Currently Belarus doesn't produce any coal - despite the fact it has 1.5 bln metric tons of geological reserves, including 150 mln metric tons of commercial reserves in 3 neighbor deposits located in the southern part of the country.
Due to the fact 100% of the country's thermal power plants use natural gas or fuel oil, they have not had interest in thermal coal mining; however the country's government is thinking how to replace Russia's gas (that becomes more and more expensive each year) with local coal.
In 1Q2010-2012 they launched a $1 bln joint venture with Poland - on construction of 660 MW thermal power plant that has to utilize the Polish coal; they plan to build it not far from the border with Poland - for easy logistics; and another idea that 50% of the electric power generated with that plant to be exported to Poland. In addition to that project they think about 2 more coal-burning power plants - in Brest and Homyel regions; these plants to be supplied with the Polish, Ukrainian and maybe Russian coal.
Thinking about coal use instead of natural gas in energy generation the country's government also wants to develop own coal production; they have a project for 2 mtpa surface mine in one of those 3 large lignite deposits in the Southern Belarus; Zhitkovichi lignite deposit has commercial reserves in 69 mln tons and thus at 2 mtpa capacity it may supply the local customers with coal in next 35 years. They planned to launch this mine in 2009-2010-2012 but due to economical crisis the endeavor has been postponed - probably to 2012-2013.
The country's single crude steel producer (Belarus Metallurgical Works in Zhodino) uses EAF/scrap technology; the mill has no coke-chemical workshop and thus doesn't import coking coal.