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Lignite is also:






Lignite is Abundant and Accessible

Western North Dakota has over an 835-year supply of lignite that is currently accessible and economically feasible to recover. 

Lignite is more accessible than other types of coal because lignite veins are located relatively near the surface, eliminating the need for underground excavation in tunnels.  Surface mining also eliminates the risk of methane or carbon monoxide buildup, a primary safety concern in underground mining. 


Map of Lignite Reserves

Lignite mining is not totally without risk.  As lignite mines are excavated, there is some risk that the pit’s tall, sloped earthen walls could collapse after a heavy rain.  However, such incidents are extremely rare, in part because the industry has developed constant monitoring systems to alert managers when weather might be affecting mining conditions.  The most common accidents in lignite mining are associated with the maintenance and operation of the heavy equipment required to dig and haul the coal.  Injuries are rare and usually minor.

Safety is an ongoing priority for the companies that mine lignite in North Dakota.  In September 2005, North Dakota’s Freedom Mine won the “Sentinels of Safety” Award from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.  The award is a special recognition for large surface coal mines. 

The 835-year supply of lignite is based on a supply of 25 billion tons and a current production rate of 30 million tons per year. Source: Strippable Lignite Deposits of North Dakota, Edward C. Murphy, North Dakota Geological Survey, 2001.



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