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Coal Terms Glossary

anthracite type of coal with highest carbon content (86% to 98%) and thus highest heat value (nearly 15,000 BTUs-per-pound); found mostly in 11 northeastern counties in Pennsylvania
barge a long and large, usually flat-bottomed boat that is unpowered and towed by other boats or ships, used for transporting goods
bituminous type of coal with carbon content from 45% to 86% and heat value of 10,500 to 15,500 BTUs-per-pound; most plentiful form of coal in U.S.; used primarily to generate electricity and make coke for steel
bitumen a mixture containing hydrocarbons -- often produced by the processing of coal or oil -- used in asphalt or tar for road surfacing or waterproofing
coke a hard, dry substance containing carbon that's produced by heating bituminous coal to a very high temperature in the absence of air
conveyor a continuous moving belt that transports large volumes of material
deep mine type of mine created to access coal buried deep underground, characterized by a set of shafts dug straight down to the coal
demonstrated reserves portion of known coal reserves that could be profitably mined and marketed (in the U.S., about 472 billion tons -- or 25% of known American reserves)
dragline a large machine used in the surface mining process to remove overburden, or layers of earth and rock, covering a coal seam
drift mine type of mine created to access coal seam exposed by the slope of a mountain, characterized by an entrance that is a horizontal tunnel into the seam of coal
fossil fuels naturally occurring fuels of an organic nature, such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas
greenhouse effect a warming of the earth produced by the presence of certain gases in the atmosphere
lignite type of coal with lowest carbon content (25% to 35%) and a heat value of only 4,000 to 8,300 BTUs-per-pound; called "brown coal;" used mainly for electric power generation
longwall mining mechanized technique used to "scrape" coal from a block several hundred feet wide
overburden layers of earth and rock covering a coal seam
peat partially carbonized vegetable material, usually found in bogs
photosynthesis process by which green plants convert light to energy by transforming carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates
reclamation the process of restoring a surface mine site to its original contour, function, and appearance, thus "reclaiming" it
recoverable reserves portion of known demonstrated reserves (see above) that actually can be extracted from the earth and delivered to market with today's mining techniques (in the U.S., about 267 billion tons -- or 13% of known American reserves)
slurry a mixture of water and any of several finely crushed solids, especially cement, clay, or coal
subbituminous type of coal with 35% to 45% carbon content and heat value of 8,300 to 13,000 BTUs-per-pound; generally has lower sulfur content than other types, and so is cleaner-burning; found mainly in Western states and Alaska
surface mine type of mine created to access coal seam close to the ground's surface, characterized by a scraping away of topsoil and overburden followed by direct digging of the coal

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600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951

Last Updated: Thursday, 15-Dec-2005 14:41:54 Eastern Standard Time