Inevitably, coal mining and processing create significant volumes of waste products. In many coal‑producing countries, huge quantities have been generated and stored in large heaps or ponds. Many contain significant amounts of residual coal, some of which can be recovered and used as an inexpensive source of energy, thus reducing the demand for fresh coal and helping diversify the energy mix.
There is growing pressure to reduce the environmental impacts produced by the large-scale storage of wastes. Reprocessing and clearing dumps can eliminate many of these and also allow the land previously occupied to be restored and turned over to productive use. Where site clearance includes coal recovery, income from coal sales can contribute towards the remediation costs.
Some wastes can be used directly in several types of combustion system. Alternatively, their residual coal can be recovered and used as a fuel. Some wastes require minimal pre-treatment, whereas others may need upgrading or blending with other materials prior to use.
The report examines the current situation in Australia, China, India, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Ukraine, UK and the USA. The scale and types of waste generated in each, their use, and their current and future potential are discussed.
The use of coal-derived of wastes as a source of energy
Dr Stephen Mills