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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many coal-fired power stations are there worldwide?

According to the IEA Clean Coal Centre, there are over 2300 coal-fired power stations worldwide (7000 individual units). Approximately 620 of these power stations are in China.

These statistics are taken from the IEA Clean Coal Centre's CoalPower database, which covers the world's coal-fired power plants, their units, and the addresses of utilities and suppliers. It contains operating as well as mothballed, under construction or planned power plants. Information on SO2, NOx, particulate and Hg control systems and their installations is also included in the database.

Information on how to obtain a copy of the CoalPower database is available at

2. What is the price of coal?

The World Coal Association does not provide information on coal pricing. We are unable to supply pricing information, market forecasts or advice on where to buy and sell coal because of our ‘Competition and Compliance’ guidelines. Please direct enquiries on these areas to the companies and organisations listed below.

3. What is the Current Level of Global Coal Production and Consumption?

WCA uses statistics produced by other reputable bodies – particularly those produced by the International Energy Agency ( The latest statistics available from the IEA are estimates for the year 2012.

Statistics for 2012:

Total steam coal production5942 million tonnes
Total coking coal production983 million tonnes
Total lignite coal production905 million tonnes
Total coal production7830 million tonnes

4. How much coal is left worldwide?

The reserves to production (R/P) ratio provides an indicator of how long proved coal reserves will last at the current rate of extraction. BP calculated this to be 109 years for coal at the end of 2012.

Proved coal reserves are determined by the technical and economical feasibility of recovery and, as these are subject to a number of variables, R/P ratios are likely to vary year-on-year.

The current largest proved coal reserves are included in the table below.

Proved Reserves at end of 2012
CountryBillion Tonnes
PR China114.5
South Africa30.2

5. How do I become a member of the World Coal Association?

Membership of the World Coal Association is on a company or association basis (we do not have a membership category for individuals). Corporate members can be from all sectors of the coal industry – including producers, equipment manufacturers, transportation companies, utilities etc. Associate members are usually national associations.

If you could like to enquire about membership and the value it could bring to your company/organisation, please send an email through to providing some details about the company you represent. We will then provide you with more detailed information about membership and how to apply.

6. What proportion of global coal production and coal exports do WCA Members represent?

WCA Members produce 1759 million tonnes of coal, representing 23% of global coal production. WCA Members export over 300 millon tonnes of coal, representing over 35% of global exports.

7. How many coal mines are there worldwide?

Although WCA does not collate statistics on this ourselves, below are estimated figures taken from a number of different sources.

Estimated Number of Coal Mines Worldwide

 Total Number of Coal Mines% Underground% Opencast
Sub totals20,62390%10%
World (estimate)24,000  

Although the total number of mines wordwide is dominated by underground mining, a large percentage of these are small-scale and relatively unproductive mines in China. Production figures from the IEA suggest that only around 60% of total coal production comes from undergound mines, with 40% coming from opencast mining.

Sources: China National Coal Association, US Energy Information Administration, Ministry of Power India, UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, IEA. Information taken from a number of years: 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009

(1) total includes 23 refuse recovery operations
(2) total includes 33 mixed mines (underground and opencast)

8. Do you have historic data on steel production and consumption?

Steel Production


The above statistics are all sourced to the World Steel Association –

The World Steel Association produces a wealth of material on the steel industry, including the brochure ‘World Steel in Figures’ and the more detailed ‘Steel Statistical Yearbook’.

9. Who are the world's top coal producing companies?

World's Top Coal Producers in 2010 (million tonnes)

 Company2010 Production
1.Coal India431
2.Shenhua Group352
3.Peabody Energy198
4.Datong Coal150
5.Arch Coal146
6.China Coal138
7.BHP Billiton104
8.Shanxi Coal101
9.RWE Power99
10.Anglo American97

Source: World Energy Outlook (2010)

10. How much CO2 is emitted from 1 tonne of coal?

Emissions of CO2 can vary significantly by coal type. Using the IPCC default CO2 emission factors of 94600 kg/TJ of 'Other bituminous' coal and 96100 kg/TJ for subbituminous (Indonesian) coals, and then using the McCloskey typical energy contents produces an average emissions factor of 2.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of coal.

Source: IEA Clean Coal Centre (2010)

11. Can you provide technical assistance on ensuring the optimum performance of coal at coal-fired power plants?

The World Coal Association is a policy group, focusing on high-level policy issues impacting the coal industry. We are engaged in international policy discussions, with bodies such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Energy Agency.

Although we provide a broad range of material on our website, we are not a technical body and cannot provide technical expertise on power plant performance. For in-depth technical enquiries, we would recommend contacting the IEA Clean Coal Centre, who produce a wealth of useful technical material:

If you have a question that is not answered by content on our website, please send your email through to and we will either try to answer it ourselves or put you in touch with an expert.

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