Coal technologists are concerned with the recovery and utilisation of all forms of coal and its by-products.
They may work in one of the following major areas:
Geology: Coal technologists specialising in geology conduct geological surveys to determine the location, extent and quality of coal deposits. They are closely involved in drilling programmes to determine whether a coalfield can be mined economically. They also decide what the coal can be used for, e.g. electricity generation or gasification for making petroleum products.
Mining: Technologists regularly analyse samples from the coalface and report results to the mine engineer and manager. They determine the presence of methane gas as well as other explosive coal derivatives. They assist in the washing plant and in grading, and provide management with valuable information which can be used to run the mine at a profit.
Coal preparation and processing: This field entails product evaluation, quality control and aspects related to the use of coal in power stations. Technologists are employed by Sasol, the petrochemical and metallurgical industry, as well as in the fields of domestic heating and pollution control.
Coal analysis: Coal technologists evaluate the product in terms of specialised variables and properties. Chemical, analytical and physical tests are performed depending on the nature and application of the product.
Research: This is conducted to determine how the natural resource can best be utilised for the benefit of mankind. These coal technologists continually strive to improve existing techniques and methods in the coal industry.