The Stowe Global Coal IndexSM incorporates companies involved in many segments of the global coal industry. Coal is indeed a global industry, with coal mined commercially in over 50 countries and used in over 70. The coal industry is defined and measured in various ways, but essentially comprises the businesses of coal mining (exploration, development, preparation, and marketing), coal transportation (railroads, trucking, barges, ports and terminals), equipment and services (mining and processing equipment, analytical, engineering, and environmental services), and emerging coal technologies (coal-to-liquids, gasification, clean coal, carbon capture and sequestration).
The world currently consumes approximately 4 billion tons of coal per year. Coal is used by a variety of sectors, including power generation, iron and steel production, cement manufacturing, and as a liquid fuel. Coal used in power generation is commonly referred to as steam or thermal coal and product used in metallurgical production is called coking coal.
Approximately 26% of electricity across the world, and 50% of electricity in the United States, is generated by steam coal. Consumption of steam coal is projected to grow by 1.5% per year over the period 2002-2030.
Coal is essential for iron and steel production. Approximately 64% of steel production worldwide comes from iron made in blast furnaces that use coal.
Coal is used as an energy source in cement production. Large amounts of energy are required to produce cement and cement kilns usually consume approximately 1 gram of coal for every 2 grams of cement produced. Coal byproducts such as fly ash are used as supplemental cement in concrete.
Coal is also used in aluminum refineries, paper manufacturing, and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Refined coal tar is used to manufacture chemicals, and ammonia gas recovered from coking coal ovens is used to manufacture agricultural fertilizers, nitric acid and ammonia salts. Coal is also an essential ingredient in the production of specialist products like activated carbon used in water, air, and kidney dialysis filtration systems, carbon fiber, and silicon metals used to make lubricants, water repellents, resins, cosmetics, hair shampoos, and toothpaste.