The main objectives of the present study are to perform energy and exergy analyses of a coal-preparation unit in a cement plant and investigate the effect of varying dead state (ambient) temperatures on exergy efficiency. This is the first study conducted on a coal-preparation unit located in a cement plant with respect to the perspective of exergy. The consumption of exergy, the potential improvement of the unit and the effects of CO2 emission by the unit are also examined in terms of the chosen type of fuel. Based on the results of the analyses, the mean values of energy and exergy efficiencies of the unit are found to be 74.03% and 21.36%, respectively while the average potential improvement of the unit is calculated as 78.24%. The analyses demonstrate that the exergy destruction ratio affects the CO2 emission rate of the unit. Consequently, the present technique is proposed as a useful tool for purposes of developing energy policies and providing energy conservation measures, especially concerning similar types of industrial processes. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.