CoalWire 121, February 18, 2016

February 18, 2016

editor’s note

What a week!  Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission reported that hundreds of illegal coal-mining licences had been cancelled over the past 18 months, Colombia’s courts banned mining in crucial sub-alpine ecosystems which supply clean water to millions of people and a proposed power plant in the Philippines has been vetoed.

Meanwhile turmoil grows as Anglo American flags an exit from mines in Australia, South Africa and Colombia, Goldman Sachs predicts a big fall in the price of thermal coal, the coal industry’s favoured consultant Wood MacKenzie describes proposed new US export ports as irrelevant and high risk and an Indian utility executive explains that increased wind power is cutting coal generation.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor

features

How Indonesia is cracking down on coal mine corruption

In a crackdown on illegal mining Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission has revoked hundreds of coal-mining licences, write the Anti-Mining Mafia Coalition, a coalition of Indonesian NGO’s.

Tweet: #Indonesia’s anti-#corruption commission revokes hundreds of #coal mine licenses http://bit.ly/1Tl5ZeJ

China’s coal cuts policy more ambitious than expected

The final version of China’s strategy to cut coal production is more ambitious than expected, increasing the target from 700 million tonnes to one billion tonnes, writes Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace International.

Tweet: @laurimyllyvirta @Energydesk #China’s #coal cuts policy – at 1 billion tonnes plus – more ambitious than expected bit.ly/1TZrbrq

The bell tolls for GVK Hancock’s Galilee Basin projects

GVK Hancock’s plan to exploit deposits containing over 7 billion tonnes of coal in the Galilee Basin is all but officially dead writes Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Tweet: The bell tolls for GVK Hancock’s Galilee Basin projects @bobburtonoz

campaigns

Colombia bans ‘paramo’ mining

After a campaign by local communities, Colombia has banned coal mining in the sub-alpine tundra known locally as the ‘paramo’. The paramo are ecologically rich and play an important role in protecting water quality for millions of people living in downstream cities. In one decision, Colombia’s highest environmental authority directed Hunza Coal to shut one of its three pits and to present a restoration plan within 45 days. In a separate case, Colombia’s constitutional court cancelled 347 mining licences in the region, including for coal projects, overturning a lower court decision allowing companies to continue their operations until the leases expired. (BBC,Greenpeace International)

Tweet: #Colombia bans #coal & other mining to protect #water supplies bit.ly/1KSHuUK

Philippines coal plant rejected

After a long and sustained campaign by environmental groups, the Philippines Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Ramon J.P. Paje, has vowed that “there will be no more coal power plants” built in the province of Palawan. DMCI Power Corporation had proposed a 15 megawatt (MW) plant on the island. While the proposed plant was small, the decision is a significant victory for local groups and the national environmental movement. There are 32 other plants proposed in the country. (Business Mirror)

Tweet: Community campaign defeats proposed Palawan #coal plant in the #Philippines bit.ly/1U8nTly

“Building new Pacific Northwest [US] coal ports, once seen as essential, is now viewed as nothing more than a risky long-term bet,”

writes Andy Roberts from the coal industry consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Tweet: New Pacific Northwest #US #coal ports viewed as “nothing more than a risky long-term bet”  says Wood Mackenzie bit.ly/1RHBT5d

top news

Coal major contributor to air pollution death toll: New research estimates that in 2013, 1.6 million people died of air pollution in China, with coal burning the biggest contributor. Qiao Ma, from Tsinghua University in China, estimates air pollution could cause anywhere from 990,000 to 1.3 million premature deaths in 2030 unless even more ambitious coal and other emissions reduction targets are introduced. In India 1.4 million people died prematurely in 2013 with industrial coal burning a major source along with the burning of farm waste and household air pollution. (University of British Colombia)


Thai military regime’s coal push may increase instability: Community advocates believe that the military regime’s determination to force through the proposed 2200 MW Thepa coal plant in southern Thailand, bypassing normal planning procedures, risks increasing violent conflict in the country’s southern provinces. The proposed plant would require the relocation of about 240 families, two mosques and Muslim cemeteries, as well as a religious school and a Buddhist temple. Thailand’s southernmost provinces, where the plant has been proposed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, have been subject to increasing conflict between the military, armed groups and the predominantly Muslim population. (The Nation)

Role for President’s son in South African coal deal: Controversy over the sale of Glencore’s Optimum mine, which supplies an Eskom power station, has grown after it was revealed that President Jacob Zuma’s son has a stake in the joint venture company buying the mine. Debate over the deal had originally erupted after it was revealed the mine was to be sold to Tegeta Exploration & Resources, a joint venture company in which the Gupta family – known for a close personal friendship with President Zuma – has a major stake. Tegeta will have three coal supply contracts with Eskom after the takeover is completed. (Bloomberg, Bloomberg)


NSW Gov’t warned of mine risk to water supply: WaterNSW, a government-owned water supply utility, has warned that the extension of the Russel Vale underground metallurgical coal mine could result in the loss of up to 7.3 million litres of water a day from the Lake Cataract catchment. Wollongong Coal, which is owned by the Indian-headquartered Jindal Steel and Power, is seeking permission for eight new longwall panels to extract 4.7 million tonnes of coal a year. (ABC News)

news

Australia: Public meeting of over 900 Kingaroy residents vote unanimously against proposed mine.


India: Coal pollution protest leads to cancellation of public hearing on new coal washery in Odisha.

UK: Residents object to proposed open cut mine near Druridge Bay in Northumberland.


US: Executive of company behind toxic coal chemical spill sentenced to one month in prison.

“Unlike most other commodities, thermal coal is unlikely to experience another period of tightness ever again because investment in new coal-fired generation is becoming less common and the implied decline in long-term demand appears to be irreversible,”

wrote Goldman Sachs analysts.

Tweet: The “decline in long-term thermal #coal demand appears to be irreversible” says Goldman Sachs bloom.bg/1PO2QzE #endcoal

companies + markets

Wind curbs coal in India: A senior manager at the NTPC has revealed that increasing wind generation is one of the reasons the utilisation rate of its coal plants has dropped by seven per cent in the last three years. A K Jha, director (technical) for NTPC, told a company conference that it had to briefly shut down three coal plants in Andhra Pradesh due to high wind generation. NTPC, a publicly-owned company, generates about one-quarter of India’s electricity. (Business Standard)


Goldman Sachs projects end-game for thermal coal: Goldman Sachs analysts estimate the long-term price for thermal coal will fall to US$42.50 a tonne due to over-supply in the seaborne market. The analysts argue that increasing Indian coal production is likely to result in the volume traded in the seaborne market falling 10 per cent by 2020. The analysts state the permanent closure of loss-making mines is likely “because demand is unlikely to recover in the long term.” (Bloomberg, SNL)


Peabody Energy inches closer to bankruptcy: Peabody Energy is reported to be in discussions with its creditors as it tries to avoid bankruptcy. The company has debt of US$6.3 billion, while the value of its shares has plummeted by 97 per cent over the last year. Fitch Ratings downgraded Peabody Energy’s credit rating on the grounds that it considered “default of some kind appears probable” in part due to reduced cash reserves, competition from bankrupt US coal producers and continued low prices for both thermal and metallurgical coal in the export market. (Wall Street Journal,  Fitch Ratings)

Engie may accelerate coal exit: The incoming CEO of Engie, Isabelle Kocher, is likely to accelerate the sale of the company’s coal plants as part of the sale of US$11-22 billion of global assets, according to anonymous sources close to the company. Kocher, who is currently deputy chief executive officer, takes up her new role in May. Details of Engie’s restructuring are likely to be revealed on February 25 when the company releases its annual results. (Financial Times)


India looks to cut met coal imports: India is looking to emulate its thermal coal strategy by increasing the domestic production of metallurgical coal in order to cut the growing cost of imports. Coal Secretary Anil Swarup has flagged the possibility that Coal India could enter into long-term supply agreements to divert medium-grade coking coal from power stations to supply steel companies.  However, the change may initially only cut imports by five to 10 per cent of the current  90 million tonnes. (Reuters)


Anglo dumps coal: As a part of its sweeping restructuring plan to slash its mines from 55 to just 16, Anglo American has announced it will sell two more Queensland metallurgical coal mines and could exit all its other Australian coal mines. Anglo has launched an open-tender process for the sale of its seven coal mines in South Africa. It has also discussed selling its one-third stake in the Cerrejon mine in Colombia. (Mining Weekly, Mining Weekly, Bloomberg)

resources

Global Wind Statistics 2015, Global Wind Energy Council, February 2016. (Pdf)

This 4-page report provides a detailed country-by-country breakdown on the amount of new wind power installed in 2015. This is a handy resource.