The application of slurry atomisation - inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to major, minor and trace element determination in coals has been investigated. Eight certified reference material (CRM) coals have been ground by the bottle and bead method and analysed using both rapid scan semi-quantitative analysis, employing a single rhodium internal standard, and full quantitative analysis using simple aqueous standards for calibration. The semi-quantitative mode, which determines the concentration using the mass-response curve for 68 elements against the single internal standard, produced values which were within a factor of two of the certified reference value, in most instances. The full quantitative determination gave excellent agreement with the certified reference material coals for a large number of elemental constituents. The results from the determination of 16 elements of interest are discussed including the effects of polyatomic interferents and isotope sensitivity.