Coal is a readily combustible black or brownish-black rock. It is the largest single source of fuel for the generation of electricity world-wide, as well as the largest world-wide source of carbon dioxide emissions, slightly ahead of petroleum and about double that of natural gas. Coal is extracted from the ground by coal mining, either underground mining or open pit mining (surface mining). On this basis the world has over 200 years of coal reserves at current rates of consumption. Significant deposits of coal exist in all of the world’s major continents and production is wide spread, including some of the world’s most stable economies.
The following table describes the distribution of known coal reserves across the world.
% of total
Former Soviet Union
Rest of World
Steam Coal has a lot of key uses. The most significant ones are in cement manufacturing, electricity and steel production, and other industrial processes. Noting that over 65% of the world’s steel production is based on coal. Steam Coal plays a very important role in power generation. Coal currently fuels 40% of the world’s electricity and this proportion is expected to remain at similar levels over the next 30 years. As for cement kiln firing, almost 80% of cement factories worldwide use coal to a lesser extent Petroleum coke because of limited availability.