The story of coal
Types and uses of coal
There are hundreds of variations in the manner in which coal is formed, and layer upon layer of coal may be found if the processes are repeated more than once in a single area. Additionally, some coal is deeply buried in thick seams hundreds or thousands of metres underground, but elsewhere it might be found only in thin layers near the surface.
Also, the nature of the coal depends very largely on how the original matter was composted and compressed. The hardest coal, anthracite, is up to 94% carbon, while standard cannel or bituminous coal, which makes up most of Britain’s coalfields, is 86% to 88% carbon.
Coal accounts for 40% of the fuel used around the world annually to generate power and over 7,000 million tonnes is mined per year.
There are two main types of coal:
Brown coal/Sub-bituminous (also known as lignite) tend to have a lower calorific value (a measurement of energy per unit of mass) and are not mined in the UK. Most hard coal is bituminous coal and this accounts for the majority of UK Coal’s current output.
There are two main types of hard coal:
Steam coal (also called thermal coal), is mainly used in power stations with some going direct to industry Substitutes for steam coal are oil, gas, nuclear and renewables
Coking coal (also called met coal), is used to make coke which is an essential raw material for blast furnaces used for steel making. There is no effective substitute for coking coal. Steel producers use blends of coking coal to make coke, with about half being the best type known as hard coking coal.
UK Coal’s output
90% of UK Coal’s output is steam coal which goes direct to power stations for generating electricity. All of the company’s deep mined output is sold to the generating industry.