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Coal is a family name for a variety of solid organic fuels and refers to a whole range of combustible sedimentary rock materials spanning a continuous quality range. For convenience, this continuous series is divided into four categories:

- anthracite
- bituminous coal
- sub-bituminous coal
- lignite.

Classification of different types of coal into practical categories for use at an international level is difficult for two reasons:

- Divisions between coal categories vary between classification systems, both national and international, based on calorific value, volatile matter content, fixed carbon content, caking and coking properties, or some combination of two or more of these criteria.

- Although the relative value of the coals within a particular category depends on the degree of dilution by moisture and ash and contamination by sulphur, chlorine, phosphorous and certain trace elements, these factors do not affect the divisions between categories.

Coal quality can vary and it is not always possible to ensure that available descriptive and analytical information is truly representative of the body of coal to which it refers.

The International Coal Classification of the Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) recognises two broad categories of coal:

- hard coal
- brown coal

The International Energy Agency has adopted this definition of hard coal and brown coal .

Source Publication:
Electricity information 2001, International Energy Agency, Paris – Part II.

Statistical Theme: Energy statistics

Created on Wednesday, July 31, 2002