Top 5 countries with the largest coal reserves in the world

Coal is a valuable energy source, and it has remained this way for years. All thanks to its combustible properties. Like fossil fuel, it is one of the cheapest options available for most countries worldwide. So, the world uses it as primary energy and fights for its electricity. Here is the list of the top five countries with the largest coal reserves in the world.

countries with the largest coal reserves in the world

As it remains the primary energy source for power, governments are imposing a set of rules to regulate coal mining and its related attributes. Due to these restrictions, some countries, such as North American countries, produce coal at massive levels while the others, like some Asian countries, struggle to provide sufficient electricity to their everyday growing population. 

And this guide looks at the facts surrounding the coal mining collected from all the major countries of the world possessing central coal reserves and the major production rate. The highlights of this guide are 

List of Countries By Coal Reserves

Five countries hold some of the most significant coal reserves in the world. And, here are those countries based on it. 

The United States Of America- 

The United States owns some of the world’s most enormous coal mining reserves, estimated to be around 250.2 billion, with 23% of the global coal reserve by country. However, the stats contained by DRB, January 2021, states that the total coal reserves of the USA can meet around 472 billion short tons.

The United States of America contains an immense amount of coal, with a Demonstrated Reserve Base (DRB) estimated at 471 billion short tons. Of this, 69% is underground mineable coal. However, when factoring in the accessibility constraints and recovery factors of the current mining technology, only an estimated 251 billion short tons are assessed as recoverable reserves – 58% of which can be mined from underground.

But because of the property and land rights, disputes, physical and other environmental factors dominate these stats, which estimate that only 53% of the DRM will be accessible for mining and contain energy. So, due to the other factors, not all the coal sites can be accessed.


Second in the line is Russia, which owns around 160,364 tons of proven coal reserves as of now, making it the world’s 2nd largest owner of 16% of the coal reserves in the world. The total coal reserve contains 69,634 tons of anthracite & bituminous and 30,052 of subbituminous & lignite. However, the number of total coal reserves can be much different, but due to environmental and physical factors, Russia’s entire coal reserve stands at 160,364 tons to this day. 


With almost 14% of the world’s coal reserves, Australia secures third place in this list of countries by coal reserves. The total proven number of Australia’s coal reserves is 147,435 tons, of which 70,927 of anthracite & bituminous and 76,508 of subbituminous & lignite make up 14 %. Coal is also Australia’s second largest export commodity. The number of coal reserves is also affected by the physical and environmental factors, so the actual number of the coal reserve is not available except for the usable number of 147,435.


China covers 13% of the world coal reserve with 138,819 tons of coal. The total reserve contains the 130,851 of anthracite & bituminous and 7968 of the subbituminous & lignite

China produces and consumes the world’s largest amount of coal energy. According to a survey in 2019, it is the world’s top market for coal production with this number of reserves. But, China generates most of its electricity from coal, which dominates the coal production and export. The Chinese government is taking necessary steps to alleviate China’s reliance on coal, so China may export coal on larger levels in the future. 


India has the 5th largest coal reserves in the world and in this list of countries by coal reserves with 101,363 tons and 10% of the total world’s coal reserve. The total coal reserve sums 96,468 of anthracite & bituminous and 4,895 of subbituminous & lignite. India is also the world’s largest consumer and exporter of coal, along with China. The environment and physical factors of India affect their coal reserves. However, the Indian government is taking a boost to the domestic production of the coal and reducing its reliance on the coal so that it can produce a larger number than it consumes. 

State Wise Analysis- Largest coal reserves by country

After the world’s reserve, it becomes essential to know the largest coal reserve by country. This can be done in two ways: counting the coal reserve per state or the total coal reserves. The article has already covered the total coal reserves in these 5 countries. Now, it will go through the coal reserves by cities to determine the largest coal reserves by country. 

The United States- 

The Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, the Appalachian Basin, and the Illinois Basin are the three areas that produce the most coal. Additionally, about three-quarters of the nation’s coal production was produced in five states: Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Wyoming produced 375.8 million short tonnes of coal or 42 percent of all the coal produced in the United States. West Virginia produced 95.6 million short tonnes of coal or 11 percent. Kentucky came in third with 61.4 million short tonnes or 7 percent. 


The Kuznetsk and Kansk-Achinsk basins contain the majority of Russia’s coal reserves. The Donetsk reserves in Moscow, the Pechora basins in Western Russia, and the Kuznetski, Kansk-Achinsk, Irkutsk, and South Yakutsk basins in Eastern Russia are some of the most significant deposits in Russia.

Hard coal makes up more than two-thirds of the coal produced in Russia, with the central hard coal reserves being in the Pechora and Kuznetsk basins, making them the essential and largest coal reserves by country. Massive sub-bituminous coal resources are found in the Kansk-Achinsk Basin, and the Raspadskaya mine in the Kemerovo region is the biggest coal mine in Russia.


Either premium bituminous coal or inferior lignite is produced in Australia. Bituminous coal is mined in Queensland and New South Wales and is used for industrial boilers, export, and domestic power generation.

Due to a lower thermal value, lignite is mined in Victoria and South Australia, which is of inferior quality. To utilize the lignite reserves of the Latrobe Valley, Victoria embraced German power station and briquette technologies in the 1920s. Baseload power generation in 2013 uses coal from three open-cut lignite mines in Victoria.


Haerwusu in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region is home to China’s largest open-pit coal mine. In the fourth quarter of 2008, it began to produce coal, with a projected output of 7 million tonnes. It will run for roughly 79 years and have an annual capacity of 20 million tonnes of crude coal. About 1.73 billion tonnes of coal are in its reserves. Additionally, production at mines in Inner Mongolia is increasing quickly; in 2009, 637 million tonnes were produced there.


In India, the state-wise geographical coal reserves go with Jharkhand holding the first place with an estimated over 45563 tons, followed by Odisha with 37391 tons of coal reserve, and third is Chhattisgarh with 20428 tons of coal. These states can have more coal than expected, and the Indian government is trying to find the solutions to bring it out. After Chhattisgarh, other states on the list are West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar. 

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World coal reserve by country

It is time to look at the bigger picture along with these five countries. And here is a short list of every world coal reserve by country

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Along with the US,Russia, China, and India other countries like Germany, Indonesia, Ukraine, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Turkey also hold a significant amount of  the world coal reserve as shown in the chart of World coal reserve by country. 

Coal reserve by country 2020 & Coal reserve by country 2021

When comparing these two stats of coal reserve by country 2020 and coal reserve by country 2021, there is no good news. As coal production drastically failed to keep the demand in 2021. In some countries, coal reserves have plummeted. They cannot provide the necessary supply to their population. In China and India, coal shortages led to power cuts and idled industries. The countries tried to meet production to demand with the help of domestic policies. However, the results were not satisfactory. 

The case is not just with the Asian countries. It is also for the USA and European countries. The USA’s coal reserve has declined almost double the time in 2021 that it was in 2020. The provided coal reserve the USA had in 2020 was 535 million short tons, which will decrease by 24% in 2021. USA’s perverseness and Virginia mines are set to be permanently closed to this shortage. 

The situation is current for every coal country in the world. The following graph elaborates on the coal starts for coal reserve by country 2020 & coal reserve by country 2021

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Future of global coal reserve by the country for upcoming years

The upcoming trend of the coal industry is gradually and slowly shifting to the Asian countries. As expected, Asia will quickly grow in the upcoming decades. According to the estimates, China is set to rule the global coal reserve by country category for the future with estimated 3982 Mt coal production, while the USA may slip down on the fourth slot with 482 mt of coal reserve by country 2020 and Coal reserve by country 2021 may not support the fact, but the country has invested in new mining techniques to change the stats. And India is set to make its way to number two with the help of its policies and may produce an estimated 955 Mt of coal.

However, as the number of coal production increases, the resulting world will lose a large number of its coal reserves which is now 1156 billion short tons. The coal shortage will affect every global coal reserve by country. It is something bound to happen.

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