The emissions of potentially hazardous trace elements from spontaneous combustion of gob piles from coal mining in Shanxi Province, China, have been studied. More than ninety samples of solid waste from gob piles in Shanxi were collected and the contents of twenty potentially hazardous trace elements (Be, F, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Mo, Cd, Sn, Sb, Hg, Tl, Pb, Th, and U) in these samples were determined. Trace element contents in solid waste samples showed wide ranges. As compared with the upper continental crust, the solid waste samples are significantly enriched in Se (20x) and Tl (12x) and are moderately enriched in F, As, Mo, Sn, Sb, Hg, Th, and U (2-5x). The solid waste samples are depleted in V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, and Zn. The solid waste samples are enriched in F, V, Mn, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sb, Th, and U as compared with the Shanxi coals. Most trace elements are higher in the clinker than in the unburnt solid waste except F, Sn, and Hg. Trace element abundances are related to the ash content and composition of the samples. The content of F is negatively correlated with the ash content, while Pb is positively correlated with the ash. The concentrations of As, Mn, Zn, and Cd are highly positively correlated with Fe2O3 in the solid waste. The As content increases with increasing sulfur content in the solid waste. The trace element emissions are calculated for mass balance. The emission factors of trace elements during the spontaneous combustion of the gobs are determined and the trace element concentrations in the flue gas from the spontaneous combustion of solid waste are calculated. More than a half of F, Se, Hg and Pb are released to the atmosphere during spontaneous combustion. Some trace element concentrations in flue gas are higher than the national emission standards. Thus, gob piles from coal mining pose a serious environmental problem. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.