Today, I have a guest blogger, Christian! He is going to explain a little about our trip to see a coal mine.
One of the most common energy sources around the world is coal. A special type of coal, lignite, is being mined in Germany to supply the western part of the country with electrical power. The open pits where lignite is found are only a drive of half an hour away from where we live and the mining company has established a number of viewpoints. We took Mother and stopped at a place called Garzweiler II which is basically a large trench moving west.
Entering the viewpoint is a little scary as there is 150 m (approximately 500 feet) air under your feet.
On the west side huge bucket wheel excavators remove the overburden on several benches until the bottom-most excavator remove the coal.
On the east side stackers deposit the overburden in several benches until the natural surface level is back.
The dirt is moved from one side to the other side by a complex conveyor belt system. The intersection of the conveyors can be seen in this picture, as there is a lot of water-spray to keep the dust down.
To get an idea of the quantities of dirt being moved: Each excavator can move 240,000 tons per day. That is more than the weight of 1,000 Statues of Liberty in NYC. Each of the buckets that can be seen in the picture (removed for refurbishment) can accommodate a small car.