Pellets for removing hydrogen sulfide from a coal gasification stream at an elevated temperature are prepared in durable form usable over repeated cycles of absorption and regeneration. The pellets include a material reactive with hydrogen sulfide, in particular zinc oxide, a binder, and an inert material, in particular calcium sulfate (drierite), having a particle size substantially larger than other components of the pellets. A second inert material and a promoter may also be included. Preparation of the pellets may be carried out by dry, solid-state mixing of components, moistening the mixture, and agglomerating it into pellets, followed by drying and calcining. Pellet size is selected, depending on the type of reaction bed for which the pellets are intended. The use of inert material with a large particle size provides a stable pellet structure with increased porosity, enabling effective gas contact and prolonged mechanical durability.