Mineralogy and geochemistry of boehmite-rich coals: New insights from the Haerwusu Surface Mine, Jungar Coalfield, Inner Mongolia, China

Shifeng Dai, Dan Li, Chen-Lin Chou, Lei Zhao, Yong Zhang, Deyi Y. Ren, Yuwen Ma, Yingying Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Boehmite-rich coal of Pennsylvanian age was discovered earlier at the Heidaigou Surface Mine, Jungar Coalfield, Inner Mongolia, China. This paper reports new results on 29 bench samples of the no. 6 coal from a drill core from the adjacent Haerwusu Surface Mine, and provides new insights into the origin of the minerals and elements present. The results show that the proportion of inertinite in the no. 6 coal is higher than in other Late Paleozoic coals in northern China. Based on mineral proportions (boehmite to kaolinite ratio) and major element concentrations in the coal benches of the drill core, the no. 6 coal may be divided into five sections (I to V). Major minerals in Sections I and V are kaolinite. Sections II and IV are mainly kaolinite with a trace of boehmite, and Section III is high in boehmite. The boehmite is derived from bauxite in the weathered surface (Benxi Formation) in the sediment-source region. The no. 6 coal is rich in Al 2O 3 (8.89%), TiO 2 (0.47%), Li (116 μg/g), F (286 μg/g), Ga (18 μg/g), Se (6.1 μg/g), Sr (350 μg/g), Zr (268 μg/g), REEs (172 μg/g), Pb (30 μg/g), and Th (17 μg/g). The elements are classified into five associations by cluster analysis, i.e. Groups A, B, C, D, and E. Group A (ash-SiO 2-Al 2O 3-Na 2O-Li) and Group B (REE-Sc-In-Y-K 2O-Rb-Zr-Hf-Cs-U-P 2O 5-Sr-Ba-Ge) are strongly correlated with ash yield and mainly have an inorganic affinity. The elements that are negatively or less strongly correlated with ash yield (with exceptions of Fe 2O 3, Be, V, and Ni) are grouped in the remaining three associations: Group C, Se-Pb-Hg-Th-TiO 2-Bi-Nb-Ta-Cd-Sn; Group D, Co-Mo-Tl-Be-Ni-Sb-MgO-Re-Ga-W-Zn-V-Cr-F-Cu; and Group E, S-As-CaO-MnO-Fe 2O 3. Aluminum is mainly distributed in boehmite, followed by kaolinite. The high correlation coefficients of the Li-ash, Li-Al 2O 3, and Li-SiO 2 pairs indicate that Li is related to the aluminosilicates in the coal. The boehmite-rich coal is high in gallium and F, which occur in boehmite and the organic matter. Selenium and Pb are mainly in epigenetic clausthalite fillings in fractures. The abundant rare earth elements in the coal benches were supplied from two sources: the bauxite on the weathered surface of the Benxi Formation and from adjacent partings by groundwater leaching during diagenesis. The light rare earth elements (LREEs) are more easily leached from the partings and incorporated into the organic matter than the heavy REEs, leading to a higher ratio of LREEs to HREEs in the coal benches than in the overlying partings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-202
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 7 2008


  • ISGS
  • Jungar Coalfield
  • Trace elements in coal
  • Coal
  • Boehmite
  • Minerals in coal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economic Geology
  • Geology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Stratigraphy


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