Environmental studies, including reclamation research, were initiated at Quinsam in the early 1980s. Quinsam began as an open pit mine in 1986. It switched to underground mining in 1993 with open-pit mining ceasing in 1994.

The underground coal mining at Quinsam uses room-and-pillar methods. This mining method uses mechanized, remote control continuous mining machines to develop a series of underground roadways in the coal leaving a series of pillars of coal. The continuous miners cut and load the coal into shuttle cars, which haul and empty the coal onto a belt conveyor system leading to a coal stockpile on the surface. From there, coal is transported to the coal preparation plant.

A front-end-loader feeds coal into the coal preparation plant where the coal is crushed, sized, sorted and cleaned through a series of physical processes.