November 17, 2016
Issue 159  |  View Past Issues
CoalWire

Editor's Note
 

The dust is still settling on the likely impact of a four-year term of President-elect Trump and a majority Republican Congress. Most initial assessments are US coal consumption will continue to decline as old coal plants are retired and as energy efficiency, renewables and gas plants keep undermining coal’s market share. Republican plans to reverse Obama administration initiatives on coal might make getting approval for coal mining easier – with significant adverse local or regional effects – but, in the absence of new markets nationally or internationally, will not substantially increase the volume of coal produced. The effect a Trump Presidency will have on the Paris Agreement is still difficult to determine. Next week we will compile a more detailed analysis.

There is some good news though, with plans for a US coal terminal in Oregon dropped while an Australian brown coal exploration company has – after a five-year long community campaign – given up on six exploration licences it held. In Brazil, the President has vetoed a bill providing US$1.5 billion in subsidies for upgrading old coal plants.

Bob Burton

Features

Trump's influence on the future of clean energy is less clear than you think

President-elect Donald Trump may have surprisingly little effect in slowing the global shift away from coal and towards renewable energy, writes Michael Liebreich, the chair of the advisory board of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in the Guardian.

Campaigns

US coal terminal cancelled

The Port of Morrow has agreed to withdraw its application for the proposed Coyote Island Terminal on the Columbia River, which was a part of the Morrow Pacific Project. The port agency reached an agreement with the Oregon Department of State Lands and tribal and environmental groups to abandon the coal port proposal but leave the option open for other port developments. Lighthouse Resources, which proposed to export 7.2 million tonnes a year through the port, withdrew from the project in October to focus on exports via an existing port in British Columbia. (East Oregonian)

Australian company surrenders coal exploration leases

After a five-year campaign by local residents the small Australian company Mantle Mining has surrendered its six brown coal exploration leases in South Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. Residents objected to the likely damage to prime agricultural farmland and water supplies, and impacts on human health. “We really feel like Christmas has come early and we can now look forward to a coal and gasfield free future,” said Fergus O’Connor, a South Gippsland beef farmer. (Friends of the Earth)

Top News

US railway company to study covering coal wagons: In response to a legal action by a coalition of environmental groups, BNSF – a major US railway company – has agreed to commission a 2-year study into how to cover its coal wagons to cut dust emissions. An expert witness for environmental groups earlier told a court hearing that uncovered coal railcars emitted a continuous stream of coal particles and lost an estimated 2.8 kilograms per 100 kilometres through “weep holes” at the bottom of wagons, designed to allow water to drain out. (Sierra Club, 13newsnow)

Myanmar official rules out coal plants: Despite a military-linked company seeking to restart the Tigyit coal plant in Shan State, a deputy permanent secretary of the Electricity and Energy Department insists the newly-elected government will not support coal projects. “Whatever the last government may have done, we do not plan to implement coal energy. This government will do nothing that the people are opposed to,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. (Myanmar Times)

Former Indian MP and Coal Secretary to face corruption charges: Former member of the upper house of India’s parliament, Vijay Darda, and the former Coal Secretary HC Gupta are among seven charged over alleged irregularities in the allocation of the Fatehpur (East) coal block in Chhattisgarh to Yavatmal Energy. The coal block was allocated for a 1320 MW coal plant the company planned but didn’t build. The seven face charges under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. (DNA, Economic Times)

Germany pledges big energy emission cuts by 2030, subject to review: The German Coalition government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 80 and 95 per cent by 2050, with the energy sector emissions targeted to fall by half by 2030. However, the government flagged the targets would be subject to “impact assessment” and may be subject to review in 2018, after the next national elections. (Reuters, Guardian)

Queensland exempts Adani from requiring water licence: The Queensland Government has passed legislation requiring all new mining projects to obtain a water licence for the use of groundwater. While the new legislation will apply to the controversial expansion of the New Acland mine, the government exempted Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine from the requirement on the grounds it had already been cleared for approval by the Land and Environment Court. (Guardian, Brisbane Times)

World Bank flouted its own rules in Kosovo, report reveals: A leaked internal World Bank investigation report found “real and often severe harm” over a “prolonged period” as a result of flawed resettlement of villagers to allow the expansion of the Sibovc mine. The World Bank is currently considering financing the proposed New Kosovo power station which would be supplied by the mine and require the displacement of more villagers. (Climate Home)

“We think the train has left the station on the shift from coal to renewables, particularly wind given attractive economics, and, in the near-to-medium term, natural gas,”

stated a Wells Fargo Securities analyst on the impact of the election of Donald Trump as US President.

“The train has left the station on the shift from #coal to #renewables” says Wells Fargo on Trump #energy policy http://www.snl.com/web/client?auth=inherit#news/article?id=38357508&cdid=A-38357508-12838

News

Australia: Five Linc Energy executives charged over underground coal gasification pollution.

Pakistan: For over 23 days villagers have protested against coal mine wastewater dam.

Philippines: Department of Energy clears three plants with 1008 MW capacity for grid impact study.

Thailand:  EGAT opts to build new lignite units to replace old units at Mae Moh plant.

UK: Banks Group abandons plan for Ferneybeds open pit coal mine in Northumberland.

US: Federal court judge allows youth legal case against federal government over climate inaction.
 

Companies + Markets

Brazil’s President vetoes coal subsidy: Brazil's Environment Minister told the Marrakech meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that President Michel Temer will veto a bill authorising US$1.5 billion in subsidies for upgrading of old coal plants. In late October the Brazilian Senate approved the subsidy to “modernise” old coal plants after 2023 but the amendment was opposed by the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as being inconsistent with Brazil’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. The veto has been welcomed by Greenpeace and other civil society groups. (Folha de S.Paulo,  Jornal do Comercio) [Portuguese]

Investigation launched into non-disclosure of Indian bribery scandal: The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the corporate regulator, has launched an investigation into the failure of Leighton Holdings – now known as CIMIC – to disclose to shareholders the existence of an internal investigation into allegations that millions of dollars had been paid in bribes in relation to a mining contract at NTPC’s Pakri Barwadih mine in Jharkhand.  (Sydney Morning Herald)

Mongolia seeks to revive stalled Tavan Tolgoi project: Following the dramatic recent spike in the price of metallurgical coal, the Mongolian Government has convened discussions with China Shenhua Energy over the potential development of the proposed Tavan Tolgoi mine. The project would require the development of a 240-kilometre highway to transport the coal to China. (Bloomberg)

Price rise rekindles coal plans in Mozambique: Spurred by recent price rises in the global market, Indian coal importers are seeking to negotiate new coal concessions with the Mozambican government. Jindal Steel & Power is planning to resume mining at its Chirodzi mine while Vale is increasing production at its Moatize mine. However, coal trains from Mozambique’s coal mines have been subject to repeated attacks by anti-government rebels. (Platts, AllAfrica.com)

Resources

Implications of the Paris Agreement for Coal Use in the Power Sector, Climate Analytics, November 2016. (Pdf)

This 42-page report estimates that to meet the climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement coal power plants would need to be closed by 2030 in OECD countries, by 2040 in China and by 2050 in the rest of the world.

Still Coughing up for Coal: Big Banks after the Paris Agreement, BankTrack et al, November 2016. (Pdf)

This 13-page report finds the coal financing policies and practices of all 22 major Australian, European and US banks fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C.

The great coal jobs fraud, CEE Bankwatch Network, November 2016. (Pdf)

The 48-page report examines how exaggerated claims over jobs associated with proposed coal projects in southeast European countries are being deployed in a bid to delay mining communities making a just transition to sustainable energy.

Universal failure: How IGCC coal plants waste money and emissions, Kiko Network, November 2016. (Pdf)

This 8-page briefing paper critiques the economic and ‘clean coal’ hype about Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants promoted by the coal industry.