Coal is a combustible sedimentary rock that forms when dead plant matter is converted into peat, which then converts into lignite, then sub-bituminous coal, bituminous coal and finally anthracite. The process involves biological and geological processes that take place over millions of years, classifying coal as a fossil fuel. Mining is conducted at surface or underground in 25 states, with the majority of coal produced west of the Mississippi. The US is the third largest coal producer in the world, behind China and India.
Once coal is removed from the mine it is sent to a Coal Preparation Plant where the coal is washed of soil and rock, crushed and stockpiled for transport to market. Coal Preparation Plants use conveyor belts and other handling equipment to move the coal material between processes and load rail cars.
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