FIGURE 3.3 The 10 countries reporting the largest amount of proved recoverable reserves in 2002. SOURCE: Data from WEC (2004).

recoverable reserves that were only 46 percent those of the United States—an anomalously low value (WEC, 2004).

It is possible to undertake the academic exercise of dividing the worldwide proved recoverable reserves by the total world coal production for the same year, to obtain about 188 years of production. Although correct mathematically, this number is of little value because it suffers from the same inconsistencies and deficiencies in input parameters as the equivalent calculation for the United States. Like the United States, the world has vast amounts of coal resources, and like the United States, a clear picture of global coal reserves is difficult to ascertain. In part, this is due to strategic concerns about revealing information on domestic energy resources, absence of government recognition of the importance of such information, the lack of trained personnel or funding to carry out such studies, and differences in methodology and terminology.


Federal policy makers require sound coal reserve data to formulate coherent national energy policies. Accurate and complete estimates of national reserves

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