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The growth in coal use in recent years and projections for the future indicate need for an expansion in coal-producing capacity over the next several decades to 3-6 times the present output. Each of the mines contributing to this future production will require the identification and commitment of coal reserves in the ground equal to 30-60 times its annual output. Because of more stringent regulations on quality, especially with regard to sulfur content, large areas will be removed from prime consideration as mine sites until effective means of sulfur-emission control are in use. As a result, future coal exploration efforts will involve, in addition to the determination of quantities, thickness, minability, and heat content of coal deposits, a much more careful analysis an consideration of the chemical makeup and the washability characteristics of each deposit being explored.
Future exploration will be devoted not only to the identification of new sources to meet the growing needs for coal and to replace the reserves being worked out, but also to provide substitute sources for mines now producing coal ruled unsuitable because of its sulfur content. On the basis of published projections, the need for reserves to support new coal mines to supply demand from now to the year 2000 will total somewhere between 60 and 100 billion tons. The lower estimate is based on conventional uses, in which sulfur content has become an increasingly important factor. The higher estimate would provide coal for gasification and liquefaction plants in which sulfur content is less critical. Based on average thickness of coal currently being mined, between 12 and 22 million acres wi l undergo extensive exploration to provide these reserves.
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