The use of surface continuous miners enables the effective design of selected mining operations. Since the cutting depth of operational drums can be changed, it is possible to mine seams with different characteristics, i.e. different calorific values, ash content etc. The size of the material cut and the dust generated during excavation are sometimes very important factors in selecting the right type of an excavating machine and the type of a mining operation. This paper, which is a result of a research project sponsored by NATO Science for Stability Programme (TU-Excavation Project), discusses the main design parameters of cutting experiments carried out on coal samples taken from Mil-Ten Coal Company. The physical and mechanical characteristics of the coal samples were first determined and then the samples were subjected to cutting tests in an excavation laboratory. The cutting depth and spacing of cutting tools were changed and the tool forces in three directions and specific energy values were measured using a shaping machine, a force dynamometer and an advance data acquisition system. Finally, the cut material was subjected to a sieve analysis and the results were analysed to see if a surface continuos miner could be used in a coal mine situated in the Istanbul area.