Anthracite, often referred to as hard coal, is a hard, compact variety of coal that has a submetallic luster. It has the highest carbon content, the fewest impurities, and the highest energy density of all types of coal and is the highest ranking of coals.
Anthracite is the most metamorphosed type of coal (but still represents low-grade metamorphism), in which the carbon content is between 92% and 98%. The term is applied to those varieties of coal which do not give off tarry or other hydrocarbon vapours when heated below their point of ignition. Anthracite ignites with difficulty and burns with a short, blue, and smokeless flame.
Anthracite is categorized into standard grade, which is used mainly in power generation, and high grade (HG) and ultra high grade (UHG), the principal uses of which are in the metallurgy sector. Anthracite accounts for about 1% of global coal reserves, and is mined in only a few countries around the world. China accounts for the majority of global production; other producers are Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, South Africa, Vietnam, the UK, Australia, Canada and the US. Total production in 2010 was 670 million tons.
Anthracite derives from the Greekanthrakítēs (ἀνθρακίτης), literally "coal-like". Other terms which refer to anthracite are black coal, hard coal, stone coal,dark coal, coffee coal, blind coal (in Scotland),Kilkenny coal (in Ireland),crow coal or craw coal, and black diamond. "Blue Coal" is the term for a once-popular and trademarked brand of anthracite, mined by the Glen Alden Coal Company in Pennsylvania, and sprayed with a blue dye at the mine before shipping to its northeastern U.S. markets to distinguish it from its competitors.
Culm has different meanings in British and American English. In British English, "culm" is the imperfect anthracite of north Devon and Cornwall, which was used as a pigment. The term is also used to refer to some Carboniferous rock strata found in both Britain and in the Rhenish hill countries (the Culm Measures). Lastly, it may refer to coal exported from Britain during the 19th century. In American English, "culm" refers to the waste or slack from anthracite mining, mostly dust and small pieces not suitable for use in home furnaces.