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Coal is a type of organically formed commercial minerals mainly used as fuel. It is formed under the ground as a result of biological and geological processes. Plant residues undergoing decomposition under the influence of pressure and temperature over a significant amount of time form the basis of the coal formation. Carbon is the main component of coal; it includes also secondary elements: oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. Coal is the first mineral product developed by humanity as a fuel which allowed to bring about advancements in industry originating from the XVIII century. Already in the middle of the XX century utilization of coal produced half of all the energy available in the world.

Coal formation. Sufficient amount of accumulated vegetative organic matter is necessary for coal formation. Plant residues accumulated in the prehistoric turf moors about 400 million years ago which then transformed into coal under the influence of temperature, pressure and time.
In the process of coal formation decomposing plant mass turned into turfs which in their turn after ingression under other sediments and pressurization were losing gases and water contained therein, thus transforming into coal.

Types of coal. Depending on formation and mass fraction of carbon several types of coal are distinguished: mineral coal, brown coal, anthracite and graphite. Coal classification in Western countries is slightly different from classification used in the CIS countries.

Anthracite is a coal with the uttermost degree of metamorphism. It is black in colour with metallic iridescence. It is characterized by high density and carbon content of 93 - 95%. Coal with carbon content of more than 97% is super anthracite. It is used as fuel with high heat output but at the same time it is difficult to ignite. Anthracite of mineral coal is formed at the depth of 6 km under the influence of a higher pressure and temperature.

Mineral coal is black, sometimes dark-grey in colour, with mat or semi-mat glossy surface. Carbon content in this type of coal amounts to 75% and more, in some cases it can be more than 95%. This type of coal has high combustion temperature due to the high moisture content (up to 12%) and is of good ignition quality due to the content of up to 33% of volatile substances. This type of coal is being formed at the depth of about 3 km from brown coal.

Brown coal is a type of coal, formed from turf. It is grey in colour. In its content it has 65 - 70% of carbon and 40 - 45% of water. It is used as fuel and chemical raw material. It is being formed at the depth of about 1 km.

Coal extraction. Coal bed position depth is the major factor influencing the extraction technique. Open-pit mining is used for minerals extraction if the coal bed position depth is in the range of 100 m from the surface. In some cases, if the quarry depth is increased, it is expedient to go over to performing further extraction using the underground method. In case of coal extraction from greater depth underground mining is used.

Coal utilization. Coal is being utilized in a vast variety of ways. It is used as fuel in different spheres, as raw materials for metal and chemical industry. Various elements are produced from coal. Coal is also used for obtaining liquid and gaseous fuels (hydrogenation and gasification) and for graphite production as well.

Marking of coal
А — anthracite;
B — brown coal;
G — gas coal;
ОS — lean caking coal;
Т – lean coal;
D – candle coal;
Zh — fat coal;
K — coking coal.

Quantity of coal grades amounts to 17: “D”, “DG”, “Zh”, “G”, “GZh”, “K”, “OS”, “Т”, “АM”, “АО”, “АS”, “АK”, “АKO”, “АSh”, “B1”, “B2”, “B3”.