Strip mining

Source: Encyclopedia of Earth
A coal strip mining operation. Photo: USGS
A coal strip mining operation. Photo: USGS

Strip mining is a type of surface mining that involves excavating earth, rock, and other material to uncover a tabular, lens-shaped, or layered mineral reserve. The mineral extracted is usually coal or other rocks of sedimentary origin. The mineral reserve is extracted after the overlying material, called overburden is removed. The excavation of the overburden is completed in rectangular blocks in plain view called pits or strips. The pits are parallel and adjacent to each other with each strip of overburden and the mineral beneath extracted sequentially. The mining process using equipment and explosives move the overburden laterally to the adjacent empty pit where the mineral has been extracted. This lateral movement is called casting or open-casting. The overburden is moved by explosives, draglines, bucketwheel excavators, stripping shovels, dozers, and other equipment. The uncovered mineral is excavated and hauled out of the pit to down-stream processing operations. Filling the adjacent empty pits with the overburden is systemic to the process and therefore insures the genesis of mined-land land reclamation, an advantage of this method of surface mining. Planning strip mining utilizes a cross-section or range diagram of the earth to be removed. Strip mining is also called open-cut mining, open-cast mining, and stripping.

Further reading

Schissler, Andrew P., “Design and Methods of Coal Mining," in The Encyclopedia of Energy, Volume 1, Cutler J. Cleveland Editor-in-Chief, Elsevier Inc., Kidlington, Oxford, pp. 485-494.

Schissler, Andrew (Lead Author); Cutler J. Cleveland (Topic Editor). 2006. "Strip mining." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [Published in the Encyclopedia of Earth October 8, 2006; Retrieved September 17, 2008]. <>




(2008). Strip mining. Retrieved from


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