A Characterization and Determination of the Coal Reserves and Resources of Southwest Virginia
Coal mining and timber are the two primary industries supporting the people of Southwest Virginia. Coal mining has occurred for more than 100 years, but production has dropped since reaching a peak in 1990. In order to properly plan with remaining coal production a study was conducted to characterize and estimate coal resources. Seam thickness was found to be the parameter which most influenced resource levels. An economic model was developed to determine which portion of the reserves could economically be extracted. It was found that 3.95 billion tons, or 14% of the remaining resource, is economic under current mining conditions. More than 60% of these reserves, however, are in deep seams which require shafts to be constructed prior to initiation of mining.