Within the last three years, virtually all potentially economical coking coal deposits of the Alberta Foothills have been explored and placed under lease; more recently, the commercial interest engendered by the search for coking coals has shifted its focus to deposits of non-coking thermal coals, both within the Foothills and the Plains regions. It is foreseen that thermal coals will experience heavy demand for electric power production in thermal steam plants and for manufacturing high BTU 'SNG' (substitute natural gas) in coal gasification plants.
The geology of Plains regions coal-bearing strata is well known from published studies of the Geological Survey of Canada, Research Council of Alberta and numerous geologists associated with the petroleum industry; and the Canada Mines Branch has reported numerous chemical analyses of coals from producing mines in its irregular publication entitled 'Analysis Directory of Canadian Coals'. However, the only single compendium of information on the chemical nature and commercial value of Alberta coals has been Report 35 of the Research Council of Alberta (Stansfield and Lang, 1944), unfortunately slanted towards the defunct domestic market and in any case now out of print. The Research Council of Alberta is in the process of compiling a somewhat different and more up-to-date, comprehensive report on systematics and chemistry of Alberta coals, but this will not be available to the general public for some time to come. As a temporary measure in 1970, Research Council staff compiled a free 'information kit' entitled 'Alberta Foothills Coals'.