Coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, is used exclusively as an essential ingredient for steel production.
The coal is baked in a coke oven which forces out impurities to produce coke, which is almost pure carbon. Modern steel plants, the likes of which are predominantly found in the UK and Europe, include extensive gas treatment and capture to significantly reduce emissions. The steel that is produced is used in our daily lives in cars, kettles and cookers as well as in the manufacture of wind turbines and nuclear power stations, our alternatives to coal-powered energy.
This is very different to thermal coal, which is used to create steam which power turbines which in turn create electricity. Climate change campaigners have long sought to reduce impacts from coal power generation by removing this as a source of power in the UK, something the Government intends to take effect by 2025.
West Cumbria coals are known to be high volatile, hard coking coal. They have:
- Very low ash levels (less than 3%) – thus reduced waste material
- Very low phosphorus (less than 0.01%) – a major positive for steel strength
- Very good coke characteristics – it performs well in the furnace
- Moderate sulphur (around 1%) – reduced by coal processing
The quality of the metallurgical coal our mine is able to produce is equivalent to premium US High Volatile ‘A’ coal. Tests from the area lead us to believe that we can extract high quality ‘hard’ metallurgical coal. This means West Cumbria’s metallurgical coal will be highly regarded by the steel manufacturers.