What is waste coal called?

What is waste coal called?

Waste coal, also known as gob or culm, is a type of coal that is generated as a byproduct of mining operations. Although it is not considered a desirable fuel source due to its low-quality and impurities, it can still be used for various applications, including electricity generation, heating, soil amendment, and land reclamation. In this article, we will delve into the topic of coal, including its formation, impact on the environment, and uses.

What is Waste Coal?

Waste coal is generated during the mining process when the coal left behind in underground mines is exposed to air and water. The exposure causes the coal to oxidize and release various impurities and contaminants, resulting in a low-quality fuel source. This waste coal, along with other mining waste such as rock and dirt, is left behind in piles, known as waste piles or culm banks.

The composition of coal refuse can vary depending on the type of coal being mined and the conditions under which it was left behind. Some coal refuse piles may contain significant amounts of usable coal, while others may be mostly composed of rock and dirt. Due to its impurities and low-energy content, it is typically not suitable for most applications and is considered a waste product.

How is Waste Coal Formed?

Coal is formed during the mining process when the coal that is left behind in underground mines is exposed to air and water. The oxidation of the coal releases various impurities and contaminants, which results in a low-quality fuel source. The coal is then transported to waste piles, where it is stored until it can be disposed of or utilized.

Impact on the Environment

coal refuse is considered a significant environmental hazard due to its high levels of impurities and contaminants. When exposed to air and water, it can release harmful pollutants into the environment, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and heavy metals. These pollutants can cause acid rain, smog, and respiratory problems for humans and animals.

Waste piles also pose a risk of fires and explosions, which can release additional pollutants into the environment. Additionally, waste coal piles can contaminate nearby water sources, making them unfit for human or animal consumption.

However, waste coal can also have a positive impact on the environment when it is reclaimed and utilized as a fuel source. By using waste coal to generate electricity or heat, it is possible to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are burned, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

Uses of Waste Coal

Despite its low-quality and impurities, waste coal can still be used for various applications. Some of the most common uses of waste include:

Electricity Generation: Can be burned in power plants to generate electricity. Although it is not as efficient as traditional coal, it can be a cost-effective way to generate power and reduce the amount of waste coal that is left behind in waste piles.

Heating:  Can also be used as a fuel source for heating applications, such as boilers or furnaces. This can be a cost-effective way to provide heat for industrial or commercial applications.

Soil Amendment: Can be used as a soil amendment to improve soil fertility and reduce erosion. When added to soil, it can help retain moisture and nutrients, which can promote healthy plant growth.

Reclamation: coal piles can be reclaimed and used for land reclamation purposes, such as filling in abandoned mines or restoring damaged ecosystems. This can help reduce the environmental impact of waste coal piles and promote sustainable land use practices.


Waste coal is a byproduct of mining operations that is typically considered to be a low-quality fuel source. However, with advances in technology, it is becoming possible to convert waste coal into a usable fuel source.