CoalWire 134, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016

editor’s note

The magnitude of the ‘Break Free’ protests reflects the rapidly growing movement against coal and other fossil fuel projects at a time when climate records are being smashed at an alarming rate. The coal industry is also facing challenges in courtrooms from Romania to India, while in Colombia the environmental regulator has suspended the operating permit for the Santa Marta coal port due to excessive pollution. In Sri Lanka the government is reportedly considering dropping its plan for the Indian-sponsored Sampur coal plant, the site of recent protests. The global coal industry shakeout continues the Korean Government’s loss-making coal company set to be substantially restructured or closed altogether.

Bob Burton

features

As drought grips South Africa, conflict grows over coal industry’s thirst

The deepening drought in South Africa is fuelling increasing resistance to supplying scarce water to coal mines and power plants, writes Keith Schneider in Yale 360.

Tweet: As drought grips #SouthAfrica, a conflict over #water and #coal http://bit.ly/22dDtyD @YaleE36 @modeshift

Coal and coral shouldn’t mix, but they do when ships sink

The sinking of a coal-laden ship near the coral reefs of the south-western coast of Madagascar comes as a new scientific study warns of the toxic effects of coal on coral, seagrass and fish,writes Bob Burton in EndCoal.

Tweet: #Coal and #coral shouldn’t mix, but they do when ships sink

Given 30 days to move for coal mine, Romanian villagers sue government

Just before Christmas last year, villagers in Runcurel, Romania were given 30 days to leave their homes to make way for a coal mine, but now they are suing the government, writes Claudia Ciobanu, in Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Tweet: Given 30 days to move for #coal mine, villagers sue government of #Romania http://tmsnrt.rs/1Tn1O1f

campaigns

Global ‘Break Free’ protests

The ‘Break Free’ series of protests and civil disobedience actions over a two-week period included protests against coal plants, infrastructure and companies in Australia, Germany, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, Turkey, the UK and South Africa amongst others.  “Our movement is stronger than ever, but to beat the odds, we have to grow stronger,” said Naomi Klein. (Guardian, 350.org)

Tweet: @350.org gallery on ‘Break Free’ protests against #coal & #fossilfuels https://breakfree2016.org/ #breakfree2016

Showdown looms between court, Coal India and power utilities over high-ash coal

Ratnadeep Rangari, a resident of Koradi in Maharashtra state, told the National Green Tribunal the health of residents living near Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power plants in Maharashtra was being damaged by the continued use of high ash content coal. In January 2014 a directive by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF) required the use of coal with an ash content of lower than 34 per cent. The NGT agreed with Rangari and in October 2015 ruled Coal India and Maharashtra power utilities should ensure compliance with the standard. They ignored the tribunal’s ruling. Now the tribunal has given the coal and power utilities until July 13 to explain why their permits to operate mines and power stations should not be cancelled. (The Hitavada, Times of India)

Tweet: Showdown looms between court & #CoalIndia over #coal pollution http://bit.ly/1WBR8zv #India

top news

Colombian coal port on hold due to pollution: Colombia’s environmental regulator has suspended the operating permit for Santa Marta coal terminal after an inspection revealed it was in breach of pollution control standards. The company’s permit was suspended on May 12 until breaches of standards identified during the inspection, including the height of the coal stacks and loading and unloading procedures, are rectified. (El Tiempo)


Sri Lankan Government backs away from Sampur coal plan: Following public protests against the proposed 500 megawatt (MW) Sampur coal plant, a state-run newspaper has reported the Sri Lankan Government has suspended work on the project pending a May 20 meeting to discuss a gas-fired plant as an alternative. The plant has been proposed by a joint venture of NTPC of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board and strongly backed by the Indian Government as a strategic response to the Chinese-backed Norochcholai Power Station which was commissioned in September 2014.  (Colombo Page)

Japanese coal plans have heavy death toll attached: Greenpeace estimates between 10,000 and 26,000 premature deaths could be caused over 40 years by the 25 coal plants proposed to be built near two major Japanese cities – Tokyo and Osaka. Greenpeace assumes the proposed plants are far more efficient and less polluting than older ones, but concludes the additional sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides and particulate matter pollution would significantly affect the health of residents of nearby cities. (EnergyDesk)

news

Bangladesh: Police arrest leader of protest against Chittagong coal plant at which four were killed.


Denmark: Copenhagen divests from companies with over 5 per cent of revenue from fossil fuels.

US: After damning audit report, funding suspended for Texas Clean Energy Project CCS plant.


US: Experts doubt Gateway Pacific’s coal export plan capable of surviving treaty rights decision.

“I do not think that this is cyclical. I think that the price of electricity [In Europe] has no reason to rise. It will never be like it was before,”

said Isabelle Kocher, the new CEO of Engie, the world’s largest independent power producer.

companies + markets

Korean coal mining set to fall further:Korea Coal Corporation is set to be restructured, with the government considering the closure of some or all of its remaining five coal mines. The government denies a final decision has been taken and insists closure could only proceed with the agreement of workers. However, demand for coal-briquettes has been declining and the government-owned company has accumulated losses of US$85 million.  The company’s five mines produced just 1.7 million tonnes in 2015, down from the over 300 mines in the country which produced over 24 million tonnes in 1989. (Korea Herald)


Test shipments of Mozambique thermal coal: With the commissioning in January of Vale’s Moatize to Nacala railway, trial shipments of thermal coal have been sent to India and Europe. The shipments reflect a determination to move stockpiled thermal coal, even though the seller is covering the freight costs. The high-ash content and high trace element levels may result in little interest from buyers in South Korea, Japan and China. (Platts)


Lenders brace for fight over Australian coal terminal: The eight coal company owners of the Wiggins Island Coal Terminal, which includes Glencore, are reported to be considering voluntary administration for the joint venture in order to force lenders to write-down their debts. The 19 senior lenders which provided US$3 billion for the coal terminal are also appointing an adviser to resist the coal exporters’ plan. The terminal, which has a capacity to export 27 million tonnes of coal per annum, shipped its first cargoes in May 2015. (The Australian)

Chinese, US coal production and Indian imports fall: Indian coal imports this calendar year have fallen 18.7 per cent compared to the preceding year. In the first four months of 2016, Chinese power generation grew by only 0.5 per cent with thermal power generation dropping by 3.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2015.  US domestic coal production has fallen by one-third in 2016. (Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis)


Indian Government rejects Reliance Power bid to mortgage coal block: The Indian Government has rejected a request from Reliance Power to be allowed to mortgage coal blocks allocated for the 4000 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project to 14 banks which funded the project. Reliance had claimed the mortgage over the blocks was a pre-requisite for the US$2.2 billion loan for the project but the government determined there was no mention of a mortgage in the contract documents or power purchase agreement. (Economic Times)

resources

Subsidizing Lignite Plants Would Create Risks for the Turkish Economy and Undermine Investment in Less Expensive Alternatives, May 17, 2016.

This article details the major flaws in proposed amendments to Turkey’s electricity law which are aimed at financially supporting coal-fired power plants over cleaner alternatives.