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Coal Assessments

Coal Assessments Methodologies

Coal Assessment Basin Methodologies - 2012 to Present:

  • Powder River Basin coal assessment methodology
  • Greater Green River Basin coal assessment methodology

An External Peer Review of the U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resource Program’s Economically Recoverable Coal Resource Assessment Methodology – Report and Comments: Open-File Report 2005-1076

The methodology utilized by the U.S. Coal Resources and Reserves Assessment Project can be divided into three distinct phases – data collection, data modeling, and calculation of resources and reserves. A generalized outline of the methodology utilized is shown below: 

Phase I: Data collection 

1. geologic–drill holes, measured sections, geophysical data – that show coal bed thicknesses, partings, interburden/overburden lithologies, or structure. 

2. restrictions–data that define factors that affect extraction of coal – environmental, land use, legal, and/or technical restrictions. 

3. societal–data defining state, county, and municipal boundaries, surface property ownership and usage, and coal and other mineral estate ownership. 

4. coal quality–data points that provide information on coal quality parameters. 

5. coal economics–data on coal market prices and costs related to equipment, operations, and facilities. 

Phase II: Data modeling 

1. correlation–establishing the stratigraphic position and lateral continuity of individual coal beds within the assessment area. 

2. geologic models–incorporate the available geologic data, correlations, and structural features for each coal bed into a geologic model. Determine which coal beds have the thickness, extent, and lateral continuity to be designated as significant–for resources and reserves calculation purposes. 

3. GIS models-utilize GIS capabilities to model restrictions and societal data to determine areas where coal extraction is not possible. 

4. Composite model–combine geologic and GIS models to produce a composite model of the geology, restrictions, and societal features. 

Phase III: Calculating resources and reserves 

1. resources calculations-use composite model to: a. calculate original resources for all significant coal beds b. calculate recoverable resources for all significant coal beds 

2. projected mine costs-utilize coal economics data to develop mining costs through economic studies. 

3. cost curve graphs-utilize estimated mining costs and coal market pricing data to generate cost curve graphs. 

4. reserves determination-interpreted from the cost curve graphs for all significant coal beds.



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