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History of Coal Mining

History of Coal Mining

Coal mining is a technology that dates backs thousands of years ago, but it gained prominent during the time of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th, as well as the 20th century.

During the Industrial Revolution, coal mining became the main source of energy in industries and for transportation- With the extensive development of industries during the Industrial Revolution, coal mining became rampant and ever more important. While oil and gas became alternative sources of energy later in the 19e century onward, coal is still extensively even today (Hodge, 2A). For this reason, it is important to explore the history of coal mining in regards to its initial development, its extensive use in steam engines, a source of domestic fuel, and how it was used to generate electricity.The earliest history of coal mining was done on small-scale that occurred by removing the coal lying on or close to the surface. Archaeological evidence shows that around 3490 BC surface coal mining for domestic use was done in China (Cleveland, 2009,1,2, i). Evidence also shows that the earliest known coal mining in the Americans was conducted by the Aztecs who often burned it and into jewelry. Further, in Roman Britain coal mining was done around 2nd AD where the Romans explored the coalfields, which was used locally and later traded along the North Sea (I{odge,2A). When the Romans departed from Britain around AD 410, there is no documentation of coal mining until the 12m century. Around 1228,therc is record of coal being sold to London and in most of l4th century, coal became rampant in Britain for household use.

Sir George Bruce started the frst coal mine in 1575 that allowed coal to be retrieved from a “moat pif’ (llodge,2013).In the 17th century, coal mining technology was advanced to include techniques such as test boring that help identify appropriate deposits while 2 chain pumps were used to drain the collieries. However, at this time, most of the coal was used for household purposes.

Domestic Fuel

Before the Industrial Revolution, most also was used for domestic fuel. Coal was especially used for heating buildings or keeping the house or caves wafins. According to Speight (201 5, 4, 46,2). coal was used by Hopi Indians or the modem-day southwestern U.S. for cooking, heating their household, and even for ceremonial cambers dating back to the 12th century. They acquired most of the coal by scraping it from the surface or picking it from the ground. Further, in 13th century, coal was also used in China for domestic purposes to providing heat or heating up the building to protect from the cold (Cleveland,2009). In this way, the first uses of coal was mainly for domestic purposes.

However, the Industrial Revolution, which started in Britain in the 18th and 19th century and went on to spread to Europe, North America, as well as Japan largely depended on the availability of coal.
The invention of the steam engine in l712 and more advanced in 1804 led to the increase in the demand for coal (Nuvolari, Verspagen & Vcn Trurzelmaa,711)” Steam power required a lot of hot steam that came from boiling water that allowed the pistons to move back and forth.

These pistons would then help power machines or turn wheels. In order to create the steam, the steam engines had to make use of water that was heated by burning coal (N:rv*lari, Verspagen & Yon Tunzel:na:rn” 2fi1i). Before the development of steam engine, many factories used water, horse, wind, or manpower, which made them inflexible. The development of steam engine brought the realization that coal was the most efficient way of boiling the water. This increased the amount of coal mined because it was extensively required to run factories, locomotives, trains, and steamboats.

Major Roles Played by Coal Mining

Coal mining also played a significant role during the Industrial Revolution in generating electricity. The 1880s marked the first time when coal was used for producing electricity for using in homes and factories (Speight, 2812,5,13, 10). Coal helped generate the steam that was required for driving generators that in turn produced electricity. This allowed electricity to become available not only in factories but also in homes. Use of electricity because of ease of availability of coal also expanded from the urban areas to the rural areas allowing many people to begin using electricity for various purposes around the home (Speight, zUn).In this way, coal mining played a significant role in the development of electricity on a large scale. This historical invention is still used today in generation of electricity in counkies such as the United States, Canada, Japan, and many others.


The development of coal mining occurred thousands of years ago but it became more dominant during the Industrial Revolution. However, before the industrial revolution, coal was used by various communities such as native Indians and Chinese for domestic purposes. During
the Industrial Revolution, coal mining become extensive and the main source of power for factories, locomotives, trains, and all sorts of power driven activities. Further, the widespread use of coal helped reveal its potential in the production of electricity.

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