CoalWire 101, September 10, 2015

September 10, 2015
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editor’s note

The Russian coal industry has largely avoided the international scrutiny of its global counterparts. In this edition CoalWire takes a look at the Russian Government’s plans for the industry and examines a metallurgical coal project it has backed, which is close to collapsing.

The last week has also seen announcements of coal power plant closures in the UK and a raft of proposals in Myanmar temporarily put on the backburner. On top of that a coal port in India and a Norwegian mine are slated for closure while another mine in New Zealand has stalled. And the fall in Chinese coal imports seems increasingly likely to undermine demand for the Tavan Tolgoi mega-mine in Mongolia.

features

Russian coal is coming! Or is it?

“The warning signs abound for the Russian Government: coal exports have fallen this year, Chinese coal imports have plummeted and renewable electricity is fast becoming the preferred source of new power. Even so, the Russian government seemingly remains determined to press ahead with policies and investments aimed at expanding coal exports and domestic coal-fired power production. How far will they get?,” writes Bob Burton in EndCoal.

Suggested Tweet: Russian #coal is coming! Or is it? @bobburtonoz #Russia http://bit.ly/1Q0pgOI

A Russian Arctic Coal Dream Fades

“A plan by a small Australian-listed company to build two massive coal mines in the Russian Arctic is teetering on collapse as local indigenous landowners voice their concerns, the coal price continues to freefall and banks remain wary of funding the project,” writes Bob Burton in EndCoal.

Suggested Tweet: A Russian Arctic #coal dream fades http://bit.ly/1g8krGM @bobburtonoz #Russia

campaigns

Public opposition forces Indian coal terminal to close

Facing growing public opposition, the Mumbai Port Trust says it will end its coal handling operations at the Haji Bunder Port near Mumbai. Residents – backed by a series of articles inThe Times of India – challenged the operation over the environmental effects of the project and the impact of coal dust on the health of residents, fisherfolk and students at a nearby maritime institution. The 1.8 million tonne a year terminal was used to stockpile coal for trucking to local steel plants and the Nashik and Bhusawal power stations in the interior of Maharashtra state.  (The Times of India, CoalSwarm)

Suggested Tweet: Public opposition forces Mumbai Port Trust to close Sewri #coal terminal http://bit.ly/1M4isBI

top news

BHP Billiton starts work on new Indonesian mine: BHP Billiton has announced that it has started construction on a second metallurgical coal mine as part of its controversial IndoMet coal project in Central Kalimantan. The new mine is expected to be commissioned in 2017. Earlier this year BHP Billiton commissioned the 1 million tonne a year Haju mine, the first stage of the project, despite concern by local landowners and environmental groups. (Sydney Morning Herald, CoalSwarm)


Myanmar coal plants shelved until after election: A Ministry of Electric Power official says negotiations on coal power plants have been shelved until after the November 8 election. In 2010 the Ministry of Electric Power signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 11 coal plants, with others proposed since then. The proposals have stirred a public backlash over impacts on farmland and concerns about pollution. (Myanmar Times)


Coal India rebuffed over bid for assessment-free mine expansion: A Ministry of the Environment committee has rejected a request by Coal India to be allowed to expand its mines by as much as half without being subject to a public hearing. The committee rejected the request due to the economic impacts on local communities from rapid mine depletion and likely air pollution. Coal India argued that as it had faced opposition over proposed new mines, it needed to rapidly expand existing mines to meet its 2019-20 production target of 908 million tonnes. (NDTV)

Indian Government blocks Greenpeace’s foreign funding: In the latest move in its crackdown on civil society groups, the Indian Government has cancelled Greenpeace India’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA), which allows the organisation to receive international funding. The government’s decision came on the eve of a Greenpeace appeal in the Delhi High Court against a decision in April to suspend its FCRA registration for three months. Greenpeace India receives 70 per cent of its funding from domestic sources. (Press Trust of India, Guardian)


US coal companies give generously to Republicans: In the first seven months of 2015 Alpha Natural Resources – which filed for bankruptcy protection in August – was the biggest coal industry donor to candidates, contributing $191,575 through its Political Action Committee. In the first half of the year Arch Coal donated $135,250 and CONSOL Energy $120,850. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that in the last two election cycles, coal company PACs made 90 per cent of their contributions to Republican candidates and political advocacy groups. (SNL)


news

Australia: Inquiry told of increased deaths after Hazelwood mine fire.


New Zealand: Dairy giant Fonterra confirms new Mangatangi coal mine put on hold.


Nigeria: Power Purchase Agreement signed for first 300 megawatt (MW) phase of 1200 MW Itobe plant.

Norway: Store Norske to close loss-making Lunckefjell mine in Arctic Svalbard archipelago.


UK: Czech owners announce that 2000 MW Eggborough power station may close in March 2016.

companies + markets

Mongolian Minister says only small chance mega-mine will proceed: The proposed Tavan Tolgoi metallurgical coal mine has only a 10 per cent chance of being approved by the Mongolian parliament according to Mendsaikhan Enkhsaikhan, the minister negotiating with the mining consortium which includes Shenhua Energy and Sumitomo. In April the speaker of the parliament blocked the proposal while the rapid fall in Chinese coal imports has undermined the project’s primary market. (Reuters)


Chinese coal imports keep on falling: New data reveals that Chinese coal imports have dropped by 31.3 per cent in the first eight months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. The recent devaluation of the yuan against the US dollar will make the cost of imported coal higher and exports more attractive. In July Chinese coal exports were 530,000 tonnes, a 29.3 per cent increase over the previous month. (Reuters)


California law directs pension funds to divest: The California State Legislature has voted to require two public employee pension funds – CalPERS and CalSTRS – to sell US$200 million in stocks they own in companies which generate more than half their revenue from thermal coal companies by July 1, 2017. Governor Jerry Brown has until October 11 to accept or veto the bill. (Reuters, Guardian)

Poland approves fund to bail out coal company: The Polish Government has approved a plan to transfer part of its shareholdings in three government-owned companies into a US$370 million fund in order to raise loans to prop up the loss-making coal company Kompania Weglowa. Kompania Weglowa is Europe’s largest metallurgical coal producer. (Reuters)


India pushes coal generators to subsidise solar: The Indian Government has directed the publicly-owned NTPC to sell power from solar power plants bundled with cheaper power from coal plants which are more than 25 years-old. The policy is designed to reduce the wholesale price of solar power to accelerate its  deployment. By 2017 NTPC will have 8960 megawatts (MW) of plants which will have to comply with the policy. NTPC is also investigating the establishment of wind farms at three coal plants in Chhattisgarh.  (Bloomberg, NYOOZ)

resources

Coal: It’s an amazing thing, Minerals Council of Australia, September 2015.


This pro-coal advertisement by the Australian coal lobby became the target of much ridicule, including a spoof version. The Tree has a good backgrounder on the campaign.


Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials in Coals and Coal Combustion Residuals in the United States, Environmental Science & Technology, September 2, 2015. (Media release here.)


This study reviews the concentrations of radioactive elements in US coals and notes that as they are concentrated by between seven and ten times when burnt, there are significant questions about the environmental and human health implications in the management of coal ash waste.

take action

Twitter Storm: Crédit Agricole, stop Plomin C

Crédit Agricole has recently announced that it will no longer finance coal mines but it has an advisory mandate for the proposed Plomin C coal power plant in Croatia. Please join a Twitter storm on Thursday September 10.

Suggested Tweet: Three months ahead of #COP21, @Credit_Agricole is still supporting #coal power plants #StopPlominC