Coal sampling

  The collection and proper storage and handling of a relatively small quantity of coal for laboratory analysis. Sampling may be done for a wide range of purposes, such as: coal resource exploration and assessment, characterization of their serves or production of a mine, to characterize the results of coal cleaning processes, to monitor coal shipments or receipts for adherence to coal quality contract specifications, or to subject a coal to specific combustion or reactivity tests related to the customer's intended use. During pre-development phases, such as exploration and resource assessment, sampling typically is from natural outcrops, test pits, old or existing mines in the region, drill cuttings, or drilled cores. Characterization of a mine's reserves or production may use sample collection in the mine, representative cuts from coal conveyors or from handling and loading equipment, or directly from stockpiles or shipments (coal rail cars or barges). Contract specifications rely on sampling from the production flow at the mining or coal handling facility or at the loadout, or from the incoming shipments at the receiver's facility. In all cases, the value of a sample taken depends on its being representative of the coal under consideration, which in turn requires that appropriate sampling procedures be carefully followed. For coal resource and estimated reserve characterization, appropriate types of samples include:
  • Face channel or channel sample: a sample taken at the exposed coal in a mine by cutting away any loose or weathered coal then collecting on a clean surface a sample of the coal seam by chopping out a channel of uniform width and depth; a face channel or face sample is taken at or near the working face, the most freshly exposed coal where actual removal and loading of mined coal is taking place. Any partings greater than 3/8 inch and/or mineral concretions greater than 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches in maximum diameter are normally discarded from a channel sample so as better to represent coal that has been mined, crushed, and screened to remove at least gross non-coal materials.
  • Column sample: a channel or drill core sample taken to represent the entire geologic coalbed; it includes all partings and impurities that may exist in the coalbed.
  • Bench sample: a face or channel sample taken of just that contiguous portion of a coalbed that is considered practical to mine, also known as a "bench;" For example, bench samples may be taken of minable coal where impure coal that makes up part of the geologic coalbed is likely to be left in the mine, or where thick partings split the coal into two or more distinct minable seams, or where extremely thick coalbeds cannot be recovered by normal mining equipment, so that the coal is mined in multiple passes, or benches, usually defined along natural bedding planes.
  • Composite sample: a recombined coalbed sample produced by averaging together thickness-weighted coal analyses from partial samples of the coalbed, such as from one or more bench samples, from one or more mine exposures or outcrops where the entire bed could not be accessed in one sample, or from multiple drill cores that were required to retrieve all local sections of a coal seam.
  U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Administration's Energy Glossary

Energy terms . 2014.

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