One of the most vital, serious and perplexing problems facing the nation today is to understand our coal resources. Are they best categorized as resources, should they be upgraded to reserves or discounted completely. If clearly in the reserves category, what actually is the nature of the material - what is the heat value, ash content, sulfur, alkali, volatile matter, and moisture. Of equal importance - what is the true seam thickness, what are the washability characteristics, how many partings are there and what is their thickness? Is the seam uniform in thickness, what will be the roof and floor conditions, are conditions suitable for longwall equipment?
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It is the intent of this course to deal with the very broad aspects of coal petrology. In the process of doing this, the authors intend to point out many of the areas in which the science has been applied to geological and various production problems and also to suggest some areas where future work may be of value. The emphasis is to provide some basic reference materials, some procedural techniques and possibly some ideas for those of you who wish to pursue work in this area. This course is not intended to train you as a coal petrologist but rather to give you some ideas of what the capabilities and limitations of the field are, and to help you get started on your own if you wish to pursue any of these ideas to greater length.