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Coal Mining in Great Britain

    Naturevolume 134pages731732 (1934) | Download Citation



    SIR RICHARD REDMAYNE delivered the presidential address to the Institution of Civil Engineers at the opening meeting of the new session on November 6. Sir Richard has been for many years associated with coal mining in Great Britain, and it was appropriate that he should discuss aspects of the industry. In tracing its development, he pointed out that the growth of the railway and the application of steam to shipping gave a great impetus to the coal trade, the Output in 1845 being three times that of 1800. Great progress has been made during the past fifty years in the technique of coal mining, and in many collieries the only manual labour now used in the actual coal-getting is shovelling the machine-cut coal at the face on to a band- or jig-conveyor. In 1900, 1-47 per cent of the coal raised in Great Britain, and 24-9 per cent of that raised in the United States, was machine-mined; in 1932 the figures were 38 and 68-3 per cent respectively. Natural conditions in the United States, however, are better suited than those of many British coal fields to this mode of working. The methods of supporting the roofs and sides of underground roads are now undergoing considerable change; of the 20,000 miles of main roadways in coal mines of Great Britain, 1,800 miles are supported by steel arches, and there are in addition about 900,000 steel props used in and about the workings. The ultimate possible demand for steel supports in Great Britain is 370,000 tons a year, a quantity which would provide employment for at least 10,000 workers. Turning to the subject of accidents, Sir Richard said that, of the larger coal-producing countries, the most favourable figures are shown by France with a death-rate of 1-0 in a thousand; other figures are 1-1 for Great Britain and Belgium, and 4-8 (bituminous coal) and 3-9 (anthracite) for the United States. The future of the coal trade is dependent, in Sir Richard's view, on increased scientific research and the dis covery of new uses for coal.

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