Amenability of Askale coal to desulfinization by magnetic separation following microwave heating was investigated. The coal was subjected to magnetic separation at 2 T following the treatment in a microwave oven at 850-W power and 2.45-GHz frequency. The increase in magnetic property by microwave heating at 850 W and 2.45 GHz was not sufficient to enhance the removal of considerable amount pyritic sulfur from the coal by magnetic separation at 2 T. Pyritic sulfur content was reduced by 37.46%. With the addition of 5% magnetite, which is an excellent microwave absorber mineral, microwave heating was enhanced and pyritic sulfur content of coal was reduced by 55.11%, by magnetic separation at magnetic field intensity of 2 T following the microwave heating. In addition, 21.54% decrease in ash content and 20.39% increase in calorific value also resulted. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.