Coal underlies 60-70 percent of Illinois' 37,000 square miles and is part of a geologic structure known as the Illinois Basin. This basin extends into western Kentucky and southwestern Indiana. Most of the coal in Illinois is bituminous with high-energy values. The seams are four to eight feet thick and usually found between 200 and 900 feet below ground in Pennsylvanian age bedrock. This resource has yielded several billion tons of coal since the first recorded mining in 1810. The recoverable coal reserve remaining in Illinois is estimated to be about 38 billion tons. This reserve accounts for almost one-eighth of the total U.S. coal reserves and one-quarter of the nation's bituminous coal reserves.
Illinois has historically been one of the larger coal producing states in the nation. Industrial-scale coal recovery began in the 1890s. Historically, the vast majority of Illinois' coal production has been from underground mines. Surface coal mining became significant in the 1920s. In 1995, approximately 85 percent of Illinois coal production was from underground mines. By 2000, the figure was 88 percent and dropped to 81 percent by 2007, but rose again to 87 percent by 2012. With several new coal mines continuing to come on line in recent years, Illinois continues to prepare for its increase in production. Production has gone from 31 million tons in 2009 to 47 million tons in 2012.
More than 80 percent of Illinois' coal production is purchased by the electric utility industry. Industrial, residential, and commercial users account for the remaining 20 percent. Roughly 85 percent of Illinois coal is sold to out-of-state utilities. Because Illinois coal is relatively high in sulfur, most of the electric utilities burn a combination of local coal and out-of-state, lower sulfur coal to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.
Regulation and Reclamation
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Mines and Minerals, Land Reclamation Division, has responsibility for SMCRA activities related to active coal mining (Title V) and SMCRA activities related to abandoned coal mines (Title IV) in the State of Illinois.
The Title V program ensures that coal mining operations properly reclaim the active mine sites, thereby assuring the restoration of lands for productive uses. They also ensure the repair of land that becomes damaged as a result of mine subsidence from active underground coal mining. The Division issues all coal mining permits for the State while involving concerned citizens in the permitting process.
Illinois grant reports and related documents are contained in the official grant file maintained at the:
501 Belle Street, Suite 215
Alton, IL 62002
Telephone: (618) 463-6460
Fax: (618) 463-6470
They can be reviewed during normal business hours. Alternatively, these documents can be requested through the Alton Field Division and a copy of the grant file will be made available. The copy may be requested in paper or electronic format.
What is Oversight?
OSMRE defines "oversight", as the "process of evaluating and assisting states [and tribes] in the administration, implementation, and maintenance of approved programs. In collaboration with each state/tribe, OSMRE develops a Performance Agreement/Evaluation Plan tailored to the unique conditions of each state/tribe program. Performance Agreements/Evaluation Plans between OSM and the states establish how oversight is conducted during each evaluation year.
Learn more about OSMRE's National Oversight Program.
To view oversight documents visit, OSMRE's REG-8 Oversight Database: