Romanian coal export deal with Serbia falters
“The signing of an agreement in November 2014 to export 1.2 million tons of coal from Romania to Serbia was seen as one of those win-win contracts for both countries. Half a year later, the deal, tarnished by corruption allegations and a dodgy tender process, seems to be going from bad to worse,” writes Ioana Ciuta from Bankwatch.
Suggested Tweet: Unpaid coal bill: #Coal exports from #Romania to #Serbia marred by #corruption allegations http://bit.ly/1bfDxZj #dodgydeals @unaltuser
Coal industry writing the NSW Govt’s rules on economics
“Imagine this. You’re a State Government minister. Your department and the most powerful industry it regulates are under fire for failing to comply with your government’s own guidelines … What do you do in this situation? You could instil some discipline in your department. You could crack down on the rogue industry … or you could change the guidelines [to make them less onerous to the coal industry]. This is what former NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward did,” writes Rod Campbell from The Australia Institute.
Suggested Tweet: #Coal industry writing the NSW Govt’s rules on economics http://bit.ly/1GaWF8z @TheAusInstitute
Welsh Assembly votes for open-cut coal moratorium
The Welsh Assembly has voted 30-0 in favour of a motion supporting a moratorium on open-cut coal mines, a review of the adequacy of current planning restrictions on mines near communities and support for local government authorities to initiate legal enforcement of rehabilitation requirements. Sixteen members of the assembly abstained from the vote. While the vote is not binding, the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, has stated that the Welsh Government will convene a summit to develop a plan on how to address the issue of open cut mining. (BBC News, Wales Online)
Suggested Tweet: Welsh Assembly votes 30-0 for open-cut #coal moratorium & enforcing mine rehabilitation http://bbc.in/1EtpEUT http://bit.ly/1Ql40oX
“The demand [for power] is being met. I’m now concerned that with this rate of growth, I could end up with surplus coal and surplus power… I don’t know what to do with it,”
the Indian Minister for Power Piyush Goyal said at a March 16 India-US Partnering for Peace and Prosperity Conference in New Delhi.
|Vietnamese government orders power station cleanup after protests: Following a major protest against pollution from the recently-commissioned 1244 megawatt (MW) Vinh Tan 2 plant, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) has pledged to stop dumping coal ash and other wastes for a 10-day period while discussions are held with local residents. Contracts have been awarded for the construction of a further three stages at the power station, totalling an extra 4465 MW of capacity. (theSundaily, EVN)|
Legal appeal begins against another Galilee Basin mine: A Queensland environment group, Coast and Country, has argued in the Supreme Court of Queensland that the approval of Alpha coal mine in the Galilee Basin should be overturned. The group claims that the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection did not properly consider the impacts on groundwater, or the emissions from the transport or burning of the coal. The Alpha mine is owned by a consortium comprising the Indian company GVK and Hancock Coal, which is owned by Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart. (Guardian)
Coal deals controversy engulfs Eskom: Prior to his resignation late last month, the former Chairman of Eskom, Zola Tsotsi, is alleged to have leaned on executives to approve a US$33 million-a-year coal contract with a Gupta Coal mine in Mpumalanga, even though the mine lacked a full water licence. The Gupta family is close to President Jacob Zuma. Eskom’s board says it has ordered an internal investigation of the allegations. (Sunday Times)
|Indian court directs port to develop dust control plan: The Supreme Court of India has directed the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) to develop a ‘zero pollution’ plan to control dust from coal and iron ore cargoes. The ChPT is due to submit the plan to the court within six weeks. The port authority was appealing against a May 2011 decision of the Madras High Court which banned the coal and other dusty cargo from being exported through the port. (The Hindu Business Line, Customs Today)|
US officials outed for using coal company letters: Over a dozen elected officials from Montana and Wyoming have used, without disclosure, letters drafted by Cloud Peak Energy in submissions to the US Department of Interior over a review of the prices charged for fossil fuels from public lands. Cloud Peak Energy confirmed that it had included form letters in a briefing kit on its objections to changing how the “fair value” of public resources is determined. (Billings Gazette)
German conservatives push to overturn closures plan: Business groups and coal industry unions are seeking to overturn a German Government plan to force the closure of up to 14,000 MW of coal plants by 2020. However, research by a consultancy has found that the closures would result in wholesale power prices rising over US$4 per megawatt-hour, increasing the value for generators which remain in the market. (Reuters, Bloomberg)
“It may seem contradictory, but to be fair all countries must be enabled to participate in the transition away from fossil fuels together and at the same time. If not, we will exceed the carbon budget and consign countries without the means to participate in the transition to renewable energy to a future based on expensive, obsolete and polluting fossil fuels,”
said Mary Robinson, the United Nations envoy on climate change.
|Australia: High Court dismisses appeal against corruption findings over NSW coal licence.|
Belgium: Three dockworkers die from toxic gases while unloading coal from ship hold.
India: Kobe Steel signs MOU with Neyveli Lignite Corporation to establish pilot lignite power plant.
|Mozambique: South African workers evacuated from Vale mine due to threats of retaliation for violence against Mozambicans in South Africa.|
Pakistan: Investment in coal yard at Karachi port pitched to German parliamentary delegation.
US: Linc Energy delays Wyoming underground coal gasification project.
“The cost of transporting coal to these proposed [coal power] projects is huge,”
said Maharashtra power minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule, explaining why land initially acquired for now-abandoned coal power station proposals might instead be used for solar power plants.
|China’s coal power faces further cuts: China plans to close a further 3000 MW of highly-polluting coal plants this year along with a further 60,000 MW between 2016 and 2020. While new plants are still coming online, slowing electricity demand and growing renewables are cutting the amount of coal burnt. A decision to cut the price paid for coal power on the Chinese mainland, to reflect falling coal prices, is also expected to force domestic coal producers to reduce prices further or cut production. (Bloomberg, South China Morning Post)|
China inks raft of coal agreements with Pakistan: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have signed agreements for the financing of the 1320 MW Port Qasim coal-fired power plant, the 3.8 million tonnes per annum Thar Block II mine and associated 660 MW coal power plant as well as the Thar 1 mine and power station. Preliminary agreements were also entered into for the Sahiwal, Hubco and Salt Range coal power plants. (Pakistan Today, Wall Street Journal)
China’s steel production to fall: The World Steel Association – the peak steel lobby group – says Chinese steel consumption will marginally decline in both 2015 and 2016 due to the slowing housing and construction industry. “Steel demand in 2014 saw negative growth for the first time since 1995 … In the medium term, no strong rebound is expected,” the association said. China’s steel production is also estimated to fall substantially over this decade, with implications for both domestic metallurgical coal producers and the seaborne coal trade. (Bloomberg)
|Major Australian generator sets 2050 coal phase-out deadline: AGL, Australia’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, has announced that its aging fleet of coal plants will all be closed by 2050. AGL have been criticised by clean energy groups for its opposition to the the Renewable Energy Target. Morgan Stanley analysts have raised doubts that the company can retain the loyalty of rooftop solar customers if it continues pushing for increased fixed charges when consumer demand from the grid is declining. (RenewEconomy, RenewEconomy)|
Struggling US company faces scrutiny over mine clean-up funding: The dramatic drop in the value of Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) may force the company to buy private insurance to cover its mine reclamation costs. ANR has a US$411 million liability for its two mines in Wyoming and US$262 million in West Virginia. A federal program allows companies to go uninsured for reclamation costs – referred to as ‘self-bonding’ – provided they meet minimum financial health benchmarks. Regulators are currently reviewing whether ANR still qualifies. (Reuters, Casper-Star Tribune)
China imports from Australia and Indonesia plummet: Chinese customs data has revealed that imports of coal – excluding lignite – from Indonesia and Australia in the first quarter of 2015 have fallen dramatically. Imports from Indonesia fell by 56 per cent to 7.5 million tonnes compared to the same period the year before. Imports from Australia fell by 27 per cent to 16 million tonnes compared to the first quarter of 2014. (Reuters)