Coal is the most abundant of fossil fuels. The world currently consumes over 7,800 million tonnes of coal which is used by a variety of sectors including power generation, iron and steel production, cement manufacturing and as a liquid fuel. The majority of coal is either utilised in power generation that utilises steam coal or lignite, or iron and steel production that uses coking coal.

The role of coal in power generation is set to continue. Coal currently fuels 40% of the world’s electricity and is forecast to continue to supply a strategic share over the next three decades. The largest coal producing countries are not confined to one region. The top five producers are China, the US, India, Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.

Coal is known as the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel and the continuing use of coal in global electrification could have implications for climate change mitigation strategies. The introduction of various carbon management schemes, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS), is vital to mitigate the impact of future coal use on the environment.

Coal data is sourced from our Member Committees and BP Statistical Review of 2016 and includes per selected countries total production in million tonnes (Mt) in 2015, proved recoverable reserves divided in two categories, Anthracite & Bituminous and Lignite & Sub-bituminous, and consumption (Mt). Proved recoverable reserves are resources remaining in known coal deposits that have been shown to be accessible under current local economic and technological conditions.

There are four main categories of coal:

Lignite, or ‘brown coal’. This is the youngest form of coal and is used almost exclusively for electric power generation.

Sub-bituminous coal. This coal, which has spent more time underground than lignite before being recovered, is mainly used for power generation.

Bituminous coal. Older than sub-bituminous coal, this coal can be used in heat and power manufacturing applications as a coking coal, mainly for steel and aluminium production.

Anthracite (often included within bituminous coal). The oldest form of coal is used mainly for residential and space heating, and is perhaps the most familiar form of coal, the shiny black rock.

All data represented in the graphs and charts on this website represents totals of the various categories above.

Global Coal Recoverable Reserves

  Loading graph...

Coal Recoverable Reserves by region

  Loading graph...

Top Coal producing countries

  Loading graph...

Coal Recoverable Reserves by region

  Loading graph...