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US coal reserves 2013

World Coal,

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released data concerning coal reserves in the US as of 1st January 2013.

As of 1st January this year, the demonstrated reserve base (DRB) was estimated to contain 481 billion short t. In the US, coal resources are larger than remaining natural gas and oil resources, based on total British thermal units (Btus). Every year, the EIA reports remaining tons of coal in the DRB, which is made up of coal resources that have been identified to specified levels of accuracy.

However, there are a number of problems when it comes to accurately assessing coal reserves information and data in the US. These include:

  • Recovery rates vary greatly between underground and surface mining. The actual proportion of coal resources that can be recovered from undisturbed deposits varies from less than 40% in some underground mines to over 90% at some surface mines.
  • Limited access to some coal. Due to property rights, land use conflicts, and physical and environmental restrictions, EIA has estimated that only approximately 54% of the DRB may be available or accessible for mining.

In response to these issues, the EIA annually estimates recoverable coal reserves by adjusting the DRB to reflect accessibility and recovery rates in mining. As of 1st January 2013, EIA estimated that the remaining US recoverable coal reserves totalled over 257 billion short t, from a DRB of 481 billion short t.

Recoverable coal reserves at producing mines represent the quantity of coal that can be recovered from existing coal reserves at producing mines. These reserves reflect the working inventory at producing mines, and in 2012, the recoverable reserves at producing mines were 18.7 billion short t.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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