CoalWire 132, May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

editor’s note

A two-week series of global events against coal and other fossil fuel projects, under the Break Free from Fossil Fuels banner, has kicked off with two protests: a day-long occupation of the UK’s largest open-cut coal mine and a mass rally in Batangas City against proposed coal plants in the Philippines. Other actions are planned in Australia, Indonesia, Germany, Turkey, South Africa and other countries  this week and next. Disruption of the coal industry is occurring on other fronts too: water shortages threaten to force the closure of more Indian coal plants while Coal India is finally cutting production due to a domestic coal glut. Meanwhile, Colombian coal, increasingly shunned in Europe, is now being pushed into the Pacific market, further undermining the prospects for new and existing projects in Australia, Indonesia and the West Coast of the US.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor

features

Peabody Energy’s contrarian witnesses lose their case over the cost of coal

An administrative law judge has rejected arguments from Peabody Energy and three high-profile climate contrarians and agreed that the social cost of coal used by the Minnesota Government was too low, writes Dr John Abraham in the Guardian.

Tweet: #Peabody’s contrarian scientist witnesses lose their case over the cost of #coal http://bit.ly/23jJetn #climate

Dubai’s solar price plunge spells big trouble for coal

The price of large-scale solar PV power plants has plunged further with the winning bid at an auction of solar capacity in Dubai coming in just below three US cents per kilowatt hour (c/kwh) compared to over 4.5 c/kwh the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority recently agreed to for the Hassyan coal plant, writes Giles Parkinson in RenewEconomy.

Tweet: Dubai #solar auction price comes in at <3 c/kwh, 30% less than Hassyan #coal plant http://bloom.bg/1riMObd

campaigns

Protest shuts UK’s largest open cut mine

A colourful day-long occupation involving 300 protestors shut the Ffos-y-fran mine in Wales down for a day. The mine operator, Miller Argent, is seeking to expand the mine despite long-running opposition from the local community. The protest, which was held two days before the Wales election, is the first in a series of ‘Break Free from Fossil Fuels’ protests scheduled to occur in 13 countries over the next two weeks: (Guardian)

Tweet: Protest shuts Ffos-y-fran #coal mine in Wales down for the day Story: http://bit.ly/1OcHN9l  Pics: http://bit.ly/1TkRLH9 #breakfree2016

Tweet: Mass protests against #coal kick off in #Wales & #Philippines https://breakfree2016.org/ #breakfree2016

top news

Indian state government bans protest:Police in Chhattisgarh state banned a May 2 protest planned by villagers displaced by the Gevra and Deepka mine projects of South Eastern Coalfields Limited, a Coal India subsidiary. Villagers and farmers from 30 villages had announced plans to block the transport of coal from the mines to nearby power stations in support of their claims for compensation for land acquired for the projects. (Press Trust of India)


Drought hits Adani’s Indian plant: Some or all of the five 660 megawatt (MW) units at Adani Power’s Tiroda plant in Maharashtra may be forced to shut down within a week due to lack of water. Maharashtra, which gets 20 per cent of its power from the plant, is lobbying the Madhya Pradesh Government to release water from the Bawanthadi dam to keep the plant operating. Two other smaller plants in Maharashtra, the 130 MW Parli plant and at least a third of the 600 MW Warora plant, have already been closed due to lack of water. (Times of India, Mining Weekly)


Study suggests coal will increase Asian droughts: Increased sulphur dioxide and black carbon aerosol emissions from a high-coal use scenario in Asia may have the effect of weakening monsoonal rainfall especially in south and east Asia. While the modelling suggested increased rainfall in some areas, such as Australia, it found reductions in more areas than increases. However, the study did not model the effects caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions. (MIT News, Journal of Climate)

Philippines archbishop urges break with coal: Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has urged voters to elect “leaders who are pro-people and pro-environment, not pro-coal and pro-climate change” at the May 9 Philippines general election. Arguelles was speaking at the 10,000-strong ‘Break Free from Fossil Fuels 2016’ protest march against a proposed 600-megawatt coal plant in Batangas City. (UCAnews, Common Dreams)


Draft EIS on new US terminal raised red flags: The proposed 44 million tonnes-a-year Longview coal export terminal in Washington state would have “significant and adverse” impact on the climate, according to the draft environmental impact statement (EIS). The Power Past Coal coalition argues the review is inadequate and places its faith in unproven mitigation measures to address health and environmental impacts. The draft EIS is open for public comment until June 13, with a final EIS likely to be released in 2017. (Seattle Times, Climate Progress)


Push for study on Oakland export plan challenged: The No Coal in Oakland coalition has challenged the push by Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio for Oakland City Council to hire a consultant with no public health expertise to review the proposed export of coal through the port in Oakland. The Sierra Club expressed concern the time taken on a review would delay the council voting on a proposed ban on exports until after the council election in November.(East Bay Express)

news

Bangladesh: Salvage operation begins 40 days after coal barge sank in the Sundarbans.


India: Seven killed by hot water pipe explosion at Adani’s Mundra plant; 6 more hospitalised.


India: May 11 court hearing to detail‘Coalscam’ charges against Chairman of Jindal Steel and Power.

Laos: Vietnamese company to explore for coal in northeastern province of Huaphan.


UK: Group argues Aberthaw power plantimposes costs of US$587 million more than benefits.


US: Louisana officials agree to reconsiderpermit for proposed Plaquemines coal terminal.

“It is clear that the dynamics of the coal industry have permanently changed, where coal used to provide base load generation, it is now much more variable depending on power demand, renewable output and the price of natural gas,”

said Colin Marshall, the President and Chief Executive Officer of US coal producer Cloud Peak Energy on an investor conference call.

companies + markets

Colombian coal enters Asian market:Large cargoes of Colombian thermal coal are being sold into the Asian market for the first time as European and North American demand falls. Colombian coal has recently been sold to the South Korean utility East-West Power, with prices between US$5-8 per tonne cheaper than Australian coal. The expansion of the Panama Canal, which is due to be completed in June, is also likely to facilitate increased sales of Colombian coal into the Pacific market. (Reuters)


Peabody’s Australian mines face uncertain times: Peabody Energy Australia’s auditor has warned of “significant uncertainty” about the viability of the company as a US$250 million inter-company loan may not be enough to cover ongoing costs. While Peabody Energy Australia was excluded from the US bankruptcy of its parent company, the company’s accounts state the enforcement of contractual rights over Australian assets would affect its ability to keep mines operating. Peabody Energy Australia operates nine mines in NSW and Queensland. (The Australian)


Czech coal company files for insolvency: OKD, the largest private hard coal producer in the Czech Republic, has filed for insolvency after the government refused to bail out bondholders of its parent company, the London-based New World Resources. OKD has $723 million in debts, most of which is owed to the parent company. The government of the Czech Republic has stated it will seek to keep as many of the company’s 13,000 workers employed as possible. OKD produces about 8 million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year from three active mines. (Reuters, Bloomberg)

Coal India slows production to ease glut:Coal India has cut production as stockpiles at its mines and buyers’ power stations have reached over 91 million tonnes. While stockpiles at the company’s mines declined marginally during April, it has continued to strip overburden to expose new coal seams in readiness for increased production. However, the company remains concerned about the risk of major fires starting in stockpiles during the hot summer months.(Economic Times, Mining Weekly)


Norwegian wealth fund set to dump more coal: Norway’s sovereign wealth fund may sell shareholdings this year of a further 40 companies with major coal interests, mostly power companies. Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the Government Pension Fund Global, has indicated the names of the additional companies it divests from will be made public in October 2016.  (Reuters)


Inspector General critical of Texas CCS plant: The US Department of Energy’s Inspector General has criticised the agency’s support for Summit Texas Clean Energy’s proposed US$2.6 billion 400 MW Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plant with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Part-way through an audit of the Department’s expenditure of US$116 million on the project the Inspector General has issued an interim report expressing alarm over the agency’s willingness to increase expenditure on the project “without assurances that it would succeed.” (US Department of Energy)

resources

“Listen To U.S. Coal Production Fall Off A Cliff,” Inside Energy, May 3, 2016.


What does the dramatic decline of US coal production sound like? Inside Energy has taken weekly US coal production data and put it to sound – with a useful accompanying overview as well.