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Coal Availability Studies in Illinois - A Summary of Results for a 10-Year Program



Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign, IL.


     Current estimates of original coal resources for Illinois total over 225 billion tons.  Over nearly a decade the ISGS has been part of a program sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey to examine the availability for future mining of major coal seams in the US. The criteria used to define available and restricted resources include rules based on interviews with mining companies and observations of mining practice.  “Available coal” as defined, means that the surface land-use and geologic conditions related to mining the deposit (e.g. thickness, depth, in-place tonnage, stability of bedrock overburden) are comparable with coals currently being mined in the state.

     8 major seams have been examined, the Danville, Jamestown, Herrin, Springfield, Colchester, Dekoven, Davis, and Seelyville Coals, which contain 221 billion tons of original resources.  Of these combined resources, 96 billion tons are identified as available for mining and 7 billion tons as available with potential restrictions that make these resources less desirable for mining.

     Technological factors (geologic conditions and economic parameters such as size of reserve block) are the major restriction to mining, and restrict almost 43% of these combined resources.  Land-use factors (e.g. towns, highways) restrict 5% of the resources.  Whether or not the resources of these coals are ultimately mined is still dependent upon a variety of other factors that were beyond the scope of these studies to assess.