Petrology, mineralogy and geochemistry of mined coals, western Venezuela

International Journal of Coal Geology
By: , and 



Upper Paleocene to middle Miocene coal samples collected from active mines in the western Venezuelan States of Táchira, Mérida and Zulia have been characterized through an integrated geochemical, mineralogical and petrographic investigation. Proximate, ultimate, calorific and forms of sulfur values, major and trace element, vitrinite reflectance, maceral concentrations and mineral matter content have been determined for 16 channel samples from 14 mines. Ash yield generally is low, ranging from < 1 to 17 wt.% (mean = 5 wt.%) on a dry basis (db). Total sulfur content is low to moderate, ranging from 1 to 6 wt.%, db (average = 1.7 wt.%). Calorific value ranges from 25.21 to 37.21 MJ/kg (10,840–16,000 Btu/lb) on a moist, mineral-matter-free basis (average = 33.25 MJ/kg, 14,300 Btu/lb), placing most of the coal samples in the apparent rank classification of high-volatile bituminous. Most of the coal samples exhibit favorable characteristics on the various indices developed to predict combustion and coking behavior and concentrations of possible environmentally sensitive elements (As, Be, Cd, Cr, Co, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Th and U) generally are similar to the concentrations of these elements in most coals of the world, with one or two exceptions. Concentrations of the liptinite maceral group range from < 1% to 70 vol.%. Five samples contain > 20 vol.% liptinite, dominated by the macerals bituminite and sporinite. Collotelinite dominates the vitrinite group; telinite was observed in quantities of ≤ 1 vol.% despite efforts to better quantify this maceral by etching the sample pellets in potassium permanganate and also by exposure in an oxygen plasma chamber. Inertinite group macerals typically represent < 10 vol.% of the coal samples and the highest concentrations of inertinite macerals are found in distantly spaced (> 400 km) upper Paleocene coal samples from opposite sides of Lago de Maracaibo, possibly indicating tectonic controls on subsidence related to construction of the Andean orogen. Values of maximum reflectance of vitrinite in oil (Ro max) range between 0.42% and 0.85% and generally are consistent with the high-volatile bituminous rank classification obtained through ASTM methods. X-ray diffraction analyses of low-temperature ash residues indicate that kaolinite, quartz, illite and pyrite dominate the inorganic fraction of most samples; plagioclase, potassium feldspar, calcite, siderite, ankerite, marcasite, rutile, anatase and apatite are present in minor or trace concentrations. Semiquantitative values of volume percent pyrite content show a strong correlation with pyritic sulfur and some sulfide-hosted trace element concentrations (As and Hg). This work provides a modern quality dataset for the western Venezuela coal deposits currently being exploited and will serve as the foundation for an ongoing coal quality research program in Venezuela.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Petrology, mineralogy and geochemistry of mined coals, western Venezuela
Series title International Journal of Coal Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.coal.2005.02.006
Volume 63
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Description 30 p.
First page 68
Last page 97
Country Venezuela