Don’t let the spark cost scare you. Soft coal is still a really efficient fuel form that is abundantly found. You still, after paying a 9000 spark production cost, will yield a 42% increase in spark over 360 regular, uncompacted pieces of coal.
10 spark/soft coal * 360 soft coal = 36000 spark
50 compact soft coal * 1200 spark/compact piece = 60000 spark minus 9000 to produce = 51000 spark
Prior to the update I was finding about 2000 pieces of coal per hour. A good mix, sometimes 50/50 of soft to medium (with some hard coal in there). Let’s just say it was all soft coal.
That’s 2000 pieces / 360 = 7.69 mass crafts * 51000 spark = 392307 spark. To get that mining peat you’d need: 1307 compact peat. That’s 9415 peat gathered or about 74 minutes of non-stop peat gathering at one smart stack per 7 minutes.
Seems like coal is still a better fuel source to me. Because in that time I can mine those pieces I’m also getting rocks, ores, gems, fossils, titanium, gold, silver, etc. not to mention those numbers are based upon you only finding soft coal. Prior to this update I was average over 75k income/hour mining. Even if coal prices get cut in half, the doubled output doesn’t change that income level.