A method known as “retreat mining” in coal mining is thought to be one of the most dangerous mining systems. In such a system, the roof of a mine is supported by a natural pillar of coal. When the miners have accrued all that they can from the mine, the pillars are then pulled and the mine collapses. The system is extremely profitable, but must be done with precise calculations. If not done properly, though, the mine is at increased risk of collapse while miners are working inside.
A subjective question that has been addressed many times here on greenanswers:
The Crandall Canyon mine that collapsed in Utah in August, 2007, was mined using the retreat mining technique. According to Tony Oppegard, the former top federal and Kentucky mine safety official, retreat mining is “the most dangerous type of mining there is.” Like edmccoy11 describes, the only reason this technique exists at all is because it is highly profitable.
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