Coal is one of the major and oldest fuel resources used for various applications such as thermal power generation, steel manufacturing, heating and cement manufacturing. Thermal power generation is the largest consumer of overall coal produced globally. Coal is the preferred source in global electricity market due to its affordability, accessibility and distribution around the globe. Consequently, global demand for electricity is driving coal mining industry. Countries such as China, India, Australia, Russia, Poland, Colombia, USA, South Africa, Indonesia and Kazakhstan are the top coal mining nations.
The global coal mining market can be segmented on the basis of mining technology and type. On the basis of mining technology, the market is divided into surface mining and underground mining. Surface mining is further segmented into strip mining, auger mining, open-pit mining and mountain removal mining. Underground mining includes room, pillar and longwall mining. Based on coal type, the coal mining market is segmented into lignite, bituminous, sub-bituminous and anthracite. Bituminous segment dominates the overall coal mining market, and it has higher heating value than lignite and sub-bituminous but lesser than anthracite. Bituminous is most commonly used material for electric power generation.
With increasing environmental concerns over rapidly depleting fossil fuel sources and rising greenhouse gas emissions along with strict government emission regulations, the power industry is looking for more efficient and cleaner technologies. This has led to the emergence of clean coal technology, which reduces the emission of carbon and other harmful pollutants from a coal power plant using gasification or combustion process.
In addition, considering that majority of the coal reserves are located in greater depth, it becomes difficult to mine the coal through traditional methods. Consequently, the market is witnessing emergence of new technique called underground coal gasification which reserves by converting it into syngas. Syngas enables generation of electricity without mining unused coal removes the need to mine this deep located coal. Underground coal gasification process helps to generate safer, cleaner and cheaper power.
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