Coal is a solid hydrocarbon made up of plant and vegetable matter that has been buried for millions of years and transformed through various chemical changes, heat, and pressure. The main component in coal is carbon. The four classes or grades of coal in Saskatchewan (classed primarily on the basis of the amount of water within it) are: lignitic, sub-bituminous, bituminous, and anthractic. The province has mainly high- quality lignitic coal, which provides low heat value but is environmentally friendly owing to the low percentage of sulphur emitted when it is burned. Lignitic coal found in Saskatchewan typically contains about 35% water. The earliest records of coal mining in Saskatchewan date back to 1857. Since then the industry has grown tremendously, and the province is now the third largest producer of coal in Canada. There are five operating mines in the province, near Estevan, Willowbunch, Wood Mountain and Shaunavon. The Ravenscrag formation in southwestern Saskatchewan is of current interest due to attractive reserves. The province consumes around 90% of the total value mined annually, and exports the remaining coal to Manitoba and Ontario. Over 70% of the province's domestically produced electricity comes from coal used in SPC power stations at Boundary Dam.
Julie L. Parchewski