CoalWire 33, 17th April 2014

Australian coal industry social media campaign backfires

An attempt by the Minerals Council of Australia to create a Twitterstorm using #Australiansforcoal backfired when hundreds of witty Tweets mocking the industry were published. “The real embarrassment for the coal industry lies in the very establishment of Australians for Coal because any decent industry on a proper ethical footing does not need to try and confect the appearance of public support. #Australiansforcoal – because when the arrogant, powerful and greedy are challenged by morality, economics and science, they don’t like it,” wrote Greenpeace CEO David Ritter in The Guardian.

Suggested Tweet: Why the #australiansforcoal social media campaign backfired http://bit.ly/1qZfWgt http://bit.ly/1npxx19

BNP Paribas should dump coal

The French banking giant BNP Paribas claims to be “combatting climate change”, yet it is the only international private sector bank supporting India’s devastating new 4000 megawatt (MW) Tata Mundra ‘Ultra Mega’ coal power plant. “To live up to its stated environmental responsibility to combat climate change, BNP Paribas must follow this path and stop financing the coal industry now, starting by withdrawing its funding immediately from the Tata Mundra project, avoid funding climate ‘false solutions‘ and increase its finance rapidly towards energy efficiency and renewables,” writes Yann Louvel , BankTrack Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator.(BankTrack, TckTckTck)

Suggested Tweet:  #climatesolutions exist – Tata Mundra  #coal plant must stop @BNPParibas_com http://blog.banktrack.org/?p=296

campaigns

German bank under pressure to review overseas coal power lending

The German government-owned Bank for Reconstruction (KfW) is under pressure from the new Right-Left German coalition government to end the financing of overseas coal power projects or limit loans to rare circumstances. Between 2006 and 2013 KfW loaned US$3.9 billion to coal projects in Greece, India, Serbia, South Africa and Australia. Non-government organisations including Urgewald, Climate Alliance Germany and Bread for the World as well as the Environment Ministry want KfW’s policy updated just as the World Bank and other European multilateral banks have adopted more restrictive policies. However, the Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, Sigmatr Gabriel, is opposing any change. (Taz, Handelsblatt) (Both articles are in German; Google Translate provides a rough translation)

Suggested Tweet: Town of #Bulga beats #RioTinto over proposed #coal mine expansion http://bit.ly/1mSeLPJ See local groups website http://bit.ly/1hflzGy

top news

US court upholds mercury standards: The U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by Peabody Energy and major power utilities seeking to overturn U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations limiting mercury and other pollutants. “For EPA to focus its ‘appropriate and necessary’ determination on factors relating to public health hazards, and not industry’s objections that emission controls are costly, properly puts the horse before the cart,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Judith Rogers. (Houston ChronicleBloomberg)New coal plants risk breaching EU law:According to a legal analysis five proposed new lignite power plants in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro could violate the countries’ requirement to comply with the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive by January 1, 2018. Kristína Šabová, a lawyer with the legal firm Frank Bold stated that “there is a high risk of unforeseen additional costs to the investors in these plants” to ensure compliance.(EurActiv, Frank Bold)

Rising costs hit US carbon storage plant:The 582 MW Kemper lignite-fired plant which is being built by Southern Company in Mississippi has been held up by supporters of carbon capture and storage as a coal plant of the future. However, the cost has escalated from an initial estimate of US$1.8 billion to over US$5.2 billion, making it the most expensive power plant per kilowatt installed capacity ever built in the US. (Bloomberg)

Pakistani mangroves illegally cleared for coal plant: A protected mangrove forest is being cleared even before the environmental impact statement has been filed on a 1320 MW coal-fired power station proposed by a Qatar-China joint venture. The director general of the Sindh Environment Protection Agency, Naeem Ahmed Mughal, said the clearing was illegal. The International Union for Conservation of Nature described the proposed power project as potentially disastrous for the mangrove forests. (Dawn,Dawn)Australian companies lead Borneo coal mining charge:  Two Australian companies – Brisbane-based Cokal and BHP Billiton – are pressing ahead with new metallurgical coal projects in the largest area of tropical forests remaining in Southeast Asia. While the governments of Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia have agreed on the need to prevent the deforestation of the area, the coal companies are pressing ahead with mine and transport infrastructure. (Sydney Morning Herald)

India high on most polluted cities list:India has thirteen of the twenty most polluted cities in the world “and the situation appears to be worsening,” said a report by the financial services company HSBC. “Of the 167 cities monitored for air pollution in 2010, 50 per cent reported critical levels of air pollution,” the report said. HSBC identifies India’s heavy dependence on coal and lax pollution standards as key factors responsible for pollution. (RenewEconomy)

“Right now we don’t have the right magic construction number that shows everyone that they are going to make money … It’s a difficult and ominous time for carbon capture projects,”

said Laura Miller, director of projects for Summit Power, which is proposing to build a 400 MW coal power and urea plant in Texas incorporating the capture of carbon dioxide for use in repressurising oil fields.

news

Australia: Controversy over secret coal company payments to consultative committee chairs.Australia: East coast electricity demand falls 2.8% while national greenhouse emissions drop 5% in 2013.

Colombia: Drummond barge carrying construction materials for coal port sinks.

New Zealand: Company scrambles to raise cash to offset stalled metallurgical coal project.Philippines: Department of Energy aims to auction 15 coal mine concessions in May.

US:  Power station coal demand dropped1.75% in 2013 compared to 2012.

“Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere can only be stabilized if global (net) CO2 emissions peak and decline toward zero in the long term. Improving the energy efficiencies of fossil power plants and/or the shift from coal to gas will not by itself be sufficient to achieve this,”

states the Technical Summary for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III report.

companies + markets

Rio Tinto slashes Mozambique coal production: Coal production from Rio Tinto’s Benga coal mine in Mozambique has been cut by almost 60 per cent in the first three months of 2014. In its quarterly report the company stated that exports had been affected by rail and port constraints, as well as operational changes in response to security considerations. Operations have been moved to a day shift only, and were suspended for a period in February 2014.(Rio Tinto)Indian states challenge Tata Power subsidy: The Punjub State Power Corporation has appealed  against the decision of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) requiring Tata Power and Adani Power be paid more for power than specified in their Power Purchase Agreements.  The appeal argues that CERC erred in seeking to change the outcome of a competitive bidding process. Three Rajasthan power distribution utilities have also appealed against the decision. (Hindustan Times)

Bumi racks up another huge loss: Bumi Resources, which produced 73 million tonnes of Indonesian coal in 2013, has posted a loss of US$609 million. Bumi Resources corporate secretary, Dileep Srivastava,described the coal industry as “challenging” but foreshadowed the company plans to produce 91 million tonnes in 2015. In 2012 Bumi Resources lost US$666 million. (Jakarta Globe)

Met coal price keeps falling: BHP Billiton’s determination to break the traditional sale of metallurgical coal through quarterly contracts is driving prices down. While recent quarterly metallurgical coal contracts with Japanese customers settled for US$120 a tonne, BHP Billiton – the world’s largest exporter of metallurgical coal – has been left to sell increasing volumes to Chinese and Indian customers for as low as US$107 per tonne.(Financial Times, DNA)European coal market slides:  A research note by analysts at Standard Bank argues that prices of coal in Europe are likely to be confined to US$75-85 a tonne due to increased exports from Colombia. Demand is being undercut by slowing industrial growth and the expansion of renewable electricity. The bank argues there is “an ever-diminishing logic” for South African coal from Richards Bay to the Atlantic market. (Platts)

US coal company falls from favour: US metallurgical coal producer Alpha Natural Resources is buckling under US$3.43 billion in debts while coal prices continue to fall. The value of the company’s shares has fallen by 94% since they peaked at US$67.38 in January 2011. (Bloomberg)

“It’s going to be a while before things turn around … People were hoping this year the coal business would start to rebound,”

said Evan Mann, a New York-based analyst with bond-research firm Gimme Credit LLC.

resources

“15 key findings from the IPCC mitigation report”, Greenpeace, April 2014.This is a collection of key quotes from the most recent United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III report and some of the as yet unreleased background documents.

The End of China’s Coal Boom, Greenpeace Asia, April 11, 2014. (Pdf)

This important report provides a brief overview of the key factors driving reduced growth in coal demand in China. This is a concise response to the common ‘yes, but what about coal use in China?’ retort.

“Identifying the Global Coal Industry’s Water Risks”, World Resources Institute, April 2014.

This is a detailed article reviewing the water risks associated with the coal industry and proposed coal power plants.

take action

Withdraw from Alpha coal project, Société Générale

350.org has launched a petition calling on the French bank Société Générale to withdraw from its advisory service role for the Alpha Coal project in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. If built, the Alpha coal mine would emit 1.8 billion tonnes of CO2 over a 30-year lifespan. You can sign here.