Fast Facts About Mining

If you have turned on a light, entered a building, driven on a road, made a phone call, used a computer,  or visited a doctor, then mining is an important part of your life. -National Mining Association

Energy 101 provided by LIFE:Powered

Energy 101: Why We Need Electricity,
Energy 101: The Electric Grid,
Energy 101: Where Electricity Comes From,
Energy 101: Energy Density,
Energy 101: Mining and Rare Earths,
Energy 101: Environmental Technology,

Resources for U.S. Mining Facts:

U.S. Department of Energy:
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy & Carbon Management: 
Minerals Make Life:
National Mining Association:
American Exploration & Mining Association:

Four Basic Varieties of Coal:

  • Anthracite: Sometimes also called "hard coal," anthracite was formed from bituminous coal when great pressures developed in folded rock strata during the creation of mountain ranges. Anthracite has the highest energy content of all coals and is used for space heating and generating electricity. Anthracite averages 25 million Btu per ton.
  • Bituminous: Bituminous or "soft" coal formed when greater pressure was applied to subbituminous coal. This is the type most commonly used for electric power generation in the U.S.. It has a higher heating value than either lignite or subbituminous, but less than that of anthracite. Bituminous coal averages 24 million Btu per ton.
  • Subbituminous: Subbituminous coal formed from lignite when it came under higher pressure. This coal is a combustible mineral formed from the remains of trees, ferns and other plants that existed and died during the time of the dinosaurs. A dull black coal with a higher heating value than lignite that is used primarily for generating electricity and for space heating. Subbituminous coal averages 18 million Btu per ton.
  • Lignite: Increased pressures and heat from overlying strata caused buried peat to dry and harden into lignite. Lignite is a brownish-black coal with generally high moisture and ash content and lower heating value. However, it is an important form of energy for generating electricity, particularly in the American Southwest. Lignite averages 14 million Btu per ton.