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Yellow to dark brown, rarely black, coal that has been formed from peat under moderate pressure; it is one of the first products of coalification and is intermediate between peat and subbituminous coal. Dry lignite contains about 60–70% carbon. Almost half of the world's total coal reserves contain lignite and subbituminous coal, but lignite has not been exploited to any great extent because lignite is inferior to higher-rank coals (e.g., bituminous coal) in heating value, ease of handling, and storage stability. In some areas, however, the scarcity of fuel has led to extensive developments.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on lignite, visit Britannica.com.