CoalWire 9, 24th October 2013

campaigns

Protests lead to rebuff for Thai coal plant proposal

On October 17 the anti-coal network of Khao Hinsorn Sub-District in Chachoengsao Province of Thailand celebrated a victory when the Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) for the proposed 600 megawatt (MW) Khao Hinsorn coal-power plant was rejected for a second time. Hundreds of villagers rallied at the state environmental agency demanding that the government reject the impact assessment and cancel plans for the coal plant, presenting a petition with more than 6,000 signatures. Their wishes were met when the government’s environmental expert panel rejected the EHIA report and requested the company to resubmit it if it wished to proceed with the plant.

Pressure builds for moratorium on new Philippines coal plants

As part of the Global Day of Action on Coal, on October 22 , thousands of Filipinos from 15 sites facing coal proposals in 13 provinces across the country took to the streets to call for a national moratorium on all coal projects. At least 21 coal plants totalling 8,200 MW are planned for the Philippines, and permits have been issued for 60 new coal mines.

top news

China: A winter-time ‘airpocalypse’ has enveloped the city of Harbin with PM2.5 particle readings reaching 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, forty times higher than deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. City officials blamed the pollution in part on the start-up of the city’s coal-fired central heating system. Public protests over widespread air pollution earlier this year has prompted provincial and national governments to announce measures to cut coal consumption. (New York Times,Time, People’s Daily)

China: The city of Shanghai will phase out coal burning to cut PM2.5 pollution by 20% by 2017. The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau has announced that over 2,500 boilers and 300 industrial furnaces using coal will be closed down or converted to gas by 2015 and coal-firing banned in 2017. (China Daily)

India: The Power Finance Corporation has cancelled the call for tenders for the proposed 4,000 MW Surguja Ultra Mega Power Project in Chhattisgarh. No reasons were stated but the Ministry of Environment and Forests had classified the Hasdeo-Arand coal blocks allocated for the plant as a ‘no-go’ forest area. (Hindu Business Line)

India: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have lodged a complaint against former coal secretary P. C. Parakh for awarding the Talabira II coal block in Odisha to the aluminium company Hindalco. The Ministry of Coal had recommended the coal block be allocated to two public sector coal and power companies. The CBI has also requested all files on the coal allocation from the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had requested the Ministry of Coal’s recommendation be overturned in favour of Hindalco. (The Times of India, The Indian Express, Economic Times)

United States: A judge has castigated the Alaskan Department of Natural Resources for failing to process a water rights application by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition. The coalition filed the application in 2009 to protect a salmon stream at risk from the proposed Chuitna Coal Project. (Anchorage Daily News)

United States: Almost 900 people turned out for the last public hearing on the proposedLongview coal export terminal. The Department of Ecology of Washington State and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have received more than 50,000 comments on issues to be addressed in the environmental impact statement on the proposed project.(The Columbian)

news

Australia: Group estimates 130,000 uncapped exploration wells in Queensland coal areas.

Australia: Ex-head of coal industry group stands for BHP Billiton board on climate agenda.

Australia: Jindal takes over troubled metallurgical coal company.

Australia: Councillors suspended for conflict of interest over coal plant on council land.

China: Utility head complains that closing Hong Kong coal plants “would be a bad thing for us.”

Germany: Protest outside the Coaltrans world coal conference for industry insiders.

India: Agencies to decide on 30 undeveloped captive coal blocks.

India: Former coal secretary became director of companies with coal interests.

India: Neyveli Lignite ponders eighteen bids for coal supply, mostly from Indonesia.

Indonesia: Protest over BHP Billiton’s 350,000 hectares of Borneo coal concessions.

Malaysia: Government urged to rule out coal plant in Sabah state.

Mozambique: Indian consortium pondersbuyout of Rio Tinto’s coal projects.

NZ: Japanese bank sues to recover debt from stricken government coal company.

NZ: Lignite briquette plant closure leaves tenant farmers and split community.

Thailand: New power plan includes option of coal substitution for gas-power plants.

US: Coalition seeks reinstatement of buffers to protect streamsides from surface mining.

US: Coal companies funding pro-coal candidates for council in proposed export town.

US: Without space for plant upgrade, utility opts to retire Utah coal plant early.

US: Coal power emissions and residential electricity demand fall in 2012.

US: Coal plant owner Arizona Public Service Company admits bankrolling anti-solar campaign.

“Today I have been asked to discuss whether the coal bubble in Australia is about to burst. The answer to that question is quite simple. For the time being at least, the coal investment bubble
has burst,”

Michael Roche, the Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council told the Coaltrans World Coal Conference in Berlin.

companies + markets

Coal India roadshow: The Indian Department of Disinvestment has scheduled a roadshow to London and cities in the US to try and court potential investors in the sale of a 5% stake in the government-owned Coal India Limited (CIL). “The entire purpose of this roadshow is to tell the investors about CIL as a company and the kind of reserves it has,” a spokesman stated. (Business Standard)

AEP announces coal ruled out for new plants: Coal is being “taken out of the picture” of American Electric Power (AEP) according to the company’s CEO, Nick Akins. “We see the future for us being natural gas, energy efficiency, smart-grid activities and renewables,” he said. Coal plants account for 22,800 MW or 60% of AEP’s generation capacity. (Columbus Business First, AEP)

Ultra mega projects seek tariff hikes: Reliance Power is seeking a waiver from the power price it tendered for the 3,960 MW Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) in Jharkhand. Reliance is also seeking power price increases for the Sasun UMPP in part on the grounds that the depreciation of the rupee has increased the company’s costs. (Economic Times)

Asia coal prices weaken and freight rates increase: Rising freight rates are leading coal importers to demand further price cuts from exporters according to Deepak Kannan, Platts Associate Editor for coal. The fall in the value of the Indian rupee, he said, is also dampening demand for Indonesian coal.(Platts)

Millenium backers in dire straits: The two joint venture partners in the proposed new coal export terminal in Washington State – Ambre Energy and Arch Coal – have their own financial problems. Ambre has not only lost US$153 million since it was founded in 2005 but is paying 16% – twice the rate of ‘junk’ bonds – on some of its loans. (Sightline)

Colombia eyes Pacific railway connection:The Colombian government is hoping to entice Chinese investors to build a railway from undeveloped coal deposits in central Colombia to the Pacific coast. Colombian exports to Asia are currently constrained by size limits on ships using the Panama Canal.(Wall Street Journal)

CSX downgrade: Rail transportation company CSX has reported that in the first nine months of the year coal volumes have fallen by eight per cent to 102 million tonnes. RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin downgraded the company’s rating from “outperform” to “market perform”  based on concern that falling coal volumes “could persist indefinitely.”(CSX, Financial News & Daily Record)

Take or pay contracts: Michael Roche, the Chief Executive of the industry lobby group the Queensland Resources Council, told Coaltrans World Coal Conference in Berlin that “the only factor preventing more [Queensland] mines or parts of mines being put on care and maintenance are substantial fixed costs in the form of take-or-pay commitments for rail and port capacity.”(Queensland Resources Council)

Free fall: Peabody has  reported that for the first nine months of 2013 revenue was US$790 million lower than for the same period in 2012 even though the volume of coal mined fell only marginally. Since the start of 2013 Peabody’s share price has fallen by over 29%. (Peabody)

Tata Power considers asset sales: Tata Power, which owns the Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project, has flagged that it is considering asset sales and equity raising in order to reduce its US$6.2 billion debt. Tata Power’s Executive Director S. Ramakrishnan said that the company wanted to “improve the debt-to-equity situation so that the credit rating pressures are lesser.” (Reuters)

“We ideally would like to see a resolution of this [increased power price for the Mundra project] by 1st March, 2014. We are mentally and financially prepared for that, and if we are pushed a little bit more, from then on, I feel life is going to be tough for us,”

Tata Power’s Executive Director S. Ramakrishnan told Reuters.

resources

Carbon Avoidance: Accounting for emissions hidden in reserves, Carbon Tracker Initiative, October 2013. (Pdf)

This report reviews what information 21 coal mining companies and 14 oil companies provided to investors about their reserve and climate change risks. The report proposes new reporting standards.

Stop Financing Coal Projects, WWF, October 2013.

This infographic illustrates that between 2006 and 2011 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development spent 48% of its energy investments on fossil fuel projects and only 11% on renewable energy projects.

Peabody Energy, Gateway Pacific, and the Asian Coal Bubble, Sightline Institute, October 2013. (Pdf)

This report examines the viability of proposals by Peabody Energy to export Powder River Basin coal to the Pacific coal market through new ports on the US West Coast. The authors conclude that, at current prices, Peabody would lose heavily on coal exports.

take action

New Zealand: Press Westpac not to fund the Denniston mine 

Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) and 350.org have launched a campaign to persuade Westpac to stop lending funds to Bathurst Resources. Bathurst Resources has proposed to build an open-cut metallurgical coal mine on the spectacular Denniston Plateau, an area of high conservation value.  CANA and 350.org are requesting supporters to sign on to a letter to the Westpac CEO, Peter Clare.

Suggested Tweet: Send a letter urging  not to fund Bathurst Resources Denniston mine in NZ  

Europe: Protests against the Coaltrans conference

Push Europe, the campaigning network of the European Youth Climate Movement, is calling out for solidarity actions until 27th October to protest against the Coaltrans World Conference in Berlin and activities of participating companies. Send a picture of yourself individually or as a group with a simple message and submit it here or stage a protest at one of the offices included in the extensive list of participating companies. Read more about these action ideas here.