Why is Coal not a Mineral?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Coal is not classified as a mineral because it is made of dead plants and is not well-defined. Coal does not qualify to be a mineral as it is made up of atoms of elements and is generated from dead plant matter. Minerals are not formed from living things like plants and animals. They are well-defined solid chemical substances that occur naturally in a pure form.

Reason Coal is not a Mineral

Coal is a brownish-black flammable and sedimentary rock that is found in the form of seams. It is mainly made up of carbon with different proportions of elements like hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur. Coal is generated when the dead plant matter decays and is transformed into coal over a million years by the pressure and heat of burial.

The process of coalification involves converting extinct plants into coal. At various points in its geologic history, the Earth has had lush forests in low-lying marsh regions. In these wetlands, coalification started when decaying plant matter was protected from oxidation and biodegradation by mud or acidic water and transformed into peat.

On the other hand, minerals are naturally occurring substances that are formed through geological processes and have a definite chemical composition and a specific crystalline structure. They are typically found in the Earth’s crust and can be mined for their economic value. Examples of minerals include quartz, feldspar, mica, and calcite.


Why is Coal not Classified as a Mineral?

The reason why coal is not classified as a mineral is that coal is made up of atoms generated from dead plants. Unlike minerals, coal does not have a well-defined structure and is mainly made of carbon with other elements in different proportions. Huge peat bogs where the carbon was contained later became covered in sediments. Over millions of years, the heat and pressure of deep burial resulted in the loss of water, methane, and carbon dioxide, and the carbon content increased.

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