Coal is one of the most widely exploited fossil fuels in world. Coal is one of the key natural resources of Assam. It is estimated that Assam has about 371 million tonnes of coal reserves. Assam coal have high calorific value, low ash content high percentage of sulphur and low oxygen content. On the basis of chemical composition and physical characteristics, Assam coals are classified as the sub-bituminous type.
Assam Coal History:
Coal in Assam was first recorded by British Surveyor Lieutenant Wilcox in year 1825. First coal mining was done by C. A. Bruce in 1828. Initially British authorities were less curious about Assam coal. Popularity of tea cultivation, extension of railway lines and increasing navigation through steamships, increased the demand of coal. The Assam Company, which was involved in tea cultivation, started to extract coal for their own requirement. Then incorporation of Assam Railways and Trading Company in 1881 resulted in opening up of the coal fields of Makum area. So, extensive development of Assam coal fields took place only after 1881. The introduction of coal mining is considered as a landmark in the economic history of Assam. Currently, the mining of coal in Assam is undertaken by the North East Coalfields (Coal India).
Assam Coal Geographical Distribution:
The major coal reserves of Assam are found in two coal belts: the Makum coal fields and the Dilli-Jaipore coal fields. Apart from them, some small deposits of coal also exist in the Karbi Anglong, North Cachar Hills and Dhubri district of Assam.
The Makum coal fields are located in the Dibrugarh district. It is extend over an area 30 km long and 5 km wide. Major mines in Makul coal field are: Namdang, Borgolai, Ledo and Tipong. The Dilli-Jaipore coal fields are located in the Dibrugarh and Sibsagarh districts. These coal fields extend over an area 23 km long and 0.5 km wide. The coal fields of Karbi Anglong district are scattered throughout the hills of the district. There are several coal-bearing areas including Koilajan and Sheelvetta. The coal fields of the North Cachar Hills district are found in an area of about 1.5 sq. km. The coal bearing areas include Khota Arda, Dithor and Garampani. Coal is also found in Singrimari area of Dhubri district of Assam. The coal field extends over an area 1km long and 400 meter wide.