Vietnam's coal industry is diverse and highly regarded for its quality, making it suitable for energy production.

1. Coal reserves in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the three countries with Southeast Asia's largest exploitable coal reserves, along with Indonesia (34.87 billion tons) and Thailand (1.06 billion tons).


Despite lacking precise figures, reputable domestic and international organizations have provided various estimates:

- According to the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), Vietnam possesses vast coal reserves, estimated at around 50 billion tons, with approximately 3.7 billion tons deemed exploitable. These reserves are predominantly concentrated in the Northeastern and Red River coal basins, with about 400 million tons in other provinces.

- According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the United States, Vietnam's coal reserves amount to 165 million tons, while the BP Group estimates this figure to be around 150 million tons.

Key coal mining areas in Vietnam include Quang Ninh, the Red River Delta, Thai Nguyen, Bac Kan, Da River, and Ca River. Quang Ninh alone holds nearly 90% of the country's coal mining.


2. Major Coal Basins in Vietnam

2.1 Quang Ninh Coal Basin

Quang Ninh, a coastal province in northeastern Vietnam with an area of 6,110.1 square kilometers, is rich in coal resources and serves as the primary coal mining location in the country. With approximately 10.5 billion tons of coal reserves, of which 3.5 billion tons have been explored (accounting for about 67% of the country's current coal mining reserves), Quang Ninh has been a significant coal mining area for nearly a century.


Coal mining in Quang Ninh dates back to 1839, and its proximity to the sea facilitates transportation to international markets, making it a leading coal mining region in Vietnam. The coal in Quang Ninh is primarily anthracite, with a stable carbon content of over 80%, minimal impurities, and high purity, making it clean and of high quality.


Efforts are underway in Quang Ninh to transition to environmentally friendly coal mining practices, aiming for modern, high-yield, and sustainable operations.


2.2 Song Hong Coal Basin

The Red River Delta (or Northern Delta) is the downstream area of the Red River and the Thai Binh River in Northern Vietnam. The Red River Delta comprises 11 provinces and cities, including Hanoi, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Hug Yen, Thai Binh, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, and Ninh Binh.


Considering depths of up to -3,500 meters, the total coal reserves in the Red River Delta are estimated to reach 210 billion tons, mainly bituminous coal, twenty times larger than those in the Quang Ninh basin. About 90% of the coal reserves are concentrated in Thai Binh province. The entire coal basin is divided into 8 seams, with 3 seams in Hung Yen, 4 seams in Thai Binh, and 1 seam in Nam Dinh. Half of the coal seams are exploited using surface mining methods, while the rest are mined underground.

The Red River Delta coal basin primarily consists of sub-bituminous coal and low-energy coals such as lignite and mud coal. Sub-bituminous coal has an energy content of approximately 6000–6200 kcal/kg and a low sulfur content (0.6% S), making it suitable for power generation and metallurgy.


However, the actual exploitable potential of resources and reserves varies significantly. The geological conditions in the Red River Delta coal basin are extremely complex, situated in environmentally and socially sensitive areas with abundant natural and cultural resources, especially water and agricultural land.


3. Types of Coal in Vietnam

Vietnam's coal resources are diverse, but there are five main types: anthracite, bituminous coal, fat coal, brown coal, and mud coal. These coal types are highly regarded for their quality and suitability for energy production.


  • Peat: with reserves of approximately 7 billion cubic meters, covering an area of 36,000 hectares and scattered in various locations across the country, but primarily located in the Mekong Delta (within the U Minh forest, belonging to Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces) with an area of approximately 24,000 hectares, of which a significant portion is designated as conservation areas, namely the U Minh Thuong and U Minh Ha National Parks.
  • Brown coal: brown coal is mainly distributed in the Red River Delta and along the Ca River in Nghe An province. The total forecasted reserves of brown coal in Vietnam are estimated to be around 210 billion tons over an area of 3,500 square kilometers. However, currently, the mining technologies for the Red River Delta coal basin are still in the research and development stage.
  • Sub-bituminous coal: in the continental part of the Red River coal basin at depths of up to 1700 meters, the reserves reach 36,960 billion tons. Sub-bituminous coal has lower carbon content and heat energy than bituminous coal, typically used in power plants and as fuel in industrial boilers.
  • Bituminous coal: has been discovered in Thai Nguyen, the Da River region, and the Nghe An region with modest reserves, totaling nearly 80 million tons. However, this type of coal is widely used because it has moderate carbon content and produces significant heat, often used in power plants and the metallurgical industry for steel production.
  • Anthracite coal: mainly distributed in the Quang Ninh, Thai Nguyen, Da River, and Nong Son coal basins with total reserves exceeding 18 billion tons. The Quang Ninh coal basin is the largest with reserves exceeding 3 billion tons.

4. Characteristics and Applications of Vietnamese Anthracite Coal

Vietnam's coal is predominantly anthracite, with a carbon percentage stable at over 80%. It typically has a shiny black color, few visible pores, feels slightly greasy when held, and is challenging to wash. Vietnamese anthracite is regarded as clean, high-quality, and low in impurities. Its purity is over 65%, and its combustion capability has been verified as excellent; when burned, it usually doesn't emit unpleasant odors due to its low sulfur content. Vietnam is also one of the world's major producers of anthracite coal.


Anthracite coal is characterized by its brittleness and hardness, being resistant to various chemical substances and remaining stable in both acidic and alkaline environments.

Calorific value 6900 – 7300 kcal/kg
Carbon content 92.1% – 98%
Volatile matter 3% – 10%
Particle size (R = 0.09mm) 2% – 5%
Ash content 10% – 20%
Moisture content 6% – 12%
Hardgrove index 35 – 55
Ignition temperature 880°C
Smoldering temperature 450°C
Excess pressure at the ignition point 6.3 bar

In water filtration systems, anthracite coal is often used as the final layer. When combined with layers of quartz sand, it traps sediments, sludge, and fine particles, ensuring cleaner, clearer, and safer filtered water.


Anthracite coal is also used as an energy source in coal-fired power plants, metallurgy, and cement production.

5. Vietnam's Coal Industry

The domestic coal industry plays a vital role in the overall economic development and energy production of Vietnam. With advanced technology and competitiveness compared to the region, it meets the basic energy needs of the country, supplying energy to key industries and ensuring national energy security.


Coal is widely used in Vietnam's production and daily life, with a significant share in the industrial sector, serving as fuel and energy for gasification and liquefaction technologies. Vietnam is among the top five economies with the highest coal consumption in Southeast Asia, reflecting the growing demand for coal, particularly in power generation and industrial production, as the country industrializes.


Domestic demand for coal is on the rise, especially for electricity generation and industrial production. This is inevitable for a country that is developing towards industrialization.

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