If domestic coal production is to increase in response to the growing energy demands of the U.S., surface mining must assume a fundamental role. However, in order to increase surface mine productivity, new technology must be developed to: 1) improve existing overburden handling, coal extraction and reclamation practices, 2) accelerate the mine planning and development process necessary to bring new operations on line, 3) minimize the impact of mining on land and water resources, and 4) facilitate compliance with local and federal environmental quality and safety standards.