Estimates of world coal reserves vary widely. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, recoverable world reserves of anthracite, bituminous, and subbituminous coal in the late 1990s totaled nearly 1 trillion metric tons. Of this recoverable coal, the U.S. held about 25 percent, Russia 16 percent, China 12 percent, Australia 9 percent, India 8 percent, Germany 7 percent, and South Africa 6 percent.
Coal is found in nearly every region of the world, but deposits of present commercial importance are confined to Eastern Europe and the former USSR, the U.S., China, Western Europe, and Australia.
Great Britain, which led the world in coal production until the 20th century, has deposits in southern Scotland, England, and Wales. In western Europe, important coalfields are found throughout the Alsace region of France, in Belgium, and in the Saar and Ruhr valleys in Germany. Central European deposits include those of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. The most extensive and valuable coalfield in the former Soviet Union is that of the Donets Basin between the Dnepr and Don rivers; large deposits have also been exploited in the Kuznetsk Basin in western Siberia. The coalfields of northwestern China, among the largest in the world, were little developed until the 20th century.
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