Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content and since the 1880s, has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for the extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United Kingdom and South Africa, a coal mine and its structures are a colliery, a coal mine is a 'pit', and the above-ground structures are a 'pit head'. In Australia, "colliery" generally refers to an underground coal mine.
Coal mining has had many developments over the recent years, from the early days of men tunneling, digging, and manually extracting the coal on carts to large open cut and longwall mines. Mining at this scale requires the use of draglines, trucks, conveyors, hydraulic jacks, and shearers.