Coal/coke still used in manufacturing new steel


Letter No. 313 | January 20, 2004


In a caption under one of your photos showing mining in Nanty Glo, you state that coal is no longer used in making steel and that it is now made using electric furnaces. That is incorrect. Electric furnaces recycle old steel by melting scrap and reusing it for various products. Raw steel, made from iron ore, still requires coke made from coal.

Not all coal can be used for making coke. The chemistry of the coal determines its coking qualities. Most coking coal today comes from West Virginia. At one time it was said that the coal in Bethlehem's Mine 31 was the best coking coal in the world. I don't know if that's a fact; however, I do know it was very good. It was from the Lower Kittanning or B Seam, as was Webster and Heisley No 1.

Bethlehem also mined B Seam coal in Mine 32, Revloc, Mine 33, and Mine 77 in Brookdale. These coals were mixed with coal from other Bethlehem mines in the "upper seams," Mine 33 C Prime in Ebensburg, Mine 38 D & E in Ehrenfeld, and Mine 78 in Windber.

There are still many tons of mineable coal formerly owned by Bethlehem in the B and E Seams near Cresson, which can be used to make coke. Someday, it may become economically feasible to open a mine and again begin producing coking coal.

Al Gailey




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