CoalWire 26, 27th February 2014

campaigns

Beleaguered NZ coal project hits the wall

Despite overcoming sustained legal challenges by environmentalists, Bathurst Resources has announced that to “stabilise the company” it is sacking staff and indefinitely deferring production from the controversial proposed Escarpment mine in New Zealand until “the market improves.” Despite this, the company is pressing the Minister for Conservation, Nick Smith, to issue the final consent so it can proceed with mine preparation works, a move opposed by Coal Action Network Aotearoa. “We could find ourselves in a situation where the company goes under, having destroyed the beautiful Denniston Plateau – for absolutely nothing,” said CANA spokeswoman, Cindy Baxter. (Bathurst Resources, Coal Action Network Aotearoa)

Joint venture partner pulls out of Abbot Point expansion

Lend Lease Australia, a major property developer, has withdrawn from a consortium proposing a new coal export terminal at Abbot Point. Lend Lease held a 25% stake in the project, with transport company Aurizon holding the other 75%. Two other new terminals – which have been proposed by the GVK Group and Adani – remain under active consideration. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition, representing 90,000 young people, had specifically pressed Lend Lease to abide by its environmental policies and withdraw from the project. (Bloomberg, Australian Youth Climate Coalition)

top news

Few Chinese cities escape high air pollution: After reviewing Ministry of Environmental Protection data for PM2.5 small particle pollution from 2013, Greenpeace has ranked 74 Chinese cities by their pollution levels. They conclude that “almost 92% of these cities have average annual PM2.5 air pollution concentrations that fail to reach the national standard (which is 35 micrograms per cubic meter).” Seven of the ten most polluted cities are in Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing.(Greenpeace East Asia)

 US court overturns Bush-era rule on stream protection: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia overturned a 2008 regulation of the George W. Bush administration that substantially reduced the protection of streams and rivers from  mountaintop removal mining waste. While the decision reinstates the previous 1983 stream buffer protections, the Obama Administration has been working on drafting new standards. (E&E Publishing, Southern Environmental  Law Center)

Protests set to commence against Indian Government-approved project: Protests by villagers are set to commence against plans by a joint venture of Essar Power Ltd and Hindalco Industries to mine more than 8.5 million tonnes per annum of coal in the Mahan forests. On February 12 the Ministry of Environment and Forests gave approval for the project. (LiveMint)

Evacuation contingency plans developed as Australian mine continues to burn: High pollution levels caused by a fire in the Hazelwood brown coal mine prompted Victoria Police to draft a worst-case plan for the evacuation of up to 10,000 people. The Country Fire Authority has foreshadowed that extinguishing the surface fire will take at least two more weeks but could burn for months. The mine primarily supplies coal for the 1542 megawatt (MW) Hazelwood power station.Both the mine and power station are owned by GDF Suez Energy Australia. (The Age,Latrobe Valley Express)

“China’s pollution is at an unbearable stage … It’s like a smoker who needs to quit smoking at once otherwise he will risk getting lung cancer,”

said Li Junfeng, the Director-General of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, which advises the Chinese Government on climate change policy.

news

Australia: NSW backs proposed underground mine despite water supply concerns.

Australia: Peabody Energy underground mine blamed for draining water supply creek.

China: First lawsuit against Chinese provincial government over failure to control air pollution.

Mozambique: Government approves 600 MW Moatize plant at Vale mine mouth.

Somalia: Somali government signs coal agreement with Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group.

US: Wyoming State Government budgets US$500,000 for pro-coal ports legal action.

“Will These Coal Companies Recover?,”

asked the headline on AOL’s Daily Finance website, referring to Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

companies + markets

Funding hunt for controversial Bangladeshi project: The Bangladesh Power Development Board is seeking a US$252 million interest-free loan from the Ministry of Finance for the proposed 1320 MW Rampal plant near the Sundarbans World Heritage site. The BPDB “has no capacity to finance the project from its own fund. So, we have sought the money from the public exchequer,” a Power Division official said. (The Financial Express)

Regulator bails out losing power project:The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has announced that Tata Power should be reimbursed for losses incurred due to the increased cost of Indonesian coal. The commission also authorised an increase in the tariff paid for power from the 4000 MW Tata Mundra plant. Several states which purchase power from the plant are likely to challenge the ruling. (Live Mint)

Norwegian parliamentary committee ponders coal divestment: The World Coal Association’s Chief Executive, Milton Catelin, has told a parliamentary committee that the financial returns from coal companies are low. The committee is considering a motion that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund divest from coal companies. Catelin subsequently told a journalist that financial returns from coal companies were the lowest of all those in the fossil fuel sector.  A coalition of groups is also pressing the fund to divest its US$6.3 million stake in Whitehaven Coal which is commencing work on a new mine in an environmentally important New South Wales forest. (Reuters, The Australian)

“One should face the bitter truth that India’s coal reserves would not last more than 20 years on an optimistic basis … A time has come when all of us should recognise the unpalatable fact that we have reached the end of the tether as far as conventional energy sources are concerned,”

said E. A. S. Sarma, a former Secretary of the Indian Government’s Ministry of Power.

resources

Coal Data Browser, US Energy Information Administration (EIA), February 2014.

The EIA has launched a new online browser tool which allows users to readily access and sort government information, statistics, and create visualizations about the U.S. coal sector.

Key Findings from a survey in West Virginia, Hart Research Associates, February 19, 2014.

A three-page summary of an opinion poll of 504 registered West Virginia voters on their attitudes to environmental regulation, political candidates and the influence of the coal industry in the wake of the chemical spill into the Elk River.

take action

Cancel Eskom’s Application to Pollute Freely

South Africa’s utility, Eskom, is seeking long-term postponements from complying with pollution standards designed to protect health. Greenpeace Africa is asking supporters to send an email to the National Air Quality Officer. The deadline is this Friday.