Anthracite or ‘hard coal’ is a high quality coal mined in relatively few areas round the world. North East Pennsylvania is one of the best documented reserve areas, and it can also be found in small amounts in South Wales – the other producing countries are China, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Vietnam and Australia. The anthracite region of Pennsylvania is an excellent example of intense folding of sedimentary rocks, which combined with higher than normal temperatures to convert bituminous coal to anthracite. Anthracite represents coal at its most metamorphosed, and accounts for just 1% of all coal reserves in the world.
Anthracite is the cleanest solid fossil fuel known to man – it is clean and smooth to touch, leaving no soot residue, and produces no smoke when burnt. It has the highest carbon content of any coal (86-92%) and very low sulphur levels (less than 0.7%) making it a sought after carbon source in the steel and ferrous metals industry. It is very dense, much harder than ordinary bituminous coal, and has a semi-metallic sheen to it. It is also an incredibly efficient fuel, with low moisture levels and a high calorific value.