CoalWire 66, 5th December 2014

December 5, 2014

features

Coal’s toxic effect on South Kalimantan 

“Something that sticks in my memory is the horrendous damage to the environment and landscape in Asam-asam, in South Kalimantan, in the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. Coal mining has been expanding extremely rapidly there, and in 2011 the region produced one-third of Indonesia’s coal. As coal production has increased, so have the negative impacts on the province’s people and environment,” writes Arif Fiyanto from Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Suggested Tweet: The shocking story of toxic pollution from #coal mines in South Kalimantan #Indonesia http://bit.ly/1yhrxem @GreenpeaceSEA

The Queensland Government’s Great Barrier Reef give-away

“In the last few weeks Queensland has offered Indian coal mining giant Adani a subsidy for its mine-to-port rail line with yet-to-be-raised taxpayer funds, thumbed its nose at international concern over mega-port development and told miners they no longer need licences to use gigalitres of groundwater,” writes Felicity Wishart from the Australian Marine Conservation Society in the Northern Star.

Suggested Tweet: Things worse than Obama thought for the Great Barrier #Reef writes Felicity Wishart from @AustMarConsSoc http://bit.ly/11QANNp

Chile’s Punta Alcalde coal plant postponed

“Last month [communities opposing the proposed Punta Alcalde coal plant] were rewarded when an executive from Endesa’s parent company, Enel, announced that the plant would be suspended due to a lack of demand for the electricity. This lack of demand results from the community’s successful defeat of two controversial mining projects in the area: Pascua Lama and El Morro. As a result, there is no need for the electricity from Punta Alcalde. While this is good news for communities fighting the project, the war is far from over,” writes Aviva Imhof in EndCoal.

Suggested Tweet: #Chile’s Punta Alcalde #coal plant postponed but campaign not over http://bit.ly/1vLQ4Mx @avivaimhof

campaigns

Court rejects environmental impact assessment for Turkish coal plant

A Turkish administrative court has rejected the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a proposed US$2 billion coal power station slated to be built near Karabiga in Çanakkale. A consortium of Cengiz Construction and Cenal Electric had submitted four EIAs covering different parts of the proposed 1380 megawatt (MW) plant. While this had been approved by the Environment Ministry, the court ruled that this was inappropriate and failed to address the cumulative impacts on the habitat of loggerhead turtles and Mediterranean seals. (Hurryiet Daily News, CoalSwarm)

Ambre Energy sells out of proposed coal ports

A coalition of environmental and community groups has welcomed the decision of the Australian-based Ambre Energy to sell its US subsidiary, which proposed to build the Port of Morrow coal terminal in Oregon and the Millenium Bulk Terminals-Longview in Washington state. Ambre Energy said its failure to get a crucial permit for the proposed Oregon terminal as well as a gloomy outlook for the international coal market has dramatically reduced the value of the company. Ambre Energy sold its US subsidiary to the US private equity firm, Resource Capital Funds (RCF). While Ambre Energy’s decision was welcomed by the Sierra Club it has warned RCF that opposition to the projects remains. (Ambre Energy, Sierra Club)

“It makes no sense for the bank [State Bank of India (SBI)] to continue to be adventurous and rush into offering mega-loan bonanzas to financially over-leveraged corporates to catch the eye of those who matter,”

wrote the former Indian Secretary of Finance E A S Sarma in a letter to India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley about the SBI’s conditional offer of a loan to Adani for its coal projects in the Galilee Basin in Australia.

top news

Germany to close coal plants: The German Government has decided that the closure of coal plants will be required as part of a package of measures to ensure the country meets its goal of a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. As many as eight coal plant closures will contribute a little over a quarter of the reductions foreshadowed in the package. Environmental groups have criticised the government for not setting a more ambitious plan to phase out coal plants. (Reuters)


Environmental fast-track for coal auction blocks: The Indian government has announced that the 74 coal blocks to be auctioned in February 2015 will not require any additional environmental approval. The blocks, which have potential capacity of 210 million tonnes of coal, were among the 204 declared by the Supreme Court of India to have been allocated illegally. The Coal Secretary, Anil Swarup, said previous environmental clearances for the blocks “shall pass on to the new allotees.” (Economic Times)


UN’s climate chief wants coal excluded from Green Climate Fund: The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said “there is no argument” for the use of contributions to the global climate fund for coal projects. “Unabated coal has no room in the future energy system,” she said. Her comments followed the revelation that in its national reports to the UN Japan included support for higher efficiency coal projects as part of its contributions towards climate finance. (ABC [US] News)

Queensland gives water away to coal mines: The Queensland Government has pushed through legislative amendments to guarantee water rights for coal mining and other projects before any independent assessment as previously required under the Water Act. The legislation was criticised by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as posing a threat to the catchments flowing into the reef ecosystem while hydrologists expressed alarm at the impact on aquifers from the Great Artesian Basin used by landowners. (ABC, Environmental Defenders Office)


France ends loans for coal plants: French President Francois Hollande has announced that the French government’s export credit agency, Coface, will no longer support coal projects. Coface had partly financed equipment supplied by the French company Alstom for the polluting coal-fired Kusile and Medupi power stations in South Africa. (Reuters)


World Heritage Centre cautions Bangladesh over Sundarbans plans: The United Nations World Heritage Centre has expressed its alarm at the lack of environmental assessment of likely impacts from two coal plants and related infrastructure on the Sundarbans World Heritage area. The World Heritage Centre has asked for a comprehensive environmental assessment of the projects and a report by February 1 detailing initiatives taken to protect the area. (Prothom Alo, World Heritage Committee)

“The commodity guys are just too optimistic … It’s just people are covering their eyes and refusing to believe that what is happening now [with commodities] is not just a cyclical story, but also a structural story,”

said Tao Dong, chief regional economist for Asia at Credit Suisse in Bloomberg.

news

Australia: Former captain of national rugby team arrested for blockading Maules Creekmine.


Kenya: Losing bidder alleges irregularities in tender process for 960 MW Lamu plant.


Myanmar: Villagers concerned that Chinese company may restart polluting Tikyit power station.

Mongolia: Peabody Energy and China Shenhua amongst bidders for Tavan Tolgoi project.


North Korea: First shipment of Russian coal departs Raijin port for Posco steel plant.

“If science-based restrictions on harmful substances qualify as wars, these regulations [on pollution caused by coal] are in the tradition of the ‘war on lead paint’ and the ‘war on asbestos’,”

writes Richard L. Revesz, Dean Emeritus and Lawrence King Professor of Law at New York University School of Law in the Wall Street Journal.

companies + markets

Norwegian pension fund manager dumps some coal: The largest Norwegian pension fund manager, KLP, has dumped US$57 million worth of shares in 27 coal company stocks. Companies excluded from its portfolio include Peabody Energy, China Shenhua, Coal India, Tata Power, Adaro Energy, American Electric Power and CLP. The fund manager said this was “the first step in an effort to purge our investments of coal” and that remaining companies with coal interests were on notice to “move in a more climate-friendly direction.” (KLP)


Test run for new Mozambique railway: The railway from Moatize to the port of Nacala is nearing completion, with an inaugural train trip completed recently. It is estimated that the railway will carry approximately 11 million tonnes of coal in 2015 and expand to 18 Mtpa in 2017. The new railway will supplement the existing but lower capacity Sena railway from near Moatize to the Port of Beira. Vale, which holds a 70 per cent interest in the Nacala rail and port joint venture, has been unable to sell half of its stake in the project despite hopes of completing a deal by mid-year. (Macauhub,Wall Street Journal)


Bumi files for protection from US creditors: Three subsidiaries of Indonesia’s biggest coal miner, Bumi Resources, are seeking legal protection from US creditors after the company failed to make several payments (since September) on US$1.375 billion of debt. Bumi Resources said it would need to reach agreement with creditors on a restructuring of the company which would result in “a meaningful recovery” in the company’s 67 related entities. Last week a Singaporean court granted three Bumi Resources entities a six-month reprieve from actions by creditors. (Jakarta Post)

German utility moves to offload coal and nukes: E.ON has unveiled plans to offload its 51,000 MW pan-European portfolio of conventional coal, gas and nuclear plant capacity into a new company, along with 29 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of coal supply. E.ON would retain renewable energy and distribution but hold the debt from the old assets. E.ON also announced that it would write its assets down by a further US$5.6 billion. (E.ON, Greenpeace)


Legal challenge to FutureGen CCS plant:The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear a legal challenge against a 2012 decision by the Illinois Commerce Commission compelling utilities to sign 20-year contracts for power from the FutureGen carbon capture and storage (CCS) project. Without the power purchase agreements – which require utilities to buy power at above prevailing wholesale market rates – the project will be unable to attract private investors. (State Journal-Register)


Tough times in 2015 for Asian coal producers, warns Moody’s: Financial ratings firm Moody’s believes Asian coal producers will “struggle to generate positive cash flows” in 2015 due to current coal prices. Moody’s estimates that, despite new restrictions on coal exports from Indonesia and changes in Chinese policy, prices will remain flat in 2015 for both thermal and metallurgical coal. (Moody’s)

resources               take action

Revealed: Coal Mines Polluting South Kalimantan’s Water, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, December 2014. (Pdf)


The report documents the profound effect on water quality of the rapid expansion of coal mining in South Kalimantan in Indonesia.Stranded Out West: The Imminent Failure of Lanco Infratech’s Investment in Griffin Coal,Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, December 2014. (Pdf)

The purchase of the Griffin Coal mine in Western Australia by the Indian company Lanco Infratech is the latest boom time coal deal by Indian companies to sour.

Are Eugreen, Nedbank?, 350.org, December 2014. (Video)

Nedbank, one of the banks investing in mines and power stations in Africa, claims to be a ‘green’ bank. This 350.org video is a part of the group’s campaign pressing the bank to divest from fossil fuels.

One bank to wreck a world wonder?

The Indian company Adani is lobbying the State Bank of India for a US$1 billion loan for its plans to mine coal in the Galilee Basin and ship it through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Avaaz has launched a global petition to the Chairwoman of SBI, Arundhati Bhattacharya, requesting she reject the proposed loan. The petition is here.