The Sokolov coal basin is located around the town of Sokolov in the north-west border region between Karlovy Vary and Cheb. The geologic periods forming the earth surface shaped its look especially in the periods of Tertiary and Quaternary. The territory of the coal basin has an area exceeding by a little bit one hundred square kilometres and stretches along both banks of the Ohře River that forms its longitudinal axis. The terrain ascends to the north towards the foothills of Krušné hory, and to the south towards the slopes of the Slavkovský les.
The beginnings of a more consistent brown coal mining in the Sokolov region are dated back to the middle of the 18th century. In 1760 a mining joint-stock company, the member of which was Count Franz Wenzel Nostitz, is mentioned in documents. In the 1790’s the first Sokolov burgher Matouš Leistner began to mine for the coal. The place of mining was the settlement Ovčárna where the town cadastre can be found today. German history of Sokolov states that a hop field had to give away to coal mining for the first time in 1797. The fame of the Sokolov mining district was based on discovery of the quality coal seam Anežka which was discovered by peasants during the sinking of a well in neighbouring Dolní Rychnov. Expansion of mining and other branches of industry is connected with activities of the Sokolov region’s first modern businessman J. D. Starck, who was even ennobled for his merits in the development of the mining industry.
A real injection for development of mining activities and industry as a whole became the railway. In September 1870 an extension to the Buštěhrad railway was put into operation from Chomutov to Cheb. The improvement of sales possibilities gained by the railroad affected coal mining, and, in turn, the industrial production. The number and size of the mines in the town cadastre grew. Around the entire mining district other plants are built or modernized. The last hop field gave its place to coal mining in 1880 and the town took on its pure industrial character. Sufficiency of job opportunities attracted a significant number of Czech families from the inland and relatively strong Czech majorities started to be formed in the industrial municipalities. The town of Sokolov expanded steadily too.
Brown coal was deposited in the Sokolov basin in three irregularly developed seams with a thickness of dozens of metres and an overburden of tens even hundreds of metres. It was first extracted by underground mining, usually in the places of the highest quality of the seam. Later, despite a landscape that had a relief unfavourable for opening large-capacity open pit mines, their technology prevailed and currently coal and other minerals are extracted exclusively with open pit mining technology that guarantees high recovery and energy efficiency.
The quantity of the extracted coal and proportional extraction of overburden continuously grew and culminated in the mid-1980s. Since that time the volume of mining has decreased and recently it has settled down to a value close to the optimum sustainable level until the time of the depletion of the coal basin’s productive deposits.
The way of coal utilization also copied the needs of its largest consumers, first as the prevailing heat source, later as a raw material for production of high-quality fuels and energies; as well as a raw material for a variety of chemicals. In these tendencies a standpoint of environmental interests began to be applied gradually too, especially at the place of consumption of the mined coal and the produced fuels and energies. With growing intensity the procedures leading to the landscape regeneration following the end of coal mining and processing activities, are applied too. After a diversified historical development with many peripeteia the only entity in the Sokolov coal basin that currently manages the mining and distribution of coal and other minerals, is the Sokolovská uhelná, a.s.