2,026
1923 565 2.1% 11.9 2,373
1924 484 2.8% 13.6 2,710
1925 520 3.2% 16.6 3,328
1926 573 3.0% 17.2 3,438
1927 518 3.6% 18.6 3,730
1928 501 4.0% 20.0 4,008
1929 535 3.8% 20.3 4,066
1930 468 4.3% 20.1 4,025
1931 382 5.0% 19.1 3,820
1932 310 6.3% 19.5 3,906
1933 334 5.5% 18.4 3,674
1934 359 5.8% 20.8 4,164
1935 372 6.4% 23.8 4,762
1936 439 6.4% 28.1 5,619
1937 446 7.1% 31.7 6,333
1938 349 8.7% 30.4 6,073
1939 395 9.6% 37.9 7,584
1940 461 9.4% 43.3 8,667
1941 514 10.7% 55.0 11,000
1942 583 11.5% 67.0 13,409
1943 590 13.5% 79.7 15,930
1944 620 16.3% 101.1 20,212
1945 578 19.0% 109.8 21,964
1946 534 21.1% 112.7 22,535
1947 631 22.1% 139.5 27,890
1948 600 23.3% 139.8 27,960
Total 17,034 7.4% 1,266.7 253,344

Catelett/Boehlje estimate

In 1979, Lowell Catlett of New Mexico State University and Michael Boehlje of Iowa State University published estimates of the impact of the new Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The study reported from 1870 to 1930 more than 1.3 billion tons of coal were mined and roughly 250,000 acres were disturbed. This is a significantly larger amount of land than is implied by the National Mining Association data shown in the table above, which shows most surface mining occurring after 1930. In the period 1930-1971, Catlett and Boehlje state that 3,357,000 acres of land were disturbed by surface mining. The authors do not provide a source for their data.[2]


Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Growth of the Bituminous Coal Mining Industry in the United States, 1900 - 1971," National Mining Association (citing U.S. Bureau of Mines), accessed October 6, 2010
  2. "Strip-mine reclamation laws and regional cost implications," Southern Journal of Agricultural Economics, July 1979.

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