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Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations

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Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations requiring operators of surface mines to pay for the reclamation of mined-out land. Since then, reclamation technology has not improved. Yet, the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced, less than half what it cost to reclaim surface mines in the years immediately after the regulations took effect.

Which of the following, if true, most helps to account for the drop in reclamation costs described?

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.

B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.

C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.

D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.

E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Fact: 20 years ago a regulation started.
Fact: tech not improved since then.
Fact: cost is halved.

Ask for explanation.


A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.
Talk about cost of coal mines, not reclamatin of coal mines, irrelevant.

B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
Talks about use of coal. Irrelevant.

C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.
This explains the drop in average cost. The reason is high cost area do not get to be used any more.

D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.
Talks about coal costs. Irrelevant.

E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.
Do not explain why the reclaimation cost would decrease when more surface mines are used.

C
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations requiring operators of surface mines to pay for the reclamation of mined-out land. Since then, reclamation technology has not improved. Yet, the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced, less than half what it cost to reclaim surface mines in the years immediately after the regulations took effect.

Which of the following, if true, most helps to account for the drop in reclamation costs described?

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.
B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.
D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.
E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Zatmah wrote:
Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations requiring operators of surface mines to pay for the reclamation of mined-out land. Since then, reclamation technology has not improved. Yet, the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced, less than half what it cost to reclaim surface mines in the years immediately after the regulations took effect.

Which of the following, if true, most helps to account for the drop in reclamation costs described?

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.
B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.
D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.
E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.


The question is very simple if you understand exactly what reclamation costs are. Once some land is mined out, it needs work to be put back to some use say cultivation. That work is expensive and operators need to pay the govt for reclamation. When will the average reclamation cost go down? When technology gets better and it costs less to reclaim everywhere. Or when areas with high reclamation costs are not mined.

Option (C) tells you that mining in a particularly high reclamation cost area has stopped. This will decrease average reclamation cost (though the reclamation cost of other areas might still be the same)

None of the other options are relevant. In option (B), even if use of coal has declined and less coal is being mined today, it doesn't change the reclamation cost. Once a place is mined out, it will take the same amount of money to reclaim it.

Answer (C)
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Hello, the OA should be C, here is my reasoning.

In this question, we can assume there are two kinds of mining methods, one is surface mining which needs to pay and the other is underground mining which needs not to pay.
Then we compare the two mining periods. We can assume...

1:THe years immediately after the regulation took effect

The total cost is $400, and the total tons of coal including surface and underground are 2 tons. So, we get the average cost $200 per ton.

2: Today
The total cost is still 400, because surface mining is ceased. However, the total tons of coal are still increasing. We can assume 4 tons of coal . Then, the average cost will be $100 per ton.

Therefore, the OA is C.

How do you think? Am I right?

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Nice question. I picked D and got it wrong. But after review, C is the best.
This is resolve the paradox, so we don't have conclusion here, just fact.
Fac1: 20 years ago, there was a regulations requiring operators to pay for the reclamation.
Fac 2: Reclamation technology has not improve
Fac 3: But the AVERAGE reclamation cost today is 1/2 compared to that of 20 years ago.

Why: Key word here is AVERAGE reclamation cost (ARC). ARC is calculated from reclamation cost in Balzania, and reclamation costs from other areas. ARC will reduce, if operators move from high cost areas to lower cost areas. It means operators moved out Balzania to areas that have lower reclamation cost. That is C.


anish123ster wrote:
n y not B..???


B is out because it talks about the reduction of quantity (Q), but average cost couldn't decrease if cost/ton - Price (P) - did not decrease.
To be more clear, let try the equation.

Average cost = [Q1xP1 + Q2xP2 + ...........+ QnxPn] / [Q1 + Q2 +.....+ Qn]
Q1 = quantity in area 1; P1 = reclamation cost/ton in area 1
Q2 = quantity in area 2; P2 = reclamation cost/ton in area 2

B says [Q1 + Q2 +.....+ Qn] reduced, it means only the denominator decreased, but it doesn't say the numerator also decreased.
What if Q decreased, but P increased! Average cost will not decrease.

I hope it helps.

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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I think C is better coz....

A - Not comparing cost in Balzania and other countries;
B - it is related to demand but not cost;
D - Not comparing surface and underground mine;

C and E left

For E, larger % from surface mine, as we donno the change in absolute total cost and total quantity, may or may not reduce the cost per ton

But for C, if we remove the higher cost per ton from the portfolio, the average cost per tone will drop

So C is the answer.

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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I don't see the reasons behind why "B" is correct. Could you please explain.

I'll go with C on this one.

Why I think B is wrong:
We are talking about X = [$cost/1ton], Lets assume that they were mining 20 mines before (hence need to fix 20 of them). Because the consumption came down, say they need to mine only 10 now (hence they need to fix only 10). - So, X remains the same, isn't it?
The above assumes, that all mines produce the same amt of coal on an average. Hence, I don't see why X goes down.

Why I think E is wrong:
This one talks about "percentage" and should be very careful. You could get more percentage by not changing anything with surface-mining from 20 yrs ago and just taking down the production from underground mines. Hence, this does not give any information about surface mines.

I'm curious to know what the OA is.
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Zatmah wrote:
Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations requiring operators of surface mines to pay for the reclamation of mined-out land. Since then, reclamation technology has not improved. Yet, the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced, less than half what it cost to reclaim surface mines in the years immediately after the regulations took effect.

Which of the following, if true, most helps to account for the drop in reclamation costs described?

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.
B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.
D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.
E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.

Dear Zatmah,
I'm happy to help with this. :-)

Something changed --- not the technology itself, but something else --- and this change resulted in a drop in the cost of reclamation projects. We need some kind of change over the past twenty years that could account for this change.

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.
This is about something that continues, so it cannot explain a change over the past twenty years. This is incorrect.

B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
Well, the total amount of coal is not relevant, because the cost is "per ton of coal." It's a ratio (cost of reclamation)/(ton of coal), so even if the total amount of coal goes down, it's not at all clear that the cost of individual reclamation project would change. This is incorrect.

C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.
Twenty years ago, mining in the mountain forests, lots of expensive reclamation projects. Now, fewer of those mining projects, so more projects with, on average, lower reclamation costs. That would lower the average cost in 20 years. This is a promising answer choice.

D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.
This is about the cost of doing the mining, which doesn't necessarily have any connection to the cost of the reclamation. This is incorrect.

E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.
First of all, more are from surface mines ... as opposed to ....??? underground mines?? Let's assume that is the implicit comparison. How does the cost of reclaiming surface mines compare to the cost of reclaiming underground mines? I have no earthy clue. We are not supposed to be experts at mining here, so we have no idea how these costs would compare and whether this factoid is relevant to the argument at all. This is not correct.

The only viable answer is (C).

You may find this blog relevant:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-cr-paradox-questions/

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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arkle wrote:
I ended up choosing B. Here is my reasoning -

(B) In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.

Less coal is used as a fuel (leads to)--> Less mining is happening --> Less land is getting dug up --> Less reclamation cost.



This is correct but not complete. Less land getting dug up implies less reclamation cost the the miner has to pay to the govt per year. So basically he is mining slowly. But we are talking about average reclamation cost in terms of dollar per ton of coal. You will pay the same dollar per ton of coal. This will not change if you mine the coal slower. You will just be paying the same amount after longer intervals.

arkle wrote:
(C) Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.

I see this option as very narrow in scope. Let me explain -

Mining - Surface+underground
areas - Mountain+plains(regular)

This option talks about a very specific mining that has stopped i.e. surface mining in the mountainous areas. Now it is no where given how much this type of mining contributes to coal industry or what the effect on total reclamation cost would be,if we stop doing this.


Average of 4 numbers: 1, 2, 5, 100 is 27.
What if I remove the largest number 100? The average goes down to less than 3.
This is the same concept. The average cost goes down when an area where reclamation costs were very high stopped getting mined.

Note that average reclamation cost is a theoretical cost. It is is not what is charged. Every area is charged a different reclamation cost. Average just helps us get a feel for the combined effect of different reclamation costs.
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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E is the best answer.

Here is my reasoning.
Technology not improved...greater percentage of coal is mined in surface mines...results in lower reclamation cost per ton of coal produced...

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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But in order to choose E, don't you have to know that the number of coal mines has stayed the same?

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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ttar wrote:
Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations requiring operators of surface mines
to pay for the reclamation of mined-out land. Since then, reclamation technology has not
improved. Yet, the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed
today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced, less than half what it
cost to reclaim surface mines in the years immediately after the regulations took effect.
Which of the following, if true, most helps to account for the drop in reclamation costs
described?

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation
costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal
mines in almost any other country.
B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has
declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of
Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high
for mines in such areas.
D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation
costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than
underground mines.
E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in
Balzania today comes from surface mines.


wow! can barely understand the question...
A is irrelevant
B...amount of coal used doesnt make a difference as they are talking about average cost of reclamation per ton of coal
C...irrelevant due to similar reasons as B
D...comparison to underground mines is irrelevant
E however could explain it...if more coal is produced in a particular area...amount of land per ton of coal is less, thus reducing the cost of reclamation

hence my answer is E

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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ttar wrote:
Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations requiring operators of surface mines to pay for the reclamation of mined-out land. Since then, reclamation technology has not improved. Yet, the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced, less than half what it cost to reclaim surface mines in the years immediately after the regulations took effect. Which of the following, if true, most helps to account for the drop in reclamation costs
described?

C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.


(C).
Often, more productive technology makes things cheaper over time. But that is NOT the case here. If not better technology, it must be something about how mines are operated when in use, that makes their later reclamation cheaper. (C) addresses this: mine operators are now working locations that are cheaper to reclaim.

(The only alternate explanation would be, say, general deflation making everything cheaper. But that's not an answer choice).

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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Problem with B :
It says that the use of coal has been reduced. But that doesn't mean that mining is ceased. It its quite possible that the mining is still continued and the coal is exported to other countries.

Explanation of C ( CORRECT answer)

Let there be 3 sites in Balzania - site 1 , 2 and 3 - where surface mines were operated .
Let a , b and c tons of coal were processed from the 3 sites respectively
and the cost for reclamation be c1, c2 and c3 respectively.

then the average reclamation cost : (ac1 + bc2 + cc3)/ (a+ b+ c)
Now let site 3 be the mountainous area.

Now if site 3 stops mining,
then the average reclamation cost : (ac1 + bc2)/ (a+ b)

It is given that c3 is very high. Hence the new average reclamation cost should decrease provided the value of c is very small.

But this is the best answer here and we should go with choice C.
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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@targetgmatchotu - I dont believe you are reading the question correctly. The reclamation costs refer only to the coal produced from surface mines, not the total coal produced. Hence, the reclamation costs/ton of coal do not change regardless of whether surface mine satisfy half or country's demand or 20% of the demand.

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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arkle wrote:
Thanks VeritasPrepKarishma It makes sense to me now that how (C) can be a contender. However,I still have questions regarding (B).

Quote:
So basically he is mining slowly. But we are talking about average reclamation cost in terms of dollar per ton of coal. You will pay the same dollar per ton of coal.


In my response, I am not talking about the speed at which the miner is producing coal. I am saying that less quantity of coal was mined during the last 20 year i.e. the number of tons has decreased and because of that the land digging has decreased and hence the reclamation cost.

reclamation cost today is only four dollars per ton of coal => it directly depends on ton of coal produced. Usage of coal has decreased => less coal is getting mined/reduction in tons => number of times you have to pay $4 reduces.

Quote:
average reclamation cost in terms of dollar per ton of coal. You will pay the same dollar per ton of coal. This will not change if you mine the coal slower. You will just be paying the same amount after longer intervals.


I am not sure I get how I will pay same dollar per ton of coal. The avg. reclamation cost will go down if less tons are produced.


Note that the total reclamation cost will go down if you mine less coal - but reclamation cost which is dollars per ton stays the same. If you pay $4 per ton, you pay the same rate whether you mine 10 tons of coal or 10,000 tons of coal. The $ per ton rate does not change. Only the total cost paid changes.
The question talks about "average reclamation cost in terms of dollar per ton of coal." That does not change if you dig up less coal.
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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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chetan2u wrote:
VeritasPrepKarishma wrote:
kobaum wrote:
Might someone know what level would this question be?

This question got me thinking for quite some time... I couldn't find a reasoning for why C was the best answer before seeing others' explanation above.


As tagged above, it is a 700 level question. It is certainly one of the hard ones though not ambiguous at all.


Hi Karishma,
Is it really difficultwhen one looks at the answer choices..
all the choices are out of context other than the answer..
the Q tells us that reclamation cosst has gone down without any improvement in tech...

A. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, coal mines in Balzania continued to be less expensive to operate than coal mines in almost any other country.
out of context as we are not comparing different countries
B. In the twenty years since the regulations took effect, the use of coal as a fuel has declined from the level it was at in the previous twenty years.
again use has nothing to do with reclamation cost.. out of context
C. Mine operators have generally ceased surface mining in the mountainous areas of Balzania because reclamation costs per ton of coal produced are particularly high for mines in such areas.correct
D. Even after Balzania began requiring surface mine operators to pay reclamation costs, surface mines continued to produce coal at a lower total cost than underground mines.
Again we are not comparing cost between two different methods of mining... out of context
E. As compared to twenty years ago, a greater percentage of the coal mined in Balzania today comes from surface mines.
it again speaks of usage , which has nothing to do with reclamation cost per ton of coal

Dear chetan2u and kobaum,
I'm happy to respond on this issue. :-) With all due respect to Karishma, for whom I have considerable respect, I am going to introduce a different perspective. I am going to say that I am deeply skeptical of this entire idea of a "700 level question." Yes, on average, there are harder questions and easier questions. Nevertheless, the idea that we can pinpoint with mathematical precision the difficulty of any individual question is ludicrous. See this blog article:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2014/is-this-a- ... -question/
Any reasonably challenging question is going to be harder for some folks and easier for some folks. Even if the idea of quantifiable difficulty has some reality, it is only in the broadest statistical sense, and not at all in the individual perception of the question. The fact that one isolated student finds a question easy or hard means absolutely nothing about the objective difficulty of the question. You see, students are convinced of this fiction that all questions have an objective, quantifiable difficulty; then GC, trying to accommodate students, creates this tag; then we folks who write questions and post them on GMAT club have to use that tag on a question we are posting. To be honest, once I write a GMAT practice question, I usually only have a vague guess about how easy or hard it is, and some times, as we gather data on questions, I find that my guesses were wrong. I am going to say, my friends, that it is a complete waste of time to obsess about whether this question or that question is a mythical 700 level question. Forget all the numbers, forget all the scoring, and keep practicing & learning & challenging yourself. You waste valuable time and energy when you focus on what doesn't matter. Focus on understanding as many questions as possible, and in particular, focus on understanding your mistakes and how to learn from them. Focus on understanding more deeply what is difficult for you. Forget about whether that question is this level or that level.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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New post 25 Dec 2004, 10:50
Good question. Here is the key: "the average reclamation cost for a surface coal mine being reclaimed today is only four dollars per ton of coal that the mine produced".

Here average cost per ton of coal mined is discussed. Hence, E the best answer.

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jun 2005, 01:00
C. directly addresses costs of reclamation

E is close but irrelavant since since less dug-up soil has no direct bearing on reclamation costs per ton. ton is still a ton

Last edited by sparky on 12 Jun 2005, 17:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Twenty years ago, Balzania put in place regulations   [#permalink] 12 Jun 2005, 01:00

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