Standard source apportionment techniques for atmospheric particulate (PM) collected near opencast coal mines using inorganic
markers only are limited by the similarity in the mineral components in the overburden and at adjacent residential locations. This
study explores the use of the stable carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) isotope ratios (13C/12C and 15N/14N) and thermal optical methods
to differentiate sources of carbonaceous material in the atmospheric PM samples from the opencast coal mines and adjacent
communities. Results show isotopic and OC/EC ratio differences between atmospheric PM samples from the opencast coal mines and
communities, although distinguishing between the contributions of coal combustion, liquid fuel combustion and the domestic use of
biomass requires further analysis.