CoalWire 61, 31st October 2014

New Endcoal website

The new Endcoal website and resource centre for the global anti-coal movement features detailed background information on the problems with coal and solutions to meet global energy needs. The site also hosts the Coal Plant Tracker, a new interactive map and database that tracks all planned coal plants around the world since 2010. Please help spread the word.

Suggested Tweets:
* Busting #coal myths: get the facts behind the industry spin http://endcoal.org/coal-myths/
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features

Solar cheaper in India than imported coal

“The results of India’s latest solar auction are in, and it is bad news for developers of Australian coal projects – solar PV [photovoltaics] is cheaper for Indian users than the electricity price needed to pay for imports of coal from Australia,” writes Sophie Vorrath in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: #Solar PV projects in India are cheaper than the electricity price needed to pay for imports of #coal from Australia http://ow.ly/DuzTT 

Artists protest proposed Bangladeshi coal plant

Over the weekend, Bangladeshi artists performed plays, sang songs, and recited poetry all in a bid to protect the Sundarbans – the world’s biggest mangrove forest – from the threat of a massive coal plant. Construction is already under way on the hugely controversial Rampal coal plant, a 1320 megawatt (MW) plant set just 14 kilometres from the edge of the Sundarbans,” writes Jeremy Hance in Mongabay.com.

campaigns

Setback for proposed South African coal mine

Campaigners against the development of an open-cut coal mine adjoining the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi nature reserves in South Africa have had an initial win. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs has rejected the environmental impact study (EIS) submitted by Ibutho Coal in support of its proposed Fuleni coal mine. The KwaZulu-Natal government agreed with lawyers for the local communities and Save Our Imfolozi Wilderness that the company’s EIS was incomplete. Save Our Imfolozi Wilderness spokesperson Sheila Berry welcomed the decision as a “victory for the environment” but cautioned that the company had not yet given up. (News24.com)

Suggested Tweet: KwaZulu-Natal rejects EIS for Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni #coal mine http://bit.ly/1051Y6c  http://bit.ly/1p7Mw5o #SouthAfrica

top news

Australian government fast-tracks approval for Abbot Point dredge dumping:The Australian government is seeking to approve the dumping of 3 million tonnes of dredge spoil for the proposed Abbot Point coal terminal into internationally significant wetlands without formal environmental assessment. The federal government is aiming to approve the project based on “preliminary documentation” so that dredging can commence in March. US banks Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have joined Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in stating that they will not finance the proposed port expansion.(Sydney Morning Herald)

South African water utility objects to coal mine: Local residents and Rand Water, a publicly-owned utility, are objecting to potential water and dust pollution from the proposed Panfontein colliery on the Vaal River. The water utility is also concerned that blasting for the mine could fracture water pipes and a canal. The mine is proposed to supply coal for Eskom’s Lethabo power station. (The Times)

Denmark may accelerate coal phase-out:Denmark’s Climate and Energy Minister, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, has requested government officials advise him on whether the country phase out coal by 2025 instead of its current target of 2030. The government’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats, said they would support the goal as long as it didn’t result in increased electricity imports from coal-fired plants in Germany. Denmark currently has 2500 MW of installed coal capacity. (EurActiv.com)

US state politician charged with bribing coal inspector: A Democratic Party member of Kentucky state legislature, W. Keith Hall, has been charged with paying US$46,343 to Kelly Shortridge, a Kentucky mine inspector, to ignore safety and environmental violations at Pike County coal mines run by Hall’s company. Hall and Shortridge are scheduled to appear in court in Pikeville on November 5.(Kentucky.com)

Indian company investigated for coal block bribes: Jindal Steel & Power has confirmed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating allegations that the company paid bribes to win a coal block allocation in the state of Chhattisgarh. The CBI is also investigating separate allegations of irregularities in gaining approval for an iron ore mine in a forested area in the state of Jharkhand. (Reuters)

Sri Lankan government investigates coal import fraud: The Sri Lankan Minister of Power and Energy, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, has told parliament that the loss of US$1.1 million by the Ceylon Electricity Board on coal imports in 2012 is being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department. Low calorific coal was substituted for higher quality coal for use in the controversial Norochcholai coal power plant. (News.Lk)

“The Yakama Nation [in Washington state] has considerable concerns regarding the transporting of coal through our ancestral grounds. There is no price you can pay, no repair you can make, that would make our lands whole again once the coal companies have done their damage, collected their money and disappeared,”

wrote JoDe Goudy, the Chairman of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council in the Yakima Herald in response to an invitation from Mead to tour coal mines in Wyoming.

news

Canada: Teck mine wastewater treatment plant shut after dozens of dead fish found.

Dominican Republic: Protests against water shortages and proposed coal plants.

Germany: Data suggests electricity demand fell by 4 per cent in first nine months of 2014.

North Korea: Russian companies to be paid in coal and other resources for investment in railways.

Philippines:  Bunker fuel leaks from Sual power station polluting sea.

UK: Residents defeat UK coal store proposed near to children’s nursery and homes.

“The reality is the go-ahead for the Galilee will be some years down the track,”

said Lance Hockridge, the chief executive of railways company Aurizon. Aurizon has tentatively agreed to fund and build a multi-billion dollar railway line to enable the Indian-led joint venture GVK Hancock to export coal from the Alpha, Kevin’s Corner and Alpha West coal mines in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal terminal.

companies + markets

Viability of China’s coal-to-gas boom challenged: A researcher at an institute affiliated with a state-owned coal company said that China’s proposed coal-to-gas boom is being driven by requirements from local government agencies that before companies are granted approval for new coal mines they must commit to building synthetic gas projects. While 48 coal-to-gas projects have been proposed, the financial viability of them is uncertain due to technical problems, cost overruns, water constraints and the potential impact of a carbon price. (Scientific American)

Western US producers to bear brunt of coal cuts: An analysis of announced coal plant closures in the US indicates that Peabody Energy stands to lose customers for approximately 14 million tonnes or 9 per cent of its current sales volume by 2025. The next biggest losers will be Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, Yorktown Partners and Alpha Natural Resources. Over 51 million tonnes per annum is estimated to be cut by 2025, with over half of that from the Powder River Basin.(SNL)

More cost overruns for US carbon capture project: Southern Company, a major US utility, has revealed that the cost of its proposed Kemper lignite-fired 600 MW plant with carbon capture and storage has increased by US$496 million with the commissioning date pushed back from June 2015 to “the first half of 2016.” The plant, which is now estimated to cost US$6.1 billion, was estimated in 2009 to cost US$2.8 billion and scheduled to be commissioned in 2013.(Southern Company, The State)

Coal analyst flags 2028 peak for Chinese steel production: Wood Mackenzie, an analyst firm widely considered bullish on the future of coal, estimates that metallurgical coal prices are unlikely to recover until 2018. The firm estimates that Chinese steel production – a key driver of the global market – could peak by 2028. The firm also estimates metallurgical coal demand will slow but that by 2035 an additional 100 million tonnes per annum capacity could be required, some of which may be met by currently mothballed projects. (Platts)

BHP predicts doubling of Chinese steel scrap supply by 2020’s: The world’s largest exporter of metallurgical coal, BHP Billiton, is estimating that the supply of scrap steel available for reuse in China will double by the mid-2020’s. Scrap steel is reused in electric arc furnaces which do not require metallurgical coal. China accounts for approximately half of the world’s metallurgical coal consumption and one-quarter of imports from the seaborne market. (Australian Financial Review) (Paywall)

US government plans to plug export coal royalty loophole: The US government is drafting rules to prevent US coal companies avoiding paying the 12.5 per cent royalty on coal for export by selling it to affiliated brokers at the domestic price. In 2011 it was revealed that companies were paying royalties on the domestic value of just US$12 per tonne but selling it into the Asian market at ten times the value. (Reuters)

“The coal which is used to warm your houses on cold nights is the same coal which has taken our homes from us … The coal that comes from Cerrejón [coal mine in Colombia] is dirty coal, stained by the blood and sweat of the people of La Guajira. In Europe, people enjoy light at the suffering of these communities,”

said Rogelio Ustate from the Federation of Communities Displaced by Mining in La Guajira. Ustate was touring the UK ahead of the BHP Billiton annual general meeting.

resources                      take action

Banking on Coal 2014, BankTrack, October 2014. (Pdf)

This report analyses the investments in coal mining and coal power by 92 leading commercial banks. It finds that from 2005 to April 2014, these banks provided a total of US$500 billion to the coal industry, with almost three quarters provided by the twenty top ‘coal banks’.

Briefing note: The outlook for financing for Australia’s Galilee Basin coal proposals,Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, October 22, 2014. (Pdf)

This report concludes that the significant financial risks associated with the development of the Galilee Basin coal mines suggest that obtaining finance for the key projects will take at least a year.

Preventing the Preventable: Policy Options for Accelerating Coal Mine Rehabilitation and Creating Jobs in the Latrobe Valley,Environment Victoria, October 2014. (Pdf)

This report argues the need and jobs benefits from accelerated coal mine rehabilitation works to avoid a repeat of the 45-day long Hazelwood mine fire.

Little Blue: A Broken Promise, Earthjustice, October 2014. (Video)

This ten-minute video tells the story of the campaign by residents to force First Energy to close and clean-up the pollution caused by dumping coal ash into an unlined dam.

Tell Bank of America: Don’t Finance the Destruction of the Great Barrier Reef

While many international banks from Goldman Sachs to Deutsche Bank have ruled out financing the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal, Bank of America hasn’t. Sign the international petition here.