strip coal mining in eastern kentucky

Strip mining is the process through which a seam of coal is exposed through removal of overlaying earth and rock. Once exposed the coal is removed by bulldozers and conveyors and trucked to a coal preparation plant where it is screened, crushed and washed. Over 50 million tons of coal is surface mined In Eastern Kentucky each year. In many cases the mountain tops are literally removed and the overlaying earth is used to fill in the valleys creating some of the only flat land in the region. This photo essay documents an active strip coal mine and preparation plant in Irishman and Sassafras Kentucky.