Most likely it is simple displacement. One of the many harmful effects of surface mining is that it renders that landscape unrecognizable. Another process that is destructive to the soil is Acid Rock Damage. This happens when pyrite (common near coal veins) comes into contact with air and water producing sulfuric acid that penetrates into nearby soil and water.
The simple task of removing layer after layer of the earth’s surface not only displaces or destroys all vegetation and massive amounts of land, but the machinery needed to move it produces enormous amounts of dust, further displacing the soil near a strip mine.
Overburden is surface material that must be cleared in order to reach the material that is being mined.
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