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|About 45-50% of the coal mined in the U.S. passes through coal preparation plants; east of the Mississippi River this number increases to about 75-80%. Although the cost for coal preparation is worthwhile to some, the coal industry faces the challenges of continuing downward pressure on the price of coal and the impact of new environmental regulations. Coal preparation, as commercially practiced today, is an effective process achieving 75-803 ash reduction, 15-8m trace element reduction, and 85-90% Btu recovery; it is less effective for pyrite reduction (35-70%), and on-line operating time (40-60%), and suffers from obsolete control systems. Methods will be discussed for reducing costs of coal preparation and improving the performance of coal preparation plants. Comments are included on equipment selection, especially for -28 mesh coal, and prep plant operation and control practices. Btu recovery, ash and pyrite reduction, fines processing including dewatering and slurry fuel use options are emphasized. Trace element removal and expert control systems for maximization of prep plant operation also will be highlighted.|