Coal is the conventional energy which has the largest reserves and covers the widest area in the world. Furthermore, it is also the cheapest energy. At present, coal's recoverable reserves are over 980 billion tons in the world. Judging from the global production capacity at present, the coal resource can be exploited for more than 190 years, while the oil can be exploited for about only 40 years and the natural gas 60 years. If calculated by the same calorific value in line with the international standard, the operation cost of firing natural gas or oil is generally two to three times that of the steam coal. Coal is always the main energy in the world. According to the statistics of BP statistical overview, the global coal output was about 6.2 billion tons in 2006, accounting for 28.4% of the total primary energy consumption in the world.
Since there is a brisk demand for the domestic coal and the coal price sees a long-term upward tendency, the coal industry is facing an excellent development situation. The advantages for the development are mainly as follows: coal has an unshakable foundation among all the energies; industry policies are in favor of the healthy development of the coal industry; the high-speed development of macro-economy provides the possibilities for the coal demand to maintain a sustainable development; the technical innovation provides an impetus for the development of the coal industry. Disadvantages that affect the development of the coal industry are as follows: as to the safety in production, the coal industry still faces a serious situation; policy-related cost increment has been suddenly intensified so that enterprises are facing the pressure of fast rising costs. The coal industry’s development trend is mainly embodied in the following aspects: the coal industry's layout will be optimized; the total amount of coal will be controlled; large-scale coal bases will be built; large-scale coal enterprise groups will be fostered. A great number of domestic coal enterprises have raised funds by listing on the stock market and become bigger and stronger with the assistance of the capital market.
Coal always accounts for two thirds in China’s energy production and consumption. However, in terms of resources and energy consumption, the coal industry still faces a lot of outstanding problems. 1. The average recovery rate of coal resources is low, which results in a large amount of waste. 2. If the raw coal is washed, the processing rate will be low, which is only about 33%. A large amount of raw coal is delivered for a long distance and burnt directly, the resultant of which is that the thermal energy conversion rate is low and the pollution is heavy. 3. The average production efficiency of the coal industry is low and the energy consumption is high. China mostly adopts underground mining while the output of the open-pit mining only accounts for about 5% of the total amount. Mines are usually deep underground and involve a lot of production links so that the energy consumption is quite high, which leads to a difficult management. The serious reality requires the coal industry to set foot on the road of raising the utilization efficiency of energy and resources in order to realize a sustainable development of the coal industry. Technical innovations of resources and energy saving should be conducted vigorously through a transformation of the development concept. The coal industry should spare no efforts to save the energy of more than 80 million tons of standard coal by 2010.