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There are three coal-bearing areas of Virginia: the Richmond and Farmville Triassic basins in the Piedmont
province, the Valley coalfields in the Valley and Ridge province, and the Southwest Virginia coalfield in the Appalachian Plateau province. All present production and most coal resources are within the Southwest field. Coal production in 1978 was 32,004,341 short tons of which 31% was by surface mining methods.
The Division of Mineral Resources is currently studying the geology of all of Virginia's coalfields, especially the Southwest field. For the past several years the Division has collected coal samples from the Southwest field to be analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Bureau of Mines, with the results being entered into the National Coal Resources Data System. Mapping at a 1:24,000 scale is continuing on several quadrangles in the Southwest Virginia field and in parts of the Valley coalfields. The Division is compiling geologic data related to the methane potential of unminable coal beds, in cooperation with the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech.
A mine inventory for all active coal mines in Virginia has been completed. This information will be used, along with other information gathered by the Division, to revise the coal resource estimates for Wise, Lee, Dickenson, and Scott Counties. The U.S. Geological Survey will concurrently revise the resource estimates for Buchanan, Tazewell, and Russell Counties.
Future work by the Division will include studies of mine-roof stability, hydrology, and geochemistry in the Southwest Virginia coalfield. In addition, we anticipate new mapping at 1:50,000 and 1:24,000 scales. Work is also planned in continuing existing sampling and mine inventory programs.
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