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​There are two types of coal mines, surface and underground, currently producing coal in Colorado.

A surface mine removes coal from excavated surface pits. The mining sequence includes vegetation removal, topsoil removal and storage, overburden removal, and coal extraction. After coal is removed, open pits are backfilled and regraded to approximate original contour, topsoil is replaced, and vegetation reestablished.
 
​An underground coal mine removes coal using mining equipment below the earth’s surface. To prepare for mining, a portal faceup is constructed. Topsoil from the faceup area is removed and stored for replacement when mining is completed. An entrance tunnel is then excavated to the level of the coal seam, where coal is removed with a continuous miner or longwall miner. After coal is removed, the entrance to the mine is sealed and regraded to approximate original contour, topsoil is replaced, and vegetation reestablished.​​​

​​This photo shows the stages of mining and reclamation at the New Horizon Mine. From left to right: undisturbed land, disturbed lands where topsoil has been salvaged, open pit coal removal, spoil ridges, regraded spoil, replaced topsoil, revegetation after one growing season, historic revegetation.​

Twenty Mile Long Wall
This photo shows the longwall miner underground at the Foidel Creek Mine. Photo courtesy of Twentymile Coal Company.​