CoalWire 108, October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015

editor’s note

This week there are some gains and setbacks for campaigns to curtail the use of coal. In Poland a new pro-coal government has been elected while in the US a court has directed a government agency to do a fresh environmental review on a mine expansion. In Vietnam debate over more coal continues with the former head of the government’s geological service arguing renewables are preferable and cheaper than coal.

features

Poland elects new pro-coal Government – what’s next?

The election of a new pro-coal government raises many questions about Polish coal policy and its impact on European climate policy, writes Krystina Shveda in Greenpeace’s EnergyDesk. (A good pre-election overview on Polish politics was published in The Conversation.)

Tweet: Poland elects new pro-#coal Government – what’s next? http://bit.ly/1LymEac @KrystinaShveda

Will South Korea back away from coal and embrace renewables?

South Korea’s mantle as a promoter of a green economic transition has slipped as policies promoting an expansion of coal power domestically and overseas have gained prominence, writes Erich Pica from Friends of the Earth US in Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh.

Tweet: Will South Korea back away from coal and embrace renewables? http://bit.ly/1WePuVh

Reduced role for coal likely in China’s next five-year plan

As China’s leadership gathers to draft the country’s next five-year plan, a range of new data points to a diminishing role for coal, writes Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.

Tweet: Reduced role for #coal likely in #China’s next five-year plan http://bit.ly/1PSMAR5 @ieefa_institute

campaigns

US Court stalls expansion of Montana mine

A federal judge has ruled that the Department of Interior should not have approved the expansion of Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek Coal mine in Montana without undertaking a more thorough review of the environmental impacts. WildEarth Guardians appealed against the Department’s 2012 approval of the mine expansion. US Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby found the department had not advertised the expansion application nor could provide justification for its view that the expansion would have little environmental impact. The department has 180 days to reconsider the expansion. (WildEarth Guardians, Casper Star-Tribune)

Tweet: US Court tells Dept of Interior to reconsider #Montana #coal mine expansion plan http://bit.ly/1PRaXOW @wildearthguard

top news

Ex-head of Vietnam’s mining agency backs renewables: The former head of the Vietnamese Government’s Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, Dr Nguyen Xuan Khien, has warned renewable energy may be cheaper to develop than new coal power plants. Khien stated that while new coal plants have pollution controls, these are often turned off until inspectors visit. Khien believes Vietnam’s geothermal potential should be reconsidered. (VietnamNet)


BHP Billiton challenged over coal and climate: Representatives of communities affected by BHP Billiton’s Cerrejon mine in Colombia raised concerns at the annual general meeting about the forced relocation of residents and the lack of implementation of agreements. The company sought to defend its development of the IndoMet Coal Project in Central Kalimantan on the grounds that if it didn’t develop the project another company would. Asked to provide access to BHP Billiton’s reports on the project, the company’s CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, gave no commitment other than that he would consider the issue. (London Mining Network, Sydney Morning Herald)


Indian agency eases coal ash rules:Following a lobbying campaign by the Association of Power Producers, representing private power generators such as Adani and Tata Power, a panel of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has recommended the allowable coal ash content in imported coal be doubled from 12 to 25 per cent. The recommendation, if adopted, would overturn MoEF’s 2012 decision to impose the 12 per cent threshold to limit pollution. (DNA)

US and Japan negotiating deal on coal financing: The US and Japanese Governments are reported to have reached an agreement on restricting the financing of overseas coal projects. An agreement will increase pressure on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to agree to new rules restricting coal financing from export credit agencies at its meeting in Paris in November. However, it is reported that Australia and South Korea are resisting the proposed changes. (ClimateWire)


Loan for Oakland export terminal under legal review: The legality of the proposed US$53 million loan for the proposed 4.5 – 5.5 Mtpa Oakland coal export terminal is being reviewed by the Utah Attorney-General. Environmental groups argue that the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board was established with funds from mineral leases to invest in community infrastructure such as roads and schools.  The groups argue it would be illegal to spend the funds for the benefit of a private company on an interstate port development. (East Bay Express)


Queensland Government submits new Abbot Point EIS: The Queensland Government has submitted a new environmental impact statement in support of an application for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal. A new terminal would enable the export of coal from Adani and GVK’s proposed Galilee Basin mines. The Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has eight weeks to decide on the proposal. (ABC News, Greenpeace)

“It was cheaper to pay the fines than the cost of preventing violations,”

testified Performance Coal Company President Chris Blanchard in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on charges of conspiring to break federal mine safety laws. The prosecutors argue that breaches of mine safety standards caused the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine on April 10, 2010 which killed 29 miners.

news

Germany: Czech company warned buying Vattenfall’s coal mines and plants comes with big risks.


Mongolia: Japan agrees to help develop infrastructure for Tavan Tolgoi mine.


Pakistan: China agrees to expand proposed Thar coal plant by 660 megawatt (MW) unit.

UK: Nine arrested for shutting down coal mine of Matt Ridley, sceptic member of House of Lords.


US: Sierra Club challenges coal ash transport on barges up Ohio and Monongahela rivers.


US: Appeal lodged against decision allowing coal leasing without environmental impact study.

companies + markets

Coal India sale reduced and possibly delayed: With limited interest from international banks in the sale of a 10 per cent stake of Coal India, the Department of Disinvestment is reported to be considering cutting the sale to a five per cent stake or delaying it until next financial year. Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network have campaigned against the sale. (Financial Express, Financial Express)


Rio Tinto’s NSW mine expansion approved: The New South Wales Government’s Planning Assessment Commission review panel has recommended the approval of Rio Tinto’s proposed Mt Thorley Warkworth mine’s 10 million tonnes per annum expansion. The local community group, the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association, has previously won two legal challenges which were overturned after lobbying campaigns by Rio Tinto. The association has vowed to continue to oppose the project while Rio Tinto is negotiating the possible sale of its NSW coal assets including the mine. (Sydney Morning Herald, Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association)

Zimbabwe approves coal deals: The Zimbabwe Investment Authority has issued investment licences to the Dangote Group for a coal mine, a power station and a cement plant. The Dangote Group has major cement manufacturing operations in Africa but currently no coal mines. The founder of the company, Aliko Dangote, is a Nigerian billionaire and described as Africa’s richest man. (The Herald, Bloomberg)


Teck takes huge write-down on met coal assets: Teck Resources has written down the value of its metallurgical coal assets by US$1.5 billion due to its expectation that long-term prices will be substantially lower than previously estimated. The Canadian company warns that it doesn’t expect prices to recover until further production cuts are made. Teck Resources is the world’s second largest exporter of metallurgical coal. (Globe and Mail, Teck Resources)

resources

Lost in transition: How the energy sector is missing potential demand destructionCarbon Tracker Initiative, October 2015.


This report argues that major energy forecasts – including those by the International Energy Agency and the US Energy Information Administration – overestimate future demand for fossil fuels and substantially underestimate the growth of renewables.