What Is Strip Mining?

Strip mining involves removing the surface layers of earth, called the overburden, in rectangular strips to mine the mineral reserve underneath them. After a strip of ore is mined, another strip is prepared next to it. The waste rock from the overburden of the second strip is used to fill the first one. Typically, coal or other sedimentary rocks that lie near the earth's surface are strip mined.

As with other types of mining, strip mining involves bulldozing the trees and vegetation on top of the excavation site. The overburden is removed by drilling holes and detonating explosives within them. The waste materials are temporarily stored nearby and are used to fill in the previous strip. Normally, the gravel and filth from mining is permanently dumped on the land surrounding the mines. This dumping leads to blocked streams and rivers and affects the purity of water due to the runoff that occurs during rain. The rain also causes the waste rock to run into surrounding topsoil and bury it, preventing growth of vegetation. Filling the strips gives the benefit of reclaiming the land being mined, allowing trees to be replanted to avoid ruining the terrain. The filled land is leveled using bulldozers until made even, then topsoil is bulldozed over to create fertile ground.