CoalWire 28, 14th March 2014

Judge seizes Italian coal plant over pollution deaths

Under a judge’s instruction, police in the Savona district of northern Italy ordered the shutdown of two 330 megawatt (MW) coal-fired generating units owned by Tirreno Power. Savona’s chief prosecutor, Francantonio Granero, had argued that emissions from the Vado Ligure plant were responsible for 442 premature deaths between 2000 and 2007, as well as 2,000 cases of heart and lung disease. An 800 MW natural gas unit at the same location was not affected by the order. Tirreno Power is 50 per cent owned by GDF Suez along with three Italian companies. (Reuters,RenewEconomy)

Suggested Tweet: Italian judge orders @gdfsuez #coal plant shutdown over pollution http://reut.rs/1foL6Yd

Will China’s Green Credit Directive move beyond coal?

The construction of a 300 MW lignite-fed plant at Stanari in Bosnia and Herzegovina is emblematic of Chinese financial support for old-style polluting power projects. China Development Bank’s US$490 million loan for the project stands in contrast to the government’s Green Credit Directive’s emphasis on ensuring Chinese bank investments meet high standards.“If China is serious in its commitment to sustainable development, it should take action to enforce innovative policies like the Green Credit Directive, or risk jeopardising its international reputation and future investment opportunities in Europe,” writes Michelle Chan, the Economic Policy Director for Friends of the Earth US.

Suggested Tweet: Will #China move beyond funding #coal plants overseas and enforce Green Credit Directive guidelines? http://bit.ly/1etFuMM

campaigns

Pressure on Australian coal bankers increases

Australia’s four largest banks are under increasing public pressure over their role in lending to companies proposing major new coal mines and ports. Environmental finance campaign group, Market Forces, has organised account-closing protests for customers at branches of the ANZ bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and, most recently, Westpac. “The sense of being part of a groundswell is empowering,” said one woman who cancelled her account. A national ‘Divestment Day’ is being organised for May 3 at bank branches around the country. (Market Forces, Market Forces)

Anglo American backs out of Abbot Point expansion

Anglo American has withdrawn its plan to participate in the development of a new 60 million tonnes per annum coal export terminal at Abbot Point near the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. Anglo American’s withdrawal leaves just two Indian companies – GVK and Adani – contemplating new terminals. “Some of the Indian players who have invested in Australia may be better off exiting these investments even at a loss,” said Debasish Mishra, a partner in Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Lend Lease have all withdrawn from involvement in new terminals at Abbot Point. A coalition of residents, tourism operators and environmentalists have opposed the proposed expansion of the coal terminal. (Bloomberg, Greenpeace)

top news

Thai court finds coal plant owner liable for damages: The Supreme Administrative Court has found the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) liable for damage caused over a decade by sulphur dioxide pollution from the lignite-fired Mae Moh power plant. However, Judge Sumeth Deuisres recommended that the utility pay only US$401,000 in damages to 130 villagers suing the company, an amount that left villagers dismayed. (The Nation)

India files first formal charges in Coalgate scandal: The former power unit of Nava Bharat Ventures and two former owners have been charged with criminal conspiracy and cheating in connection to a 2008 coal allocation to the company. The charges are the first to be laid in the US$30 billion Coalgate scandal, in which private companies received coal blocks without bidding via competitive tender. (New York Times)

Mozambique charges miners with neglecting local communities: Tete provincial director of planning and finance, Maria de Lurdes Fonseca, said that most of the mining companies operating in Tete province have not honoured their legal obligation to fund community development projects in mining areas. Fonseca named Rio Tinto, Jindal, and Minas de Moatize, a subsidiary of Beacon Hill Resources, as companies which had not met their obligations. (allAfrica)

Inquiry announced into Australian mine fire: The Victorian Government has announced that an inquiry will be held into the fire at the Hazelwood brown coal mine. The fire, which began on February 9, continues to burn and cause high pollution levels in some nearby suburbs. The mine is owned by a subsidiary of GDF Suez. (Victorian Government, ABC News)

Opposition to proposed Thai coal plant:Villagers have expressed strong opposition at public hearings to a proposed 870MW coal plant and coal port facility. The plant has been proposed by EGAT to be built in Krabi province in southern Thailand. Villagers expressed concern over impacts from the plants and shipping facilities on coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves, and nursing grounds in an area listed as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.(The Nation)

“I really hate to do this to you, but because your poem deals with coal and many state representatives will be there, our director wants you to choose a different poem,”

wrote an official with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in an email to Grace Pritt, a high school student who had been asked to read a poem at the awards ceremony of a poetry reading competition. Pritt had chosen a poem about the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in which 29 miners were killed.

news

Colombia: Drummond likely to resume exports by late March after coal loader upgrade.

Germany: EnBW announces plan to close two old plants with 250MW capacity.

India: Steel Authority of India-led consortium investigates Polish coal assets.

Mongolia: Companies sign coal-bed methane agreement with Korea Gas Corporation.

Mozambique: Vale awards contract for second phase of the Moatize coal mine.

“The retention agreements were entered into to ensure stability in the company’s senior management team and to retain their service through particularly difficult market and regulatory conditions,”

wrote US coal company Alpha Natural Resources explaining why US$2 million bonuses were awarded to CEO Kevin Crutchfield and President Paul Vining in the midst of the company’s plummeting stock price.

companies + markets

China considers tax increase on coal: The State Taxation Administration has proposed increasing tax rates on coal to between two and 10 per cent of sales value rather than the current range of between US$0.32 to US$1.30 per tonne. “The move will be good for resource and energy-saving and our fight with pollution,” said Wang Jun, the chairman of the State Taxation Administration. (The Economic Times)

Indonesia rescinds output restrictions: In response to lobbying from major coal producers, a proposal by the Indonesian Government to cut exports to boost prices has been dropped in favour of limiting 2014 volumes to last year’s level. “The upper limit is 421 million metric tonnes,” said Edi Prasodjo, Director of Coal at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. (Jakarta Globe)

Chinese agency predicts coal peak in 2020: China’s coal demand will peak in 2020 at 4.7 billion tonnes, according to Li Ruifeng, general manager of the Coal Industry Planning and Design Research Institute. Li predicted that demand will grow an average of 3.9 per cent until 2020 and then decrease by about 0.43 per cent thereafter. Demand in 2030 is projected to be 4.56 billion tonnes.  (China Times)

Arch Coal continues to divest: In an effort to lower its debt burden, major US coal producer Arch Coal has divested itself of a string of assets in 2014. The most recent transaction is the sale of the Hazard Complex, a thermal coal project, to Blackhawk Mining for US$26.3 million in cash. (Zacks)

Coal India officers plan strike: A three-day strike called by the Coal Mine Officers’ Association of India is likely to impact about 40 per cent of power generation in the southern part of the country. In other regions most plants have sufficient coal stocks to last about two weeks. (The Economic Times)

Executive burnout decimates top ranks of coal mining companies: With the retirement of numerous coal company executives in the last year, corporate headhunters suggest burnout may be a factor. “It could be that some individuals are worn out and don’t want to fight the fight. … I think overall the business has taken a toll on executives,” said recruiter Bruce Peterson. (SNLSNL)

[Anglo American’s withdrawal from Abbot Point] “further erodes confidence that the major mines being proposed in the Galilee basin can happen in the current price environment … The ongoing weakness in the coal market makes it difficult for the returns to be adequate for the massive capital expense required to bring some of these peripheral basins like the Galilee into production,”

Matthew Trivett, a Brisbane-based analyst with Patersons Securities, told Bloomberg.

resources

Coal Prospects in Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia,International Energy Agency Clean Coal Centre, December 2013. (Pdf)

This report provides a detailed overview of potential coal developments in five Southern African countries which have large coal deposits in proximity to both the South Asian and European markets. This report is available for free to residents of member countries. You can register here.

Biggest lenders to Australian coal and gas,Market Forces and 350.org.

This interactive graphic shows the source and destination of tens of billions of dollars in loans to coal and gas projects in Australia.

Eric de Place, “Keystone XL vs. Coal Exports:A carbon comparison of Northwest coal plans and a huge tar sands pipeline”,Sightline Daily,  March 5, 2014.

This graphic compares the climate impact of the Keystone XL pipeline to that of three proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest region of the US.

China’s Air Pollution Heads West,Bloomberg, March 7, 2014.
This infographic illustrates the potential shift of China’s coal-based pollution from coal plants in eastern cities to coal-to-gas conversion hubs in western provinces populated by ethnic minorities.

take action

Time for Société Générale to divest from coal

Friends of the Earth France has launched an online petition calling on the French bank, Société Générale, to divest from coal, starting by ending its support for GVK’s Alpha Coal Mine in Australia. Add your name here.

Suggested Tweet: @SocieteGenerale must divest from #coal starting with #GVK Alpha Coal project #galilee http://t.co/669axBQ6me#reef  #auspol @amisdelaterre