Understanding Coal and Its Importance for Life

Definition of Coal – At first glance, when you hear the word coal, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is steam-powered electric fuel. But do we really know what coal is?

As Indonesian citizens, we need to be grateful for living in a country that is rich in natural resources. One of the largest natural resources of Indonesia is coal. This country has had millions or even more tons of coal for hundreds of years and will not run out for up to seven of your derivatives, alias for the next decades.

But does that mean you don’t need to worry about the mining industry anymore? Before concluding, consider the following review to get to know more about what coal really is and how beneficial it is for our lives today.

What is Coal? Definition of Coal

How Does Coal Occur?

1. Biochemical Stage

Hundreds of years ago, the trees in the forest were dead and buried in the ground, slowly turning into peat. This is the first process called the biochemical stage where the dead plant begins to turn into lignite. In this process changes in water content, oxidation and other biological processes occur. at this stage the plant decomposes which eventually forms peat.

2. Geochemical Stage

Furthermore, this geochemical stage peat slowly becomes fossilized and continues to experience pressure and warming temperatures. This process causes plant fossils to sink which form organic sediments and produce bituminous. At a longer time, several coal seams also form anthracite, which has the least texture and water content among other types of coal.

This long process of coal formation produces many different types of coal. This makes coal have several classes which ultimately differentiate the current price of coal.

Types of Coal

1. Peats

Peat or peat is an early form of coal formation which has the highest water mineral content, namely 75% compared to other types. This type can be used for fuel. Peat or peat is a very effective absorbent of oil.

2. Lignite

This type of lignite is a coal that has a lower water mineral content than peat, which is 35% to 37%. The texture of lignite coal is quite soft, and is often found as fuel for steam-powered electricity.

3. Bituminous

This type of bitumen or bituminous is a very dense black or brown coal. This stone has a water mineral content of only 8% to 10%, with a carbon content as high as 68% to 86%. This type is most often used as a steam power plant, as well as thermal power generation in the industrial sector.

4. Anthracite

This type of anthracite occupies the highest coal caste which has a much more glossy and black texture. Anthracite has a water content of less than 8% and a carbon content of 86% to 98%. So that anthracite is most often used for heat generation in electronic equipment such as space heaters.

Coal Gas Change Process

However, this coal has other content, namely sulfur and nitrogen. When coal is burned, there will be chemicals in the form of nitrogen and sulfur floating in the air and becoming pollutants.

There are times when these chemicals combine with water vapor and drip onto the earth’s surface as acid rain, because there are high levels of sulfuric and nitric acid compounds. That is why the smoke from burning coal can have a bad impact on the environment.

Coal in Indonesia

Even though there are thousands of tons of coal all over the world, there is always a possibility that if this resource continues to be used it will eventually run out. In Indonesia, the largest coal-producing mining areas are in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

You may have heard of various large coal mining basins in several areas in Kalimantan. This coal mine is under the auspices of many Indonesian-owned coal companies.

To get coal, miners have to dig the ground with large digging tools. This is because the location of coal which is underground and buried for millions of years causes coal to be buried and difficult to obtain without the help of tools.

So, shouldn’t we be progressive because we have so many coal mines and companies? The answer is no. This is because the Indonesian state has not been able to build a factory that can process this fuel.

To set up a coal processing factory, it still creates many problems and conflicts around permits and also environmental pollution. Another factor that further narrows the possibility of having a coal processing plant is that to heat coal, we need help from nuclear power, which is very risky in Indonesia.

Therefore, coal which will be processed in large quantities will be exported abroad to be processed and used to generate electricity.

When it comes to permits and law, of course a big business like a coal mining company has risks and is also full of pros and cons. On the one hand, the coal business can play an important role in increasing the country’s foreign exchange and being the main source of livelihood for its tens of thousands of employees there.

However, from an ecosystem point of view, the coal business can have a negative impact on the environment due to waste and pollution. So in the following book, we will describe what legal procedures and solutions to this problem look like.

Coal Exporting Countries

1. China

as a developed country that has the largest plains in Asia, China’s bamboo curtain country has been a distant coal supplier since decades ago. China itself is one of the countries with the largest energy use, because of the large human population living above the Chinese plains. This country produces at least 3.55 billion tons of coal annually. Even though it has become the country’s largest producer, it is also very consumptive of this one resource.

2. India

With coal production of 771 million tonnes annually, India is second only to China as the world’s largest coal exporter. India is a country that is also very consumptive and depends on coal as a power source.

United States of America

Uncle Sam’s country has entered the ranks of the third largest coal producer in the world. America produces 685 million tonnes of coal annually.

3. Indonesian

in fourth place is occupied by Indonesia, which globally is the largest coal producer. Indonesia was able to mine 549 million tons of coal in 2018. However, this figure is not as big as Indonesia’s coal production in 2005 to 2010.


Indonesia’s neighboring country, Australia, has also been the largest coal producer since decades ago. In Australia there are at least 483 million tons of coal dredged from the land each year.

Benefits of Coal for Our Lives

1. Power Generation

Coal is an optional fuel for power plants. In several countries such as India, China, Japan, Australia and Indonesia themselves use coal as a power plant.

2. Gas Products

Coal is known to be able to produce high natural gas. This gas content will often be processed in mining and become a gas product. Gas products derived from coal are industrial fuels, hydrogen, power plants and also diesel.

3.Forming Aluminum Products

The gases from the coal and coke heat can help separate the steel product that produces aluminum. So that indirectly coal helps the process of forming aluminum which is currently often used and is part of the home industry.

4. Helping the Steel Forming Process

Same with aluminum, gas from coal has a major influence on the process of forming steel which is so important in our lives today. In all places, of course, we can find the function of steel among tall buildings, means of transportation and much more.

5. Cement Production

Even though it is not one of the materials, the presence of coal is still needed by cement companies as one of the ingredients for making cement. So that this coal still provides many benefits

6. Produce Other Minerals

Leftover coal fuel can also produce naphthalenes and phenols. Naphthalene is a mineral compound used to produce plastics, resins and insecticides. Meanwhile, phenol is an ingredient in drugs or cleaning fluids and mouthwashes.

7. Help Fertilizer Production

The process of making chemical fertilizers cannot be separated from coal. To produce a chemical fertilizer, it requires a special gas for the fertilizer combustion process. This gas will later be extracted from the coal.

8. Helping the Paper Industry

In this case, the paper industry needs coal as fuel for its paper-making machines. This is because coal is known to have a stable and effective heat temperature to be used as engine fuel.

9. Helping household needs

Who would have thought that the role of coal in this era can be felt and seen directly. For household needs, coal is used as a heat generator for several electronic devices such as space heaters and electronic cooking utensils. The benefits of coal certainly make some of our daily needs met.

Negative Impact of Coal

Seeing its big role, it does not mean that coal cannot have a negative impact. These mineral resources can be the most effective fuel for power plants, electronic equipment and also vehicle fuel.

However, coal also has negative impacts such as causing huge air pollution in PLTU (Steam Power Plant) factories. Factory waste that uses materials from coal can also pollute the environment. Moreover, the non-regenerative nature of coal causes an increased opportunity for waste and waste from coal.

In some areas where there are factories that process coal, they also experience the effects of environmental pollution, ecosystems and experience health problems. Because the chemical compounds and heat contained in coal can also cause health problems if they enter the human body. For a long time it can cause more serious problems.

Already Know the Definition and Benefits of Coal?

From the review above, we are more familiar with the process and benefits of coal. Judging from the lengthy process and the many benefits, it is not surprising that many developed countries need coal as their resource.

The large amount of coal owned by Indonesia has also made this country one of the largest coal exporters in the world. However, the higher demand for coal will also make the former coal mining basins larger in the plains of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

In addition, although coal is useful, it also has a negative impact on our environment if it is used in large quantities and for a long time. So the best thing we can do as a modern society is to reduce and save resources in order to reduce environmental pollution caused by the coal production process.

One way to prevent it is to use resources such as electricity and heating devices sparingly. So that no power is wasted, and there is no excessive pollution due to the coal burning process.

For those of you who are interested in the world of coal mining, then you can also read the following reference books to add to your knowledge about coal. Also check out other books only at Sinaumedia.