The global market for lignite mining is influenced by the increased need for energy and the rising prices of various energy production resources. Also, with the development taking place in the economies such as India and China, the demand for energy will rise, thereby, increasing the price of energy and its resources. This rise in price tends to shift the interest of industries towards other resources of energy. Recently, countries such as Germany has stopped its nuclear power generation business and switched to other electricity generating resources. AWE AG, a German electric utility company has ramped up coal use to generate electricity from lignite and, according to Bloomberg Businessweek; presently the firm generates about 52% of power in Germany. Henceforth, the global market for lignite mining is expected to grow with the rising energy prices and nuclear hazard concerns.
Lignite coal is mostly used as a fuel, in steam to electric power generation units. The presence of high content of volatile matter makes it easier to convert coal into gases and liquid petroleum products. Moreover, lignite is more accessible than other coals as the location of lignite veins are relatively nearer to the surface. This eliminates the need of underground mining and the risk of carbon monoxide or methane buildup, which is a primary safety concern in underground mining. Due to low energy density and high moisture content, lignite is often burned in power plants, near to the mines. Lignite is a major source of electricity in many countries and also reduces the import liabilities of countries with large production capability. Renewable sources of energy are being promoted by government, but the proportion of coal in world’s energy basket is difficult to replace by renewable resources in near future, due to their high initial investment or lack of technologies with many countries. However, lignite mining also involves risks such as collapse of sloped earthen walls after heavy rains. The occurrence of such incident is rare due to the development of constant monitoring system, which helps to forecast the weather effect on mining conditions. The most common accidents in lignite mining industry are related to the maintenance and operations of heavy equipment used in the industry.
Coal to liquid (CTL) technologies provides a huge scope for lignite mining market. Coal to liquid (CTL) technology is used in many countries, including, South Africa with some under way projects in China, Philippines and India.
Lignite mining market can be segmented on the basis of end use as: electricity generation, fertilizer based production and synthetic natural gas generation. Electricity generation consumes more than half of the world’s lignite coal production.
Geographically, Lignite mining market can be segmented as: North America, APAC, Europe and Rest of the world (RoW). Among these, Europe has the largest lignite coal reserves in the world. In 2011, 1041 Metric Tons of lignite/brown coal was produced with majority of the share from Germany, followed by China and Russia. Some of the world’s main lignite mines and deposits are found in eastern, central and southern Europe –Serbia, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Bosnia, Italy, Turkey and Russia. In North America, primarily the mid-western and southern states, including Montana, Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota and Mississippi, have lignite deposits. In Asia; China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan are major producers.
Some of the major players in Lignite mining market include SRK Consulting, ZEMAG Maschinenbau GmbH, Joy Global Surface Mining, Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited, Environmental Clean Technologies Limited and RWE.
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