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|INRTODUCTION Annual coal production rose to over 1.03 billion st (931 Mt) in 1990. At the same time the number of mines producing this increased tonnage has decreased over 60% in a 30-year period, from 9230 mines in 1960.1 The great increase in production made possible through continued mechanization requires greatly improved loading facilities just to get coal away from the mine. Also the trend to combine production from more than one mine and cleaning it in a single preparation plant continues. A recent census of US coal preparation plants indicated that 310 plants were in operation.2 In addition to increased loading capacity, storage and blending facilities are more necessary both at the producer and user end. In this climate of rapidly changing technology, any written account is faced with the possibility of obsolescence before its appearance. Thus, this chapter seeks to define the common and current practice in coal loading and storage facilities with the full knowledge that this practice is an ever-moving target. FUNDAMENTALS OF COAL STORAGE Storage of coal is becoming an increasingly important part of coal handling systems at mines, particularly since the advent of the unit-train concept in transportation. In order to take advantage of reduced transportation rates on trainload shipments of coal offered by unit-train movement, operators have found that storage is an economic necessity. In unit-train practice, large predetermined quantities must be loaded in relatively short periods of time, as opposed to conventional practice where coal is loaded at a speed dependent on the production capacity of the mine and/or the cleaning capacity of the preparation plant. Clean coal storage is generally practiced in order to accomplish one, or a combination, of the following objectives: 1. To load out promptly and economically. 2. To facilitate blending in order to even out chemical and physical inconsistencies and to prepare desired products or to attain maximum product uniformity. 3. To store certain sizes whose prices and market demand fluctuate with seasons and to permit shipping in good weather. Coal storage, then, is necessary and desirable, both from production and utilization standpoints. There are, however, several undesirable aspects attendant to the storage of coal, the most important of which are oxidation and spontaneous combustion, changes in properties which may affect utilization of the coal, degradation of coal due to rehandling, and the added cost of handling and storage facilities.|