The South African economy is strongly based on coal as a mined resource, and various grades of coal are supplied to local and international customers. However, the environmental impacts associated with the preparation and production of different coal grades from Run of Mine (RoM) or raw coal are variable; specifically, the different mining methods used for coal extraction – opencast or underground mining – have different environmental impacts. The entire life cycles of the grades of coal must therefore be evaluated in order to compare environmental performances with supplied economic values. In this paper, a Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methodology, based on the ISO 14040 standard, is applied for this purpose. Four cases are considered in South Africa: typical high-grade and low-grade coals from opencast and underground mines.