CoalWire 107, October 22, 2015

October 22, 2015

editor’s note

The coal industry’s hype would have us believe that the industry abides by tough standards. A number of legal challenges to coal industry projects over the last week show otherwise: a mine expansion rejected in Montana; an Indian power generator and regulator castigated for the burning of high-ash coal; a Pakistan court refusing to overturn an injunction on a new coal plant and two Canadian companies being charged over a massive 2013 tailings dam collapse.

features

Does another ill-fated overseas Indian coal adventure loom?

The Indian Government’s National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is hoping next week’s India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi will open doors for deals on export coal mines in Africa. The failure of Coal India and other Indian companies’ overseas coal-export projects should serve as a salutary lesson for NTPC, writes Bob Burton in EndCoal.

Tweet: Does another ill-fated overseas Indian #coal adventure loom? @bobburtonoz #India

The heavy toll of the Sasan plant in India

Reliance Power’s Sasan power project in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was touted as one which would deliver cheap energy and social and economic development. Partly funded by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the plant has turned out to be costly, polluting and devastating for displaced residents writes Shashank Bengali in the Los Angeles Times.

Tweet: The heavy toll of #ReliancePower’s #Sasan #coal plant in #India http://lat.ms/1VVmJHy

Unsolved Mysteries: Has Anyone Seen These Coal Reserves?

The valuation of coal companies largely rests on how many tonnes of coal they have which can be mined and sold at a profit. When the coal price falls, companies’ estimates of their reserves should fall too. Tom Sanzillo from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis finds otherwise.

Tweet: Unsolved mysteries: has anyone seen these #coal reserves? http://bit.ly/1LmqfYH

campaigns

Review panel overturns Montana mine expansion permit

The Montana Environmental Review Board has rejected a permit allowing Signal Peak Energy to double its Bull Mountain mine by gaining access to an additional 100 million tonnes of mineable coal. The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) argued that the state Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) analysis of the impact of the mine expansion on groundwater quality outside the mining area was flawed. Downstream ranchers rely on water from the Bull Mountains. The board’s decision requires the DEQ to reconsider the effects of the mine expansion on water quality outside the mine area and over a longer period than the 50 years previously assessed. (Billings Gazette, Western Environmental Law Center)

Tweet: Review panel rejects permit to allow doubling of Montana #coal mine http://bit.ly/1Gopsrl @MTEIC

Indian tribunal directs power companies to comply with coal quality standards

The National Green Tribunal has upheld a complaint by social activist, Ratandeep Rangari, and directed power generation companies comply with Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) standards banning the use of coal with an ash content of over 34 per cent. Rangari’s court petition followed a right to information request he filed which revealed that Maharashtra State Power Generation Company used coal at three of its plants with ash content ranging between over 46 and 49 per cent. The tribunal also directed MoEF to liaise with the State Pollution Control Boards to include the ash content specification as a condition of licences for all coal mines and power plants. The tribunal directed MoEF to submit a compliance report by January 1, 2016. (The Indian Express, National Green Tribunal)

Tweet: Indian tribunal directs power companies to comply with #coal quality standards bit.ly/1ZYkNmq #India

top news

Pakistan court rejects government appeal:The Lahore High Court has a rejected an appeal by the Punjab government against an injunction preventing work on the proposed 1320 megawatt (MW) Sahiwal plant. The injunction was granted pending a full hearing on October 29 on whether the proposed plant would be in breach of environmental laws. One of the petitioners against the proposed plant is Said Power Limited, which operates a nearby gas-fired power generator. (The Nation)


Alberta files charges over 2013 coal waste disaster: The Alberta Energy Regulator has filed six charges against Coal Valley Resources and Sherritt International over the October 2013 collapse of a coal mine tailings dam. It is estimated that 670 million litres of waste water spilled into tributaries of the Athabasca River affecting residents’ water supplies and First Nations’ hunting and fishing rights. The maximum fine if the companies are found guilty on all six charges would be US$1.5 million. The Alberta Wilderness Association argues the companies should also be charged under the federal Fisheries Act. (Calgary Herald, Alberta Energy Regulator)


Adani’s Galilee mine faces further challenges: Despite the federal government’s re-approval of Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine after an earlier decision was set aside by the Federal Court, the project is likely to face further legal challenges. Where the initial decision required the approval of the federal environment minister for any changes to Adani’s environmental management plans the latest conditions allow the company to amend their plans without requiring further authorisation. (ABC)

Czech Republic overturns one mine pit limit, leaves another: The Czech Government has decided to overturn a 1991 limit imposed on the Bilina mine and allow CEZ to begin planning for the mining of over 100 million tonnes more of lignite. However, two parties in the governing coalition insisted the mine come no closer than 500 metres to houses in two adjoining villages. Existing limits preventing the expansion of the CSA mine – which would require the demolition of three villages – remain but the company is pressing for a decision by 2020 on its proposed expansion. (Radio Prague, Prague Post)


Bangladesh police attack rally against Sundarbans plant: Over 25 people were left injured after police baton-charged a protest march against the proposed 1320 MW Rampal plant near the Sundarbans World Heritage Area. The police attack occurred during a five-day protest march from Dhaka to the Sundarbans. The plant is proposed by a joint venture of the Indian Government’s NTPC and the Bangladesh Power Development Board. (Dhaka Tribune, The Daily Star)

“At the World Coal Leaders Network conference in Barcelona this week there appeared to be a greater acceptance of coal’s diminishing role in power generation, the rising political and environmental obstacles the fuel faces and an acceptance that low prices are here to stay and the glory days ended in 2011,”

wrote Clyde Russell in Reuters.

news

Australia: Dunedoo, a town left stranded by a proposed mine which didn’t eventuate.


Colombia: Cerrejon’s security contractors blockade coal railway for five days in pay dispute.


New Caledonia: Proposed coal plant plan delayed as French nickel company aims to cut losses.

US: Environmental review of proposed Longview coal export terminal delayed until 2016.


US: Fitch Ratings warns of likely default on loans by Arch Coal and Peabody Energy.

companies + markets

Indian Government delays Coal India sale agents again: For the third time the Indian Government has delayed the appointment of up to five merchant banks to sell a 10 per cent stake in Coal India (CIL). The deferral follows the decision of some international banks, under pressure from Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network, to be involved in the sale after CIL failed to honour past environmental commitments. A government official confirmed that ‘sustainability plans’ CIL developed in 2013 have not been implemented. November 10 has been set as the new deadline for the appointment of banks to handle the sale. CIL produces 80 per cent of India’s domestic coal. (Hindu Business Line, Reuters)


India’s NTPC to revise business strategy: NTPC, which generates one-quarter of India’s electricity and is the largest power generator, has appointed KPMG to revise its long-term corporate plan to take account of factors such as the government’s push to increase renewables. NTPC has plans to install 10,000 MW in utility-scale solar capacity and buy power from a further 15,000 MW of privately-owned solar capacity. The utility complains that it currently has 5000 MW of generating capacity for which it has no market due to the financial crisis affecting India’s distribution companies, which are reluctant to buy additional power. (Governance Now)

Indian private power sector’s financial struggle: The credit ratings agency Moody’s notes that reduced demand for “expensive imported coal” has improved the finances of the Indian power sector. According to Coal Secretary, Anil Swarup, coal imports in September were 27 per cent lower compared to a year earlier due to increased domestic production.  Moody’s also notes that many independent power producers have experienced “average cost over-runs of 35% for many generating plants under construction.” (Moody’s, Reuters)


Private Polish miner speaks out against subsidies: The privately-owned coal mining company, PG Silesia, has complained that subsidies to prop up the government-owned Kompania Weglowa (KW) are undermining the domestic coal market. Ahead of the October 25 election the government has been seeking to avoid major job cuts at KW’s loss-making mines. PG Silesia argues that it can’t sell coal at a loss and the state-run power companies are not buying coal from private companies. (Reuters)

resources

Financing for coal power in Poland – a current and future health threat, Health and Environment Alliance, October 2015. (Pdf)


This 3-page briefing paper provides an excellent overview of the health costs of further potential Polish Government investments in new coal plants. The backgrounder uses the proposed coal plant in Leczna as an example. With the Polish general election scheduled for October 25, please promote this resource via social media.

Tweet: Financing for #coal power in #Poland – a current and future #health threat http://bit.ly/1LDt4m8 @HealthandEnv


A Line in the sand, EarthJustice, October 2015. (Video)


This powerful 5-minute video tells the story of the campaign by retired coal miner Gary Kuklish and other residents of La Belle in Pennsylvania against pollution from the nearby dump site for coal ash from a nearby coal power plant.

Tweet: A powerful video on a retired US #coal miner’s campaign against #coalash #pollution http://bit.ly/1jPyEdV

take action

Kick the fossil fuel industry out of climate policy

Corporate Accountability International has launched a global petition to the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to exclude the fossil fuel industry from the Paris climate negotiations.

The petition, which has been signed by over 363,000 people, is here.


 

Tell BNP Paribas to do the Climate Pledge

BNP Paribas is sponsoring this year’s climate talks in Paris. Meanwhile, it is one ofthe world’s top 10 investors of the coal industry, financing mines all over the world

Tweet: Tell @BNPParibas – show your commitment to climate action – do the #ParisPledge http://bit.ly/1X1TANv @SumOfUs