About 90 per cent of the total coal in India is found in the north-eastern part of the Deccan Peninsula. This region includes Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.
The first coal-mine in India, was opened in 1774 at Raniganj (West Bengal), but the actual coal mining began in 1814. At present the total coal production in India is more than 330 million tons. There has been a large scale increase in the production of lignite coal in India, in recent years.
Jharkhand state has the largest reserves and it is the second largest producer of coal in India. The main coalfields are in Jharia, Bokaro, Giridih, Karanpura, Ramgarh, Daltonganj, etc. The Jharia Coalfields are one of the oldest and richest coalfields in India. These are the main source of metallurgical coal in India.
Chhattisgarh-Madhya Pradesh region ranks third in respect of reserves and first in respect of production of coal in India. The important coalfields occur in Rewa, Raigarh, Chhindwara, Bilaspur, Sarguja, Narsinghpur and Betul districts. Singrauli and Korba coalfields are the largest and most of the production is used in generating thermal electricity at Obra and Korba.
Orissa ranks second in respect of reserves and third in respect of coal production in India. Most of the coal reserves are found in the Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, and Sundargarh districts. The Talcher coalfields in Dhenkanal and Sambalpur districts rank second in reserves after Raniganj.
The main coal producing districts in West Bengal are Barddhaman, Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum, Darjiling and Jalpaiguri. Raniganj is the largest coalfield in West Bengal. Most of the coal is used by railways and thermal power plants.
The important coalfields in Andhra Pradesh are in Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam, east Godavari and west Godavari districts. The Singareni coalfields, east of Hyderabad city, is the most important coal mining region. The entire coal is of non-coking variety.
The Tertiary coalfields mainly occur in association with limestone and slates. These coalfields are mostly found in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Assam coal has high coking quality with low ash contents. The high sulphur content makes it unsuitable for metallurgical uses.
The lignite coalfields are located mostly in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Other lignite producing states are Rajasthan, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Puducherry and West Bengal. The famous Neyveli lignite mines are in Tamil Nadu. Most of the lignite coal is used for the generation of electric power. Some production is also used in the chemical and fertilizer industry.