Most coal plants grind coal into dust then BLOW the fines over a standing gas or oil fire to create a huge blowtorch of burning coal dust.. this burning mix has plenty of excess air so the volitiles get burnt and only fly ash remains. So it makes sense that the culm piles are being reclaimed,
Is that cheaper then mining "good coal"? They strip mine and deep mine here. Theres atlest 3 strip mines with in 10 minutes of me. Maple ridge Hoversville and Seanor. I have no idea how many deep mines. The area is riddled with old mines.
Down the road the old timers talk about a mine in Blough that rane mules in the mine.
I've taken fines and mixed with wood glue and water, made paddies, let dry. They burn fine but time consuming. If I have a bunch of fines I try to mix with the chunks or stack them on one side in the fire box.
I used to bag the fines in paper bags, roll 'em up like small logs, and add to the fire.. the 'logs would not block the airflow through the fire like the loose fines.. I'd have to go in and break up the 'log' after an hour or two.