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Coal is 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.

Coal is a fossil fuel and is far more plentiful than oil or gas, with around 109 years of coal remaining worldwide.

Not only does coal provide electricity, it is also an essential fuel for steel and cement production, and other industrial activities.

This section provides further information on coal, where it is found, how it is mined and used, along with information on markets and transportation and coal seam methane.

In this section

What is Coal?

Coal formation began during the Carboniferous Period - known as the first coal age - which spanned 360 million to 290 million years ago.

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Coal Mining

Coal is mined in either underground or surfacing mining operations.

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Uses of Coal

Coal has many important uses worldwide. The most significant uses are in electricity generation, steel production, cement manufacturing and as a liquid fuel.

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Also in this section

Coal Seam Methane

Methane (CH4) is a gas formed as part of the process of coal formation - coalification. When coal is mined methane is released from the coal seam and the surrounding disturbed rock strata. Methane can also be released as a result of natural erosion or faulting.

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Market & Transportation

International trade in coal only accounts for about 17% of total coal consumed

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Read more on the WCA blog Extract