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Coal Mining In China .docx

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Coal Mining In China And Its Related Environmental Affects









Plants that are buried for million number of years forms fossil fuel known as coal. The underground plants are subjected to high pressure and temperature conditions transforming the plant material both chemically and physically forming coal. Coal contains the energy that the plant absorbed from the sun for million years. When coal is burned, it releases this energy that is used to heat water to generate steam that drive the turbine to generate electricity. China is the world largest coal producer and consumer in the 21st century. For instance, an estimated 3.24 billion toneswas produced in the year 2010. It accounted nearly half of the world total. It is the second largest coal exporter in the world. The largest open pit coal mine in China is located in the Inner Mongolia, and Shenhua group operates it. There are various methods of coal mining that includes modern surface mining, contour mining, strip mining and underground mining. They are a lot of safety concerns in coal mining. Scores of deaths have been recorded as a result of the mining disaster. For instance about 100,000 miners succumbed to coal mining disaster in the 20th century in the United States of America (Wang et al., 2011). Underground miners suffer from gas poisoning and explosion and roof collapse. Coal mining has adverse environmental effects. It destroys the vegetation cover and consequently causes soil erosion. It destroys habitat and thus displacing the wildlife. The processes of mining, coal consumption, disaster on coal mining and environmental impacts are discussed here below.

They are specialized categories coal mining equipment. These include mining crusher, placer mining equipment, heavy mining and underground mining equipment. Coal mining equipment is adapted to many environmental factors including flooding, limited ground movement and narrow spaces. Raw materials from underground should be handled with a lot of care and caution. The material must be maintained by high professionals who are familiar with the machinery. The machinery has evolved through years of mining. A lot of refurbishing and fabrication is necessary to ensure that the machinery is on par with the current standards of coal mining. A lot of consideration has been done to ensure the safety of the workers is highly upheld (Chen & Xu, 2010).

Methods of coal mining are classified into the surface and underground mining. Surface mining involves the following activities; the clearing of the vegetation and shrubs from the ground. The drilling of the strata that cover the coal seam that appears on the ground surface. And removal of all the material above the coal seam. Cleaning the top of the seam dividing the coal seam by blasting and drilling, carrying the coal in the haulage conveyance (Beitler et al., 2013). The coal is the transported in the coal plant. The land that has been affected by the mining is restored back to normal.

Methods of surface mining include contour strip mining. It is practiced in hilly terrain where the coal seam appears outcropped. The removal of the material above the coal seam is removed. The outcrop is then stripped to remove the coal. The restoration process of the land follows. Area strip mining it is applied where the terrain is flat. The other method is underground mining. The working environment is completely covered by the geological medium that consist of the coal seam that have under and overlying strata. It involves long wall, pillar and room mining methods (Beitler et al., 2013). 

The long wall method is the simplest and involves blocking a coal bed out into a panel. The panel measures 800 feet in width, 7000 feet in length and about to 7 feet in height. Excavating passageways are found around its perimeter. Numerous pillars are left intact to support the overlying strata. The area that has already been mined is allowed to collapse causing subsidizing of some surface. This process of long wall mining is a continuous operation that involves roof support that has self-advanced hydraulic. The shearing machine under the roof support which is armored with conveyor machine that appear parallel to the coal surface. The shearing machine rides into the conveyor as it cuts the coal and spilling it to the conveyor for transport to the main processing plant. The long wall coal mining technique is one of the most efficient methods. It has a productivity that is higher than the room and pillar mining. It requires fewer workers and thus has high productivity since it is a continuous operation (Beitler et al., 2013).  

The consumption of coal may be classified into early uses and modern consumption. Coal is among the earliest source energy. The coal mined and used to drive locomotives. Coal energy powered the earliest engines. Coal, in Britain, used coal to form Bronze metal, which used in the industries. The coal used to drive water mills for heating water to produce steam use to drive a steam engine to drive locomotive(Beitle, 2013).

In modern times, coal is still an important mineral highly mined due to its high value for users in diversified ways such as; coal used as fuel in electricity generation, Global warming, clean coal technology, among other.  Coal combustion produces electricity through combustion in furnace connected to a boiler. The water in furnace heats water in a boiler to convert it into the steam used to turn turbines, which finally turns the generator to generate electricity. Electricity is the leading source of power for the industries for both lighting and driving machines.  The use of coal to generate electricity offers alternative source, to hydropower. Hydropower affected by low water volumes of water flows, leading to low volumes of generation. Integrated gasification combined cycle improves the efficiency of electric generation. Coal is gasified to produce a type of a gas known as syngas; the gas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas.  The gas is often to turn turbines to generate electricity.

Coal used in industrial processes, in the production of a chemical in industries. Most industrial combines coal to produce important chemicals such as paints and drugs. The coal is not expensive hence affordable to most families making an important source of domestic fuel. Coal is readily available in many places in the world naturally form over a long period.Coal was the commodity of trade and over a long time was exchanged for trade.  Countries such as the United States where there are low quantities deposit import from other countries for electricity. It makes coal an important commodity of trade.

There are many challenges associated with coal mining such as collapsing of mining tunnels burning the miners alive. The transportation of coal is also a challenge due to its bulkiness. The bulkiness makes transport of coal a big challenge and expensive. Large quantities of coal usually give low yield making coal very expensive especially when large quantities required for energy production.The high pollutants effects of coal make cause’ health effects on human beings. It estimates that coal cause death of about 24,000 in the United States including lung cancer (Haibin, 2013). The WHO classified coal as dirty fuel and encourage the use of alternative sources of energy. It causes black lung disease to miners. The coal related to running away healthy effects.The coal dust affects lungs, respiratory system, nerves and heart systems. Research by American energy center shows that a coal mine is about ten times more likely to dies because of one of these diseases than a normal person is.  The coal mining also contributes to disease such strokes; mercury poisoning reduced intelligence and heart diseases. The disease increases the cost of living as one has to live with medication or the death of the breadwinner.Coal generate thousands of the wastes every year in a form of fly ash, sledge bottom ash that requires a high cost to maintain to reduce its impacts on the health of individuals.

 Improved coal mining technology seeks to address much danger associated with coal mining.  In the coal, mining health and safety emphasized. The effect of coal gases such as methane has reduced sufficiently. The use of underground mines replaced with constructed tunnels to reduce collision accidents.Some countries are considering a ban on coal mining to reduce the challenges associated with it. The WHO is emphasizing on the use of green energy to by green power such as electricity, the wind among others that do not produce air pollution.

China is gifted with in rich water resources but relatively poor regarding water resources per capita (Hubacek, Guan et al., 2009). China’s Demand for coal is out spacing its freshwater supply, and the coal is the largest consumer of the fresh water that it is used for extraction and processing. But, water resources are plentiful in the south and the east but insufficient in the north and the west where they are needed most for the mining activities. Coal mining affects the water situation by causing a drop in the water table. Also, Mining actions pollute the water moreover to changing the direction of water causes. Large-scale mechanized coal mining in those areas interrupts overload strata that bear surface water while threatening the safety and also the production of mining activities. Also, mine acidic discharge is formed after pyrite counters through air and water forming sulfuric acid and melted iron. The acid overflow dissolves heavy metals such as copper, lead and mercury that ends up in the ground and also surface water.

Pollution of water can cause some problems for human life. Though most water used for daily life and also drinking is from outside this area, the crop that are cultivated in the terraces is usually irrigated using the surface or the underground that has polluted by coal mine waste water, leading to crops and also vegetables being polluted. Consuming the polluted crops and the vegetables is harmful to the local people.

Coal fires originate at the interface of the coal seams and atmosphere, both by natural and also man-induced activities. The warm and also dry condition in the area provides a favorable circumstance that leads to the coal formation and other conditions which favor coal fires are also the presence of faults, joints and fissures, which allow the supply of oxygen to the coal seams to transport of gases to the surface. The direct results of coal fires are the formation of burnt rocks which leads to vegetation-withering and also the landscape degradation. Coals also fire trigger rock fall that usually takes place under scraps, under an influence of coal fires, rock mass becomes more disintegrated which is prone to fall of scraps areas. Due to coal fires, a large volume of harmful gases such as H2S, SO2 and CO are delivered into the air, which causes air pollution in the area. Also, water pollution can also be induced by land deterioration and air pollution that leads to acidic rain.

With the expansion of opencast coal mining, a large volume of waste has been produced, and many areas occupied as mine dump that from land pollution. Mine dumps are unrecognizable in the area but they are very dangerous, and their formation is ascribed to the removal of overburden from the above coals seams by opencast mining. With a development of coal mining, a lot of dumps has continued to be produced. Due to nature of the waste, the mine dump area is hard to be planted before some treatments are made. The direct consequences of tipping mine waste are land deterioration and also despoil, and a relation of the dispelled land are becoming urgent problems for the local people.

The widespread mine dumps are the probable sources of air pollution and water pollution, during rainy seasons, it is common to find coal dust in polluted water both in river channels and on the ground that are mostly related to mine dumps.

Mining activities causes emissions of sulfur dioxide, methane, and other oxides of nitrogen, which are the major contributors to the global warming. Since the surface mining operations involves drilling, blasting, and movement of heavy earth machinery that leads to acid mine drainage (AMD). AMD occurs when coal beds are surrounding strata and disrupted by mining activities, exposing sulfides to air and water. The burning of medium to high-sulphur coal leads to the formation of sulphur oxides and acid rains.  Due to increased coal use in China there are large emissions of the sulphur oxide gas. The acid rains from the sulphur oxide cause damages to crops, and also the methane gas contributes to greenhouse effects. Impulsive combustion of the coal gangue also contributes to the growing effect of air pollution.

Air pollution has the most serious effect the local people. Unlike other environmental issues that can be avoided by analyzing their formation and characteristics, is inhaled every day by local people. The pollution of air can lead to lowering of ability on the epidemic prevention and also the increase of catching diseases on the respiratory tracts, black lung and also TB. The rate of catching this disease is high in this area than the people living in uncontaminated areas.

Degradation of land outcomes from subsidence and fissures, where subsidence is the vertical movement of the earth surface due to underground extraction. Most subsidence at areas in this area are related to the underground coal mining, and their characteristics are largely dependent on overburden thickness, overburden strength, overburden structure, the size of coal mined area and the volume of coal mined. Except for the underground coal mining, underground coal fires can result in surface subsidence. Due to the subsidence and fissure, earth surface is greatly disrupted, and the soil texture is changed which result in the reduction of the water capacity of the soil. With occurrence of subsidence and fissure, land desertification or degradation appear, and the poor land cover is observed in many subsidence areas. Rock fall as a result of mining, which involves falls movement of materials away from the steep slopes such as cliffs. Rock falls happen widely in China.It can be as a result of coal mining, coal fire that causes destruction in land covers.

Rock often falls directly destroys the original cover of land. Due to limited rainfall in this area, vegetation is more difficult to recover after being destroyed. Thus, a low coverage of vegetation is commonly observed in rock fall-prone area. Like the land subsidence and fissure, rock falls contribute to the land degradation. Debris slides occurred at dump area are prone to initiate debris flow during rainstorms seasons, which is highly dangerous for the local people due to high velocity and unpredictability. Some of which results to claiming of lives. Vegetation effect where due to environmental pollution, plants growing in the areas where coal mining occurs have been seriously influenced.

Mining produces large quantities of waste that contain gauge, sludge, fly-ash, coal mine drainage and coal-bed methane. Improperly gauge can cause landslides, spontaneous burning of the toxic substances, acid rain formation and harmful gases (Haibin, 2010).Waste from underground mining comprises of coarse discard that is produced by the washing process. They cause soil erosion, dust pollution driven by the wind, air pollution, spontaneous combustion, visual and landscape influences and land usage restrictions. The negative impact caused by mining waste can have lasting environmental and social, economic penalties and be extremely hard and costly to address (Bell, 2001)

In coal mining project in China, there is the serious problem of soil erosion and sediment eroding leading to degrading of surface water quality that is a serious problem. The major sources of erosion / sediment loading at the mining sites are as a result of open pit areas, heap and also dumb leaches. This hauls the accessibility of roads in the area. The exposed materials from the mining operations contribute sediments with chemical pollutants, principally heavy metals. The sediments deposited in layers in floods plains or the terrestrial ecosystems can produce many impact associated with surface waters, earthly ecosystem and underground water.

China immerse economic growth of the economy has resulted to increase in the requirement of energy, larger pollution emissions and also greater coal combustion. Coal is the leading primary source of energy in the country. Hence, its environmental problems are more among the most severe of the major country that produces coal. Coal mining has caused the environmental problem such as water pollution, air pollution, coal fires, land degradation, land pollution and also waste debris on the surface of the coal mining areas. China opts to consider using electricity in a production of coal; this will greatly reduce the negative environmental effects of the coal production. Also other sources of energy should be considered to feed the rising demand for the electric power.

 

                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Beitler, S., Holm, M., Arndt, T., Mozar, A., Junker, M., & Bohn, C. (2013). State of the art in underground coal mining automation and introduction of a new shield-data-based horizon control approach. International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference: SGEM:    Surveying Geology & mining Ecology Management, 1, 715.

Bell, F. G., S. E. T. Bullock, et al. (2001). "Environmental impacts associated with an abandoned mine in the Witbank Coalfield, South Africa." International Journal of Coal Geology45(2–3): 195-216.

Chen, W., & Xu, R. (2010). Clean coal technology development in China. Energy policy, 38(5),   2123-2130.

Haibin, L. and L. Zhenling (2010). "Recycling utilization patterns of coal mining waste inChina." Resources, Conservation and Recycling 54(12): 1331-1340. 

Hustrulid, W. A. (1982). Underground mining methods handbook.

Liu, G., Zhang, H., Gao, L., Zheng, L., & Peng, Z. (2004). Petrological and mineralogical characterizations and chemical composition of coal ashes from power plants in Yanzhoumining district, China. Fuel processing technology, 85(15), 1635-1646.

Tiwary, R. K. (2001). Environmental impact of coal mining on water regime and its management. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 132(1-2), 185-199.

Wang, J., Dong, Y., Wu, J., Mu, R., & Jiang, H. (2011). Coal production forecast and low carbon policies in China. Energy Policy, 39(10), 5970-5979.

 

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