Resource Overview


The World Coal Association defines coal as:

"...a combustible, sedimentary, organic rock, which is composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. It is formed from vegetation, which has been consolidated between other rock strata and altered by the combined effects of pressure and heat over millions of years to form coal seams."

The degree of change undergone by coal (i.e., "coalification") affects its physical and chemical properties, which results in different ranks of coal. Anthracite is the highest-ranking coal because compared to other types, it is older, harder, stronger, contains more carbon, has lower moisture content, and produces more energy (World Coal Association).



The image below captures the relative quality, availability and uses of anthracite coal (World Coal Association).




Close-up View of Anthracite

The high carbon content of anthracite coal (82% to 86%) makes it a cost efficient fuel source. Burning at about 25MM British Thermal Units (BTUs) per ton, its cost per million BTUs is lower than that of competing fuel sources such as electricity, gas, oil cordwood and wood pellets. With low sulphur and volatile content, it is also the cleanest-burning solid fossil fuel and carbon source (Resource-Net, 2011) . Anthracite is used across a myriad of industrial processes, including the following (Cornerstone, 2013):





·         Used as an ultra-low volatile Pulverized Coal Injection (PCI) input to reduce the quantity of coke in the production of crude steel.

·         May replace coke to reduce blast furnace consumption of metallurgic coke.

·         Used in arc/direct reduction steel manufacturing, as well as the processing of ferroalloys and other metals.

Coal gasification and liquefaction

·         High carbon content makes anthracite the top choice for making synthetic fuels, plastics and fertilizers.

Power generation

·         Utilized in coal-fired thermal power plants and enhance the reduction of greenhouse emissions at such plants.


·         Also utilized in the manufacturing of carbon composite materials, and for water filtration and purification.


Anthracite is also used in non-industrial settings, mainly for space heating in residences and businesses. Loose pieces are sold in bags of varying sizes, and sometimes as briquettes.



Standard sizes for trading anthracite coal range from 2 7/16” x 1 5/8” to 3/16” x 3/32”. The specific grades in descending order of size are: stove, chestnut, pea, buckwheat, rice and barley. Larger pieces of coal burn hotter, which is why prices for grades of anthracite decrease as sizes decrease.




Did You Know?

 Coal is the world's largest source of energy for the production of electricity.

 1 billion tons of coal used in global industrial steel production each year.

There are zero alternatives to coal in the industrial steel-making process.