WVGES Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

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Zinc Stratigraphic DistributionZinc Geographic DistributionZinc Summary Statistics

Zinc is a minor trace element in West Virginia coal of no environmental concern.

Geologic Distribution:  Zinc in coal is primarily found in the mineral sphalerite (ZnS) 1. In an unpublished study by the WVGES, sphalerite was found in 4 of 24 samples, indicating that sphalerite is probably rare in West Virginia coals, but common in some midcontinent coals. Zinc in West Virginia coals averaged 14.97 ppm, and statistically correlated slightly with cadmium and poorly with ash yield.  Zinc and cadmium are closely associated in the mineral sphalerite. Coals of the Pocahontas, New River and Kanawha Formations generally contained less than 20 ppm Zn with slightly higher values in Allegheny and Conemaugh group coals.  Coals with elevated (>80 ppm) zinc, mainly the Matewan coal, the Lower, Middle and Upper Kittanning coals, and the Brush Creek coal were primarily high sulfur coals overlain by marine sediments from various locations statewide (see cautionary note page).

Economic Impact: Zinc in coal is of no economic importance.  Zinc is an important metal used in numerous alloys such as brass, bronze, solder, typewriter metal and german silver for example 2.

Environmental Impact: Zn apparently has no deleterious environmental  effects during coal mining and combustion 1.

    1. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    2. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
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