Is strip mining necessary?
Strip mining is the most economic and safest way to extract coal that is shallowly buried and intended for power generation.
Strip mining is relatively low-cost, so long as coal seams are not too deeply buried. Deeper seams are sometimes mined by underground mines, but the cost tends to go up and mine safety tends to go down.
In many countries, companies who strip mine are required to reclaim the land as they go, essentially filling in the pits and re-plant trees. Mountain top removal in the eastern U.S, is very controversial as mine reclamation is not always done and huge local environmental disturbances remain for decades.
Many countries in the world, including Canada and the U.S., have recently committed to phasing out the use of coal for power generation to help combat climate change, so its likely that most strip mines will eventually disappear in North America over the next 30 years or so.