CoalWire 16, 11th December 2013

campaigns

More US coal plant retirements

NRG Energy has announced that it will retire the Chalk Point and Dickerson coal plants in May 2017. Since 2010, 158 coal-fired plants have been retired or slated for retirement, representing over 30% of the capacity of the US coal-fired fleet of 523 plants. (Sierra Club, Sierra Club)

top news

Go ahead for Abbot Point expansion: The Australian government has approved the proposal by Adani for the construction of a new coal export terminal at Abbot Point in Queensland. Adani’s proposed Terminal Zero is critical to plans to develop a series of mega-mines in the Galilee Basin. The government has also approved the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from the port expansion in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. (Guardian,Greenpeace)

Go-ahead to loans for Pakistan coal plant:  The Asian Development Bank has approved a US$900 million loan for the construction of 600MW coal-fired generating unit at the existing Jamshoro power station. The US, Nordic countries and the Netherlands voted against the loan while Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan voted in favour. The United Kingdom, Germany and Turkey abstained. (E&E PublishingThe Express Tribune)

Forests rights bid against Mahan coal:Villagers have commenced the legal process of having community rights to the Mahan forest in Madhya Pradesh acknowledged.  The Mahan forest is threatened by a coal mine proposed by Mahan Coal, a joint venture between the private power producer, Essar, and the smelting company Hindalco.  Both companies are seeking coal for their own proposed power stations. (India Blooms ,Mahan Coal)

Scottish councils left with coal clean-up costs: Following the collapse of two coal mining companies, it has been revealed that there could be a US$343 million shortfall between the insurance bonds and the cleanup costs of 32 open-cut mine sites.  Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance argues that a funding shortfall will leave communities with “the scars, the blight and the polluted water for many years to come.” (HeraldScotland)

Philippines door open for coal: The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Renewable Energy Management Bureau has announced the go-ahead for 633.5MW of renewable energy projects. However, the government remains committed to further coal projects, with 17 new plants being considered.(Rappler)

Kenya pushes ahead with coal projects:The government of Kenya is set to sign a concession agreement with the Chinese-owned Fenxi Mining Industry Company to develop a 400 million tonne coal mine and power station. The government is planning on putting a further 31 coal blocks out to tender in early 2014. (Bloomberg)

news

Australia: Rio Tinto reneges on its 2003 environmental protection agreement.

Europe: Coal demand falls eight per cent in first half of 2013 compared to 2012.

India: Nearly all the ‘missing’ Ministry of Coal ‘Coalgate’ files have been recovered.

Russian Federation: Agreement signed for new export terminal at Port Vanino.

South Africa: Dogged by crises, Eskom CEO quits.

Sri Lanka: Opposition grows to coal power expansion plans.

US: Coal company spending on lobbying is down compared to 2012.

US: Planning commission delays decision on Alabama coal terminal until February.

Zambia: Government seeks to end dispute with Chinese company over coal mine sale.

“”It’s a bit ugly out there, with market prices being very low indeed,”

Roger Downey, the head of the Vale’s fertilizer and coal operations, told an investor conference in London.

companies + markets

Texas coal terminal dumped: The Australian coal company, Ambre Energy, has dropped its proposal for a coal export terminal at Corpus Christi in Texas.  Minutes of a December Port Authority meeting state that “the coal export market has dramatically declined in the last three years and Ambre no longer considers a coal export terminal viable in this area.” (Sierra Club)

Vale looks for coal partners: The Brazilian resources company, Vale, is considering selling 15-25% of its coal division to companies which are also major coal consumers. The company plans to spend US$2.83 billion on coal projects in 2014, with the bulk earmarked for the Moatize to Nacala railway and associated port facilities in Mozambique. The company is hoping to sell approximately half of its 70% stake in the Nacala project. (Wall Street Journal)

Ukraine pursues coal-to-gas project:Ukraine’s Energy Ministry has signed an agreement with China to develop a coal-to-synthetic natural gas plant. The proposed plant would consume approximately 20 million tonnes of coal a year. In 2013 Ukraine’s state gas and oil company, Naftogaz, entered into a $3.7 billion credit agreement with China’s state-owned Development Bank to finance the project.(Eurasia Review)

Call for inquiry over Sri Lanka coal plant:The National Electricity Consumers Movement, unions and opposition political parties have called for a parliamentary inquiry into the Norochcholai coal power plant. Since the first 300MW unit was commissioned in December 2011, there have been more than 20 breakdowns. As a result, the publicly-owned Ceylon Electricity Board has incurred significant financial losses. (The Sunday Leader)

Glencore/Xstrata backs coal: While major coal companies are cutting back on coal investments, GlencoreXstrata are increasing theirs. The company forecasts a 12 per cent increase in volume by 2016 and argues that coal has a “positive medium-term market outlook”. GlencoreXstrata has approximately 4 billion tonnes of coal reserves and investments in over 30 operating coal mines in Australia, South Africa and Colombia.(Bloomberg, GlencoreXstrata)

Turkey courts Qatar: The Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yıldız, is talking up the possibility that in early 2014 an agreement will be signed with Qatar for investment in Afsin-Elbistan coalfields projects. In August 2013 the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company shelved plans to develop 8000MW of coal-fired power plants in the area.(Hurriyet Daily News)

 “Should miners increase their exposure to coal? In general I shouldn’t think so … In the long-term, we expect that coal will be under increasing pressure,”

Erik Jan Stork, senior sustainability specialist at APG Asset Management in Amsterdam told Bloomberg.

resources

Explore the True Costs of Coal, Harvard School of Public Health, December 2013.

This info graphic neatly summarises, using US data, the major costs of coal from mining through to the power station smokestack.

take action

Call for submissions on the Coalfields Expressway 

The Sierra Club and allies are calling for submissions to the Federal Highway Administration on the Coalfields Expressway, a proposed strip mine disguised as a four-lane, $2.4 billion road project across the coalfield counties of Virginia. See here for details.

Petition on the Galilee Basin water

The Galilee Basin Alliance in Australia is requesting signatures on a petition requesting the federal Minister for the Environment to cease approving coal projects and ensure a better understanding of cumulative groundwater impacts of proposed projects.