Story: Coal and coal mining

Types of coal

Types of coal

These six examples of New Zealand coal show how the appearance of coal changes with its rank. The two examples on the right are of low rank, with considerable moisture, relatively little carbon, and are dull. The bottom right, from Waimamaku Beach in Northland, contains a fossilised broadleaf. The top right is lignite, also from Northland. The example at bottom centre is sub-bituminous coal from Huntly. It is blacker and contains somewhat less moisture. The two examples at the top (centre and left) are both bituminous coal from the West Coast, while the shiny, fractured coal at the bottom left is anthracite from the Fox River on the West Coast. Anthracite is the highest-rank coal, has little moisture, and its metallic lustre contrasts strongly with the dull, lower-ranked coal on the bottom right.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Alastair McLean

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How to cite this page:

Alan Sherwood and Jock Phillips, 'Coal and coal mining - The nature of coal', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 April 2021)

Story by Alan Sherwood and Jock Phillips, published 12 Jun 2006, updated 7 Sep 2016