CoalWire 4, 19th September 2013

CoalWire

CoalWire is a weekly news bulletin which summarises the most significant developments affecting the global coal industry and highlights the efforts of groups around the world working on coal-related issues. Suggestions of material for future bulletins should be sent to editor@coalwire.org.

campaigns

South Africa: Exemptions for World Bank-funded coal plant challenged

Local activists are taking on national electricity utility Eskom over its attempt to exempt itself from South African air quality regulations and delaying the installation of Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) at the world’s fourth largest power station, Medupi. If granted, the exemptions will violate the conditions of a World Bank loan made to Eskom to build the plant. Earthlife Africa Jhb’s Project Coordinator, Tristen Taylor, states, “Neither The World Bank nor Eskom seem to be particularly concerned about the health impacts of Medupi being exempted from air quality standards or from FGD being so delayed that the likelihood of it ever being installed enters the realm of miracles. This violates the contract the Bank and Eskom made with the people of Lephalale: they promised to prevent dangerous and possibly lethal pollution, but now prefer excessive profits instead. In effect, The World Bank and Eskom lied to us all.”

top news

Australia: Three farmers and an environmental group have commenced a three-week-long legal challenge to the approval of the GVK- Hancock Coal mega-mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The groups are challenging the economics of the project and the impacts on groundwater and global climate. (Sydney Morning Herald, Coast and Country Queensland)

China: New coal-fired power stations will be banned in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze Delta and the Pearl River Delta regions. The latter two regions account for half of China’s imported coal. The government’s plan requires the most polluted provinces to “strive to achieve a negative coal increase” in five years. (Xinhua, South China Morning Post ,Greenpeace)

Germany: Forty Greenpeace activists blocked the railway used to supply Vattenfall’s Schwarz Pumpe power station. The Swedish company has plans to open five more mines. Increasing coal-fired generation has led to calls for European energy policy to ensure the most polluting plants close first.(Greenpeace, Bloomberg)

India: The electrical engineering company Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited has served legal notices demanding payment of US$2.7 billion in overdue bills for major private power projects. Bad loans from the Indian power sector – which is over two-thirds coal powered – are increasing and orders for new plants falling. (LiveMint)

Indonesia: Faced with falling profitability of thermal coal exports, the privately-owned PT Adaro Energy and the government-owned PT Bukit Asamare look to increased local power generation for new markets. Each company is currently building three new coal plants with a combined installed capacity of more than 4900 megawatts. (Jakarta Post)

United States: Environmental groups are seeking an audit of permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Ohio division following the resignation of a senior regulator.  In August George Elmaraghy, who headed the Division of Surface Water, wrote that the agency faced “considerable pressure” from the coal industry for permits “that may have a negative impact on Ohio streams and wetlands and violate state and federal laws.” (WYSO 91.3FM, Columbus Dispatch)

news

Australia: Air pollution alerts in Hunter Valley spur protests.

Australia: Proposed Newcastle terminal trimmed to 70 million tonnes a year.

Australia: Minister wants “coal seam gas” replaced by “natural gas from coal seams”.

Canada: Coal drilling rig shut down by First Nation protest.

Canada: Coal conference dominated by talk of cost cutting.

Colombia: Brazilian billionaire offloads two coal mines for cash.

Colombia: Seven week strike at Drummond mines and port ends.

India: Jindal Power faces expensive coal for proposed Chattisgarh plant.

India: Government-owned coal company hikes coal prices by fifteen percent.

India: NGO argues Supreme Court should cancel all ‘Coalgate’ coal allocations.

Mongolia: Coal exports to China fell by 46% in the first half of the year.

Scotland: Legal challenge to Hunterston coal plant fails.

United States: Kentucky judge overturns water pollution permit for coal plant.

United States: Peabody Energy’s Prairie State deal deserves to be investigated.

United States: Coal lobby aims to block Obama nominee for transmission agency.

United States: Coal company asked not to bid on federal coal lease.

United States: Thirteen arrested over protest against proposed Montana mine.

United States: Coal export plans dwindle as global coal market sours.

Zambia: First coal power plant and associated mine proceeding.

“The only return on investment with coal, coal trains and coal terminals is carbon dioxide and ocean acidification,”

wrote Lance Dickie, an editorial columnist for the Seattle Times.

companies + markets

Indian investments in overseas coal projects: The decline in the Indian rupee against the US dollar is reducing Indian companies’ interest in overseas coal projects. “Deals could slow down further as assets have become more expensive,” said Ketan Shaah, executive director and head of investment banking at Daiwa Capital Markets India in Mumbai. “Financing has also become more difficult,” he said. (Bloomberg)
Thermal over-supply to last another year:Fitch Ratings considers that the global thermal coal market “will remain over-supplied in the next 12 months.” Fitch stated that the seasonal fall in Chinese coal-fired generation would put additional downwards pressure on prices and that “a sizeable share of production is loss-making at current prices in both Indonesia and Australia.” (Fitch Ratings)

“Global coal prices right now are not supportive of large-scale U.S. coal exports,”

Anthony Yuen, a Citigroup energy analyst told the New York Times.

resources

Synapse Energy EconomicsWater Constraints on Energy Production: Altering our Current Collision Course, Civil Society Institute, September 2013. (Pdf) The report reviews the conflict between water and power production in the US and concludes that declining water supplies are both limiting the nation’s energy supplies and being threatened by power plant operations and fuel production.

Coal vs. Water, Greenpeace China, September 2013. (Video) This nine-minute video examines the conflict between the development of massive coal mining and processing centres in Erdos in Inner Mongolia and Yulin in Shaanxi province and the impact on downstream water resources for domestic use and agriculture.

take action

‘Long March’ to protect Bangladesh World Heritage site: Support activists from across Bangladesh who will be trekking 600km from 24-28 September in a Long March to save the World Heritage site, the Sundarbans, from a 1,320MW coal fired power plant. The Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest and plays an important role in protecting the climate. Work on building the coal plant is scheduled to begin on 26 September. For more information see here.