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Minecraft Coal Ore Guide - Best Level/Height to Mine in 1.20

Where to find the most coal ore in Minecraft 1.20.

We’ve gone through an entire Minecraft patch cycle since Mojang completely overhauled the world’s ore distribution system. With it, the old Y=11 rule was retired and now you need to have an entirely different strategy depending on which ore you’re looking to find. While it’s easy to remember that old traditions no longer apply, it’s harder to remember exactly which world level is the most likely to have what you’re looking for. In this guide, we explain where you can find coal ore and what the best single height is in Minecraft 1.20 as far as density goes.

What is the Best Level/Height to Find Coal Ore?

Coal used to appear between evenly between Y=0 and Y=125. This made things incredibly easy. Whatever material you were looking for would also help you uncover all the coal you could possibly need. With the newer ore distribution, however, coal is completely nonexistent below Y=0, where you’re likely digging for diamonds.

You can find coal ore between levels zero and 256. There are two different sections of coal. One is a triangle shape, between Y=0 and Y=192, becoming more common as you approach Y=96 and less common as you reach those outer extremities. Because of this Y=96 is the best place to mine for coal in most areas. This isn’t true 100% of the time, however. There’s a secondary distribution of coal that is only available in extremely high world heights. This one begins at Y=136 and extends all the way up to the world generation limit at Y=256. This shape is a rectangle, meaning the odds are static the entire way through. This second section does overlap with the first in some points meaning Y=136 is likely to have the most coal per chunk, making it the true best level to mine.

minecraft plains villagesImage via Minecraft Seeds HQ.

If you don’t know what level you’re at, hit F3 to display your current information and look for the XYZ values.

An important change, however, is the added effect of reduced air exposure. From a technical standpoint, this means when the world is being generated and a coal ore block is about to be placed in a location where it would be exposed to open air (like in a cave), there’s a chance that the ore will be skipped instead. In short, this means there is a higher chance of finding coal ore if you’re mining. You will need to balance speed and the number of coal. You can more quickly venture through caves than you can mine tunnels.

It’s worth noting that you can still find copper, iron, emerald, and gold at these levels, but there are now more optimal heights if you’re searching specifically for those materials.

Want to see the changes for yourself? Here’s the official ore distribution map from Mojang.

It’s a bit hard to parse, but you see that solid black block in the comparison? That means coal ore was equally likely to spawn at all of those levels. In the new distribution on the left, the ore now becomes more and more prevalent as you Y=96 and again at Y=136 where the triangle and rectangle overlap.

While you’re here you can use that chart to figure out where to get the other ore types, but we’ll also be writing up guides to help decipher it all since it can be a big confusing. Hope this was helpful!

About the Author

Dillon Skiffington

Dillon is the Senior Game Guides Editor at Fanbyte. He's spent about 2,000 hours playing a bun boy in Final Fantasy XIV and 800 hours maining Warlock in Destiny 2.