The generation of thermoelectric coal to power has aroused different opinions and significances. The objective of this paper is to investigate the social representations that groups and social actors in rural areas share about the matter of exploitation of coal in the municipality of Candiota (RS), Southern Brazil. Some representations that compose the relationship between rural and coal in the county were identified. From a theoretical and methodological point of view, were based on the Theory of Social Representations of Serge Moscovici, and the structural approach of social representations of Jean-Claude Abric. We interviewed 46 people between January and March 2012. The central representation of the coal activity in the case study is located around the idea of “economic growth”, depicting a discourse of the reified universe of some socio-economic sectors and the pressure to make inferences about groups. Most of the interviewed people are favorable to the activity (53%), while 28% are opposed and 19% do not consider themselves neither favorable or contrary, varying their arguments according to social position. In the case studied, the level of dependence on coal exploration is unstable and dynamic.