CoalWire 96, July 30, 2015

features

A White Elephant at Newcastle:  T4 a Stranded Asset in the Making

“A proposal to build a fourth coal-export terminal in Newcastle, Australia, is about as big a boondoggle in the making as one can imagine. Even executives at Port Waratah Coal Services – the company that wants to erect the [70 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa)] T4 facility – are having trouble explaining the sense of the project,” writes Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Suggested Tweet: A white elephant at Newcastle: T4 #coal terminal a #strandedasset in the making writes Tim Buckley http://bit.ly/1DtcqCb @ieefa_institute

A Flawed EIS Underpins Bangladesh’s Power Plant Threatening the Sundarbans

“Ask anyone, and they can tell you that you cannot put a price on the Sundarbans. The people who live in and around the Sundarbans, those whose lives depend on it, can tell you, even without a degree in environmental science, that the mighty mangrove forest, which provides for them and protects them from natural disasters, is an irreplaceable asset. They’ll tell you, as will environmentalists anywhere in the world, that there simply is no alternative to the Sundarbans, though there may be many alternatives to power production,” writes Sushmita S. Preetha in The Daily Star.

Suggested Tweet: A flawed EIS underpins #Bangladesh’s #coal power plant threatening the #Sundarbans http://bit.ly/1KqgEzo

Chile’s Endesa Says No New Coal

“Chile’s Diario Financiero newspaper reported on 27th July that one of Chile’s largest generators, Endesa, will no longer build coal plants in Chile and has abandoned the controversial Punta Alcalde coal project. Endesa is owned by Italian utility Enel, which in March announced an agreement with Greenpeace that it would phase out future investments in coal. Endesa’s announcement is likely due to a combination of pressure from Enel and strong community opposition to coal plants in Chile,” writes Anna in EndCoal.

Suggested tweet: #Chile’s Endesa says it won’t build any new #coal http://bit.ly/1Kx2380

campaigns

Thai regime backpedals on Krabi coal plant

After a well-publicised hunger strike against the proposed Krabi coal plant in southern Thailand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha directed that a joint committee including the Save Andaman from Coal Network review the environmental and health assessment of the project and consider renewable energy alternatives. While the coalition opposing the plant also wanted a freeze on the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand opening a tender for the plant construction contract, the government insisted bidding proceed but promised that no contracts would be signed while discussions continued. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)

Suggested Tweet: Thai regime backpedals on Krabi #coal plant after @NoCoalKrabi locals say no https://t.co/ExlAt1UmKM

top news

Coal barges banned in bid to protect porpoises in Indonesia: Environmental groups have welcomed a decision by the East Kalimantan provincial administration to ban tugboats pulling coal barges in the Kedang Kepala River which is habitat for the critically-endangered Mahakam porpoise. Noise from the coal barges is believed to interrupt the porpoise’s hearing which is necessary for orientation in the muddy river. Large wake waves also damage breeding grounds for fish and shrimp, the porpoise’s main food sources. (Jakarta Post)


Amnesty urges Colombia to scrap land law: Amnesty International has urged the Colombian Government to repeal sections of Law 1753 which it and civil society groups argue could allow mining and other companies to gain legal title to lands “misappropriated through crimes under international law and human rights violations.” The law also allows the government to designate coal projects in Cesar Department as ‘Projects of National and Strategic Interest, which Amnesty argues could legitimise “land grabs and effectively deny the right to return to many of those forced out of their properties.” (Amnesty International)


Japanese Environment Minister opposes two more coal plants: The Japanese Minister for Environment, Yoshio Mochizuki, is likely to oppose two proposed new coal-fired power stations with a combined capacity of 3070 megawatts (MW). Mochizuki is reportedly concerned that the plants – a 1070 MW plant proposed by Chubu Electric Power Company and a 2000 MW plant promoted by Chiba-Sodegaura Energy Company – would undermine Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. In June Mochizuki opposed a 1200 MW coal-fired plant proposed by J-Power and Osaka Gas. (Bloomberg)

Thai Government rolls out razor wire for public meeting: The governor of Songkhla Province of southern Thailand, Thamrong Charoenkul, resorted to extraordinary security measures to block opponents of the proposed 2000 MW Thepha power station and coal import terminal from attending a two-day public hearing on the project. 1500 troops and police along with a razor wire barrier were deployed to block a protest from nearing the building where the hearing was held. Only 60 pre-registered mostly pro-plant citizens were allowed into the hearing. (Bangkok Post, Bangkok Post)


BHP Billiton presses ahead with new Indonesian project: BHP Billiton says it intends to proceed with its Haju coal mine in Central Kalimantan despite concerns about the impact on rainforests, orangutans and nearby villagers. The Haju mine, which is scheduled to produce 1 Mtpa of metallurgical coal, is a part of the potentially massive IndoMet Coal Project. BHP Billiton holds a 75 per cent stake in the project with Adaro Energy holding the remainder. (Sydney Morning Herald, CoalSwarm)


Czech Republic mine expansion threatens thousands: The proposal by Czech Republic’s trade and industry minister, Jan Mladek, to overturn limits on lignite mines in North Bohemia threatens the homes and jobs of thousands of residents. The possible expansion of the Czechoslovak Army (CSA) mine, one of the options being considered, would result in the demolition of the towns of Horni Jiretin and Litinov, the hamlet of Cernice and the chemical factory in Zaluzi which employs 4000. (Deutsche Welle)

“A large share of energy demand today is met with technologies that were deployed in the nineteenth century. This was a time before air travel. A time before cinema, before radio. It was a time when we didn’t know about plate tectonics, had barely begun to scratch the surface of quantum theory, and had only just discovered radioactivity,”

said Maria van der Hoeven, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency.

news

Australia: Draft EIS released for Macmines Austasia’s 38 Mtpa China Stone mine in Galilee Basin.


Iran: Government touts coal projects at post-sanctions European Union investment conference.


Sri Lanka: Losing bidders lodge appeals against coal supply contract for Lakvijaya power plant.

US: Coal industry lobbying expenditure drops by one-quarter over last year to US$3.1 million.


US: Court imposes US$250 million fraud judgment against two Chinese former Puda Coal executives.


Zimbabwe: China State Construction Engineering Corporation contracted for 600 MW Lusulu plant.

“The government’s energy policy has been in most instances to simply extend the policies, methods and strategies of a different age. Thailand is no longer striving to enter the industrial age. Indeed, with proper leadership and careful, people-oriented policies, it can simply bypass that filthy, polluting era and enter the technological age … there are numerous choices, and building a power plant on the lovely Krabi shoreline is the worst. The prime minister should listen carefully to the alternatives,”

stated an editorial in the Bangkok Post.

companies + markets

Indian Minister estimates coal imports to fall in 2016: The Indian Minister for Coal and Power, Piyush Goyal, has told Parliament that coal imports could fall by up to three per cent in the year to April 2016 due to increasing domestic production. If so, imports would be 210 million tonnes. The Central Electricity Authority reports that coal stocks at 100 power plants have tripled compared to a year ago. (Reuters, Platts)


Chinese investor goes cold on deal with Mongolian miner: The Mongolian coal mining company SouthGobi Resources is struggling to stay afloat after Citic Merchant decided against investing US$28.7 million in the company.  At the end of June SouthGobi Resources had only US$900,000 in cash reserves and had negotiated a July 27 deadline to repay US$7.9 million to China Investment Corporation. The company is also facing being delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company owns the Ovoot Tolgoi open-cut mine and three deposits near the border between Mongolia and China. (South China Morning Post, SouthGobi Resources)


Government scrambles to bailout Polish coal company: After weeks of discussions with a dozen government-owned companies the Polish Government has received bids from only three companies willing to become shareholders in a US$1.59 billion fund to bailout the near-bankrupt coal mining company, Kompania Weglowa (KW). One of the three potential investors in KW – the largest coal miner in the European Union – is the utility PGE. The government fears the collapse of KW would cripple its re-election prospects at the October election. (Reuters)

US coal freeway stalls due to coal slump:The proposed 181 kilometre-long four-lane Coalfields Expressway in West Virginia and Virginia – which was to be funded by the sale of coal mined along the road route – has been has put on hold due to the slump in coal prices. The Coalfields Expressway Authority, a West Virginia government agency, said the project would not proceed unless coal prices increased. The proposed expressway has been dubbed by environmentalists as a “mountaintop removal mine in disguise.” (Bluefield Daily-Telegraph)


Indonesian coal exports plummet: Coal exports from Indonesia to China have fallen by almost half – to 14 million tonnes – in the first six month of 2015. Chinese coal imports have dropped by 38 per cent in the first half of the year. The Indonesian Coal Mining Association, which represents the largest coal producers, is pinning its hopes for increased demand on President Widodo’s proposal to build up to 20,000 MW of coal plants in the next five years. (Bloomberg)


Vale’s Mozambique project flounders: The collapse of the near-completed coal stacker at Vale’s new coal terminal at the port of Nacala has thrown the company’s plan to increase exports from its Moatize mine into disarray. Repairs could take months. Vale had planned to increase exports once the existing sections of the Nacala rail corridor were upgraded later this year. While the mine has a nominal 11 Mtpa capacity, the company reports that thermal coal production is down 16 per cent on the same time last year and at current coal prices the project is losing money. (Vale, Reuters)

resources

The Bliss of Ignorance, groundWork/Friends of the Earth International, July 2015. (Video)


This 29-minute video documents the impact on public health caused by Eskom’s fleet of coal-fired power stations in the Mpumalanga region of South Africa.


Powering Up Against Poverty: Why Renewable Energy is the Future, Oxfam Australia, July 2015. (Pdf)


This report details why renewable energy better serves the energy poor and critiques the Australian Government’s preoccupation with promoting coal power.

take action

Petition against Kenya’s first coal plant

The community group Save Lamu  is calling on Governor Issa Timamy to support renewable energy instead of what would be the country’s first coal power station. Save Lamu opposes the proposed power station and associated port development on the grounds that they pose significant health and environmental risks, including to the World Heritage-listed Lamu Old Town. The petition is here.