Coal is the foremost power resources in India and is the most abundantly available fossil fuel. It provides a substantial part of the nation’s energy needs. It is used for power generation, to supply energy to industry as well as for domestic needs. India is highly dependent on coal for meeting its commercial energy requirements. Coal, therefore, is found in a variety of forms depending on the degrees of compression and the depth and time of burial. Decaying plants in swamps produce peat. This has a low carbon and high moisture contents and low heating capacity.Around 67% of total commercial coal energy produced in India. It is often called “Black Gold”.
Types of Coal
• Anthracite (more than 80% carbon content) is the best quality of coal. In India, it is found only in Jammu and Kashmir.
• Bituminous (60 to 80 % Carbon Content) is the second best quality of coal. It is the most popular coal in commercial use. Metallurgical coal is high grade bituminous coal which has a special value for smelting iron in blast furnaces.
• Lignite is a low grade brown coal, which is soft with high moisture content. The principal lignite reserves are in Neyveli in Tamil Nadu and are used for generation of electricity.
• Peat (less than 40% carbon content)
In India coal occurs in rock series of two main geological ages, namely Gondwana, a little over 200 million years in age and in tertiary deposits which are only about 55 million years old. The major resources of Gondwana coal, which are metallurgical coal, are located in Damodar valley (West Bengal-Jharkhand).
Jharia, Raniganj, Bokaro are important coalfields. The Godavari, Mahanadi, Son and Wardha valleys also contain coal deposits. Tertiary coals occur in the north eastern states of Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
Major Coal Areas
• The Damodar Valley Coalfield: It is the largest coal field in India that extended to Jharkhand and West Bengal. Jharia in Jharkhand is the largest coal mining field. Most of the coking coal in India is obtained from here. Other major coalfields in Jharkhand are Chandrapura, Bokaro, Giridih, Karanpura and Ramgarh. Ranigunj in West Bengal is a major coalfield.
• The Son Valley Coalfield: It is located mainly in Madhya Pradesh and partly in the Uttar Pradesh. The Singrauli mining area (Sidhi District) in Madhya Pradesh is famous for coal production. Sohagpur, Umaria, Tatapani, and Ramkola are other major coalfields in Madhya Pradesh.
• The Mahanadi Coalfield: It is located in Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Korba district, Vishrampur, Jhilmil and Chirmir (Ambikapur district) in Chhattisgarh; Talcher (Dhenkanal district) and Rampur-Hingir (Sambalpur) in Odisha are major mining fields.
• The Godavari Coalfield: It is located in Telangana. Karimnagar, Khammam and Warrangal are major coal producing districts. The Singreni coalfield (Khamman district) in Telangana is famous. Tandoor and Sasti (Adilabad, Telangana) are other major mining fields.
• The Wardha Coalfield: Chandrapur, Yavatmal and Nagpur in Maharashtra are major coalfield under it. Chandrapur (Chandrapur district), Vallarpur (Yavatmal district) and Kampati (Nagpur district) are major mining field.
• The Satpura Coalfield: It is located in the Pench-Kanhan-Tawa valley, south of Narmada river, known as Satpura Gondwana Basin . Ghorbari in the kanhan valley is famous mining field. Patharkheda (Betul district) in the Pench valley is a major coal field.
• The Rajmahal Coalfield: The coalfields of this area are assuming importance lately. The unique location of the coalfields at the southern bank of the Ganges offers a good possibility of supplying coals to major power stations of North Bihar, North Bengal and Bangladesh. Based on the coal of this region, a Super Thermal Power Station has been built at Farakka. There are five coalfields in this area. Coals of this region are sub-bituminous to high volatile bituminous in rank.