May 13, 2016
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editor's note

The biggest development by far of the last week was the success of the Lummi Nation in defeating the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal in Washington state in the US. On top of that over 2000 people shut down Australia’s coal port in Newcastle for a day while 3500 people protested in the streets of Jakarta against the proposed Japanese-backed 2000 megawatt (MW) Central Java coal plant. In NSW five landowners won a precedent-setting case in blocking coal exploration being allowed to proceed on their farmlands. To cap it all off, for the first time since 1882 there was no coal-fired electricity in the UK grid. A coal-free world is becoming more tangible by the day. 

Bob Burton


First Nation defeats US coal port plan

On May 9, the Army Corps of Engineers preemptively denied a permit for the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal outside of Bellingham, Washington, ruling the project’s impact on the fishing rights of the Lummi Nation would be more than “de minimis,” the legally-protected standard. The Chairman of the Lummi Nation called the ruling a “historic victory for treaty rights and the constitution.” The project is considered “likely dead” unless terminal sponsor SSA Marine chooses to alter plans or appeal against the decision in federal court. (Bellingham Herald, Sightline Institute)
Tweet: Lummi Nation defeats giant coal export terminal at Cherry Point in Washington #coal

NSW landowners win case blocking exploration

The world’s 8359 coal power plant units consume enough water each year to meet the basic needs of one billion people, writes Joe Sandler Clarke in EnergyDesk.

Tweet: #Coal plants risk global #water shortage @JSandlerClarke @EnergyDesk

top news

Japanese coal plants plan on shaky grounds: Japan’s planned and under construction coal-fired power plants exceeds the capacity required to replace the retiring fleet by 191 per cent, according to a new report by Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. The study finds the potential overcapacity combined with competition from lower-carbon and lower-cost energy sources could lead to an estimated US$57 billion in stranded assets. (Bloomberg, Stranded Assets Programme)

Protest against Indonesian power project: An estimated 3500 people marched from the Japanese embassy to the presidential palace in Indonesia in opposition to the proposed 2000 MW Central Java Power Project, sponsored by J-Power and Itochu Corp of Japan and Indonesian coal mining company Adaro Energy. (South China Morning Post)

Calls for Indian bank to block Bangladesh coal plant loan: A global coalition of environmental and civil society groups are calling on the Export-Import Bank of India to reject its proposed US$1.6 billion loan to construct the 1320 MW Rampal power station. The groups argue the project would not meet environmental standards for large power plants in India given its proximity to the Sundarbans Reserve Forest, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site. (Banktrack)
Newcastle port blockade: Over 2000 people including Pacific Islanders and indigenous Australians blocked port and rail traffic at the world’s largest coal export terminal in Australia on May 8, calling for the government to take action on climate change and wind down the use of fossil fuels. (Guardian,

India looks to shut 12 per cent of old coal capacity: India’s Central Electricity Authority said it plans to hold talks with plant owners and electricity buyers for a blueprint to shut older coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 37,000 megawatts, 12 per cent of the country’s capacity, and replace them with supercritical coal plants at the same sites. (Livemint)

Another US lab official charged over faked water tests: A manager at Appalachian Laboratories, John Brewer, has been charged with conspiracy to violate the US Clean Water Act and other offences. The indictment alleges Brewer and other employees of the lab conspired to tamper with water samples taken between 2008 and 2013 to monitor coal company compliance with water pollution standards in southern West Virginia. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

If Vietnam goes forward with 40GW of coal, if the entire region implements the coal-based plans right now, I think we are finished … That would spell disaster for us and our planet,”

said World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim.


Australia: NSW EPA sues Clarence Colliery over coal pollution of Blue Mountains National Park.

Indonesia: Judges sentence West Java official in coal corruption case.

Sri Lanka: Oil ministry official suggests benefits of switch of proposed Sampur plant from coal to gas.
UK: For over a four hour period there was no coal power in UK grid, the first time since 1882.

US: Oakland City Council could vote on coal export plan at special meeting on June 27.

US: Fires in Alaska coal seams spark wildfires.

companies + markets

Colombian coal heads to Japan: Three trial shipments of Colombian coal to Japan are scheduled over the next few months to take advantage of low freight rates. While shipments from Colombia around the southern tip of South America can take up to 45 days to reach Japan, traders believe there is still potential for Colombian coal to displace Australian thermal coal. While Colombian exports to Europe are falling sales to India and Turkey are increasing. (Platts, Platts)

Finance elusive for Indonesian coal plants: Plans for the construction of 35,000 MW of power stations - including 20,000 MW of coal plants - are struggling to attract international finance due in part to the Indonesian utility PLN’s insistence loans be paid in rupiah rather than US dollars. The financial services firm Ernst & Young is urging the Indonesian Government to focus on tapping domestic funding for the US$70 billion power plan including through the use of publicly-backed power industry bonds. (Asian Power)

US investigates Kemper CCS costs reporting: In its quarterly report Southern Company has revealed the US Securities and Exchange Commission is “conducting a formal investigation” into the estimated costs and completion date of the US$6.7 billion Kemper CCS plant in Mississippi. The company believes the investigation relates to “financial reporting” and accounting matters since 2010 involving the 582 megawatt plant. (Bloomberg, Southern Company)
Jindal Steel looking to offload Australian & Botswana mines: Jindal Steel and Power of India wants to sell controlling interests in its coal mine in Botswana and an Australian coal mine owned by its subsidiary Wollongong Coal. The company said it plans to instead expand its power business portfolio into renewable energy and transmission and distribution. (Livemint)

Mozambique coal railway tender closes: The tender has closed for bids to construct a new railway to link Mozambique’s coalfields in the Tete province to the coast, co-sponsored by Italian Thai Development and state-owned and local companies. Plans include a new harbour for coal exports at Macuse, about halfway between the low-volume coal port at Beira and Vale’s recently opened port at Nacala. (Mining Weekly, CoalSwarm)

Moody’s sees further decline for US coal companies: In a report titled North American Coal- Lights Go Dark on Coal Moody’s analysts estimate US coal companies earnings could fall by 10 per cent over the next 10-12 months. While noting the impact of coal plant retirements and increased fuel competition the ratings agency also flags steel industry excess capacity and suggest it is “unlikely” the prospects for US thermal or seaborne metallurgical coal will improve “over the next several years.” (Moody’s)


Disobedience, Disobedient Productions, April 2016.

This forty-one minute film highlights protests against major fossil fuel facilities in four countries, including the Batangas power station in the Philippines and the campaign against coal plants in Turkey and Germany.

Tweet: Disobedience, a 41 min film on the rising tide of opposition to #coal & other #fossilfuels projects

The Extent of Fossil Fuel Tenements in Australia, Energy & Resource Insights, April 2016. (Pdf)

This report documents reveals 37 per cent of Australia is covered under fossil fuel exploration and extraction licences. An interactive online map of the tenements is available here.

Tweet: Over ⅓ of Australia covered under #coal & other #fossilfuels licences

Coal trade around the world, Carbon Brief, May 2016.

A map illustrating the the global seaborne coal export trade in 2014.

Tweet: Mapped: The global #coal trade @CarbonBrief

Panama Papers, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), May 2016.

The ICIJ have released an online searchable database for 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 countries. It is worth having a look for coal companies.

Tweet: Any #coal companies in the #panamapapers database of over 214,000 offshore entities?

CoalWire is a weekly bulletin of coal-related news published by CoalSwarm. Please send material which you think should be included or suggestions for features to CoalWire is archived at

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