I recently read a post that was rather concerning, basically it was saying don't buy coal from this plant. Now out of ethics, I will not recite the coal company mentioned because to be honest with you, I thought maybe it was a disgruntled worker who had lost his job, or some other personal reason. Now I can understand that coal from different areas of the country, state, geographical area are going to be quite different, but wouldn't that apply to a seam of coal as well? This company was located right in the heart of Notheastern PA coal country, so I would think its quality would not be worse then any other company from that general area. Now I can see if it was from the lower portion of the semi-anthracite region, but its not.
In reading up on the subject, The State of Kentucky explains how landowners can determine how much coal is on their land by knowing the depth of the coal seam. In that States case, they mentioned coal seams of 5-6 feet. Now they had thicker ones than that, and while I have never been inside a coal mine, much less struck a pick into a seam, it would seem to me (no pun intended), that with such a shallow depth, it is conceivable that a bunch of that coal would be on the fringes of that coal seam and would contain lower quality coal. This boggles my mind as the only coal seam I have seen in person was out in Wyoming and averaged 90 feet thick. I could see where that coal...while inferior to anthracite...would be more consistent.
Now I buy coal by the bag, and not in a mass quantity, so I see a broad spectrum of coal quality. Some of the bags I get have nice white ash, while others have red ash. I have also seen a lot of wood chunks in with the coal...and this has all been from the same company. I have not been upset by any of it, it burns nicely in my hand fed coal stove and I am warm. I am just passing the difference in quality off as changes in a changing medium...coal gathered along the edges of the seam, coal reclaimed from someplace near some wooden structure, a seam of iron running through that part of the coal, etc, etc, etc.
Who is right here?
Am I right to expect changes in coal since I buy it in small quantities and thus get my coal over a broad spectrum of the same coal company's coal reserves? Or am I missing something and I should expect linear results from the same coal company because that region has consistent coal? Am I just silly to buy coal in such a way and if I was smart, just buy a large order to get a better comparison?
I know when I visited the Jack Daniels distillery they tap multiple kegs to give each fifth of whiskey the same, consistent flavor and color, but if you want to pony up the cash, for 9 grand you can buy an entire barrel of whiskey and find that it is unique to that one barrel in flavor, proof and color. I would think the same idea applies to coal mining. I might buy 10 tons of coal this year that has red ash in it because that moments mining contained a vein of iron ore in the coal, where as if I place another order from the same mine a year later, the coal would produce white ash?
I guess what I am saying is; wouldn't the coal quality vary no matter what mine it came out of? Do we really have any right to say one coal company's coal sucks over that of another coal company's coal?
(And why am I so wordy when this is simple coal we are talking about? And if I am warm, why am I so concerned with this? Why am I speaking out loud my primitive thoughts?