What’s it like working in a Coal Mine

Amit Kuma – Quora – says:

“I am an Undergraduate student of Mining Engineering and I can tell for sure that most of the people have this misconception that Coal mines are always underground and it looks something like:

or this

But truth is that with the advancement of technology, machinery and rock mechanics, nowadays, Coal mines are mostly Open -Pit Type (Surface mines). But Underground coal mines also exist in large numbers but due to heavy mechanisation, the method of working and working conditions have changed extremely.

An surface coal mine:

Underground mines too now have heavy mechanization, good working conditions like safety, temperature, ventilation etc.

“Many people ask if I have to crawl around all day long – nope! I drive an F-150 underground. Speed limit is 25, but I’ve never gotten pulled over down there (all the trucks have governor chips set to 25). Some mines in the Appa-latch-in Mountains are only 4 ft. high, but I’ve never worked there. The walls are white with “rock dust”, this prevents coal dust from being breathed in and coal dust is also combustable – you don’t want it floating around.”

– A miner from a well mecanised mine.

So, the conclusion is that in new and modernized mines the working conditions are upto mark. Even if the work is somewhat dangerous and boring but it is doable.

But still their exist some old mines where you’ll find that it is very hard to work for the miners as well as the engineers and geologists etc. In these mines, every thing is handled by human labour hence making it more difficult.

“The actual working area is like a crawl space in a house. The average height is about 40 inches. So you’re going to crawl.

When you’re bent, you can’t use your legs as much. You have to rely on your arms and back. To pick up 25 pounds standing upright is easy for most people. When you’re bent over on your knees, it becomes much harder.

The average coal miner works 60 hours a week. That’s standard. Most coal miners work 10-hour shifts, 6 days a week.

Everything is intensified in the mines. You’re in a foreign atmosphere. Deep underground the air is different. The oxygen goes down. The temperature on average is in the 50s, but you still sweat an enormous amount when you start laboring.“ – Alan Bates, working in the coal mines of Letcher County, Kentucky.

But with more mechanisation we hope these mines will also improve in coming times.

And it also depends on the type of job. If you are miner, it’ll be pretty hard compared to an machine/haulage truck operator which in turn is inferior to the Engineers.

“Mining engineering pays at about the same level as chemical engineering, computer science, and petroleum engineering. I started at $70k and moved up from there. The hours are very long though – I start at 6AM and get off at 5PM.”

Some more technologies which makes working easier in mines are:

Remote controlled machines

No Pickaxes any more


Improved ventilation technique

But as it is said that:

And when will work in coal you hands will surely get dirty.

And moreover, the girls now a days, are taking up mining jobs. So, it will be more fun than ever. Just j0king ;)”

Hope you enjoyed the read! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

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