The four most abundant minerals generally found in Euramerican bituminous coals are quartz, kaolinite, illite and pyrite. These four minerals were isolated by density separation and handpicking from bituminous coal samples collected in the Ruhr Basin, Germany and the Appalachian basin, U.S.A. Trace-element concentrations of relatively pure (??? 99+%) separates of major minerals from these coals were determined directly by using instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA). As expected, quartz contributes little to the trace-element mass balance. Illite generally has higher trace-element concentrations than kaolinite, but, for the concentrates analyzed in this study, Hf, Ta, W, Th and U are in lower concentrations in illite than in kaolinite. Pyrite has higher concentrations of chalcophile elements (e.g., As and Se) and is considerably lower in lithophile elements as compared to kaolinite and illite. Our study provides a direct and sensitive method of determining trace-element relationships with minerals in coal. Mass-balance calculations suggest that the trace-element content of coal can be explained mainly by three major minerals: pyrite, kaolinite and illite. This conclusion indicates that the size and textural relationships of these major coal minerals may be a more important consideration as to whether coal cleaning can effectively remove the most environmentally sensitive trace elements in coal than what trace minerals are present.
Additional publication details
Selected elements in major minerals from bituminous coal as determined by INAA: Implications for removing environmentally sensitive elements from coal