Locating Coal and Mining Challenges

Where coal is found:

Lignite Coal Map
US Coal Deposits: North Dakota's supply of lignite coal is enough to last more than 800 years. Map courtesy of Lignite Energy Council.
  • Western North Dakota contains about 351 billion (351,000,000,000) tons of lignite.
  • The largest lignite mines are in Mercer, McLean, and Oliver counties, near Beulah, Underwood, and Center.
  • The Freedom Mine near Beulah is the largest lignite mine in the world.


Challenges of coal production:

Photo of before view. Photo of site after reclamation.
  • Surface mining temporarily changes the landscape.
  • After the coal has been removed, the mined area needs to be reclaimed.Reclamation (rek-la-MAY-shun) is the process of restoring land after the coal has been removed.
    • The rocks and dirt are returned to the area, the topsoil and subsoil are replaced, and the area is replanted.
      • Mining companies must prove that the reclaimed land is as good as or better than it was before coal was removed.
      • It costs mining companies from $30,000 to $60,000 to reclaim one acreAn acre (AY-ker) is an area of land about the size of a football field. of land.
      • Between 1,500 and 2,000 acres of land are disturbed and reclaimed in North Dakota each year.