April 14, 2016
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editor's note

What would happen if land bought for a textiles plant and a vegetable oils factory suddenly morphed into a coal power plant being built without any environmental assessment? That appears to be the backstory to the mass protests against the proposed Banshkhali plant in Bangladesh, which turned deadly when police and others fired into the peaceful crowd. With a suite of controversial coal projects being pushed, this week we have a more detailed look at Bangladesh’s coal plans.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor


Bangladesh power plant protest was against secrecy, pollution and dispossession

The mass protest against the proposed Bashkhali coal-fired power plant – which saw police kill five people and wound many more – reflected the objections of thousands of villagers against secret government plans for forced land acquisition and concern about pollution, writes Anu Muhammad, Professor of Economics, Jahangirnagar University.
Tweet: #Bangladesh #coal power plant protest was against secrecy, #pollution and dispossession http://bit.ly/1qhHMeB #Bashkhali

(More background information on the Banshkhali project is available here.)

Bangladesh has big and controversial coal plans

Controversies spanning from the mass protests against the Banshkhali coal plant to plants proposed near the Sundarbans World Heritage area reflect major coal expansion plans being promoted by the Bangladesh Government, write Christine Shearer and Ted Nace from CoalSwarm.

Tweet: #Bangladesh has big and controversial #coal plans http://bit.ly/1TQCwut @ChristineSheare @tednace

Why Indonesia’s President broke no ground at coal plant ground-breaking

In a symbolic media event Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo last week sought to signal that all was proceeding smoothly with the proposed 2000 megawatt (MW) Batang power plant in Central Java, but better alternatives should be considered, writes Arif Fiyanto from Greenpeace Southeast Asia in the Jakarta Post.
Tweet: Why #Indonesia’s President broke no ground at #coal plant ground-breaking @ken_arf01 http://bit.ly/1FaC2dc

It is immoral to burden future generations with pollution and the cost of mistaken energy choices made today … It is time to end the age of coal,”

said Philippines Archbishop Ramon Arguelles.

top news

Peabody Energy files for bankruptcy: Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for its US subsidiaries. However, its Australian operations are excluded from the bankruptcy proceedings. US bankruptcy law allow companies to restructure their debts while continuing to operate. The company stated that it will “continue to work with” US state and federal governments “to meet its reclamation obligations” and blamed “unprecedented” changes in the coal market for its financial problems. (Peabody Energy, The Tree)

Traditional owners challenge Adani mine licences: The Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners of the Galilee Basin have launched a legal challenge against the Queensland Government’s granting of three mining licences to Adani for the Carmichael coal mine. In October 2015 the Mines Minister stated he did not “intend to issue” the mining licences until a separate challenge to the mine in the Federal Court had been resolved. The decision in that case is still pending. (Rockhampton Morning Bulletin)
UK axes funding for IEA’s Clean Coal Centre: The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has cancelled US$423,000 in funding for the IEA Clean Coal Centre, an affiliate of the International Energy Agency which promotes ‘clean coal’. DECC said it cut the funding to focus on “promoting the use of alternative and cleaner forms of energy.” Nine other governments – including Germany, Poland, Italy, Japan, Australia and the US – continue to fund the group. (Financial Times)
Israel looks to cut coal to clean air: The Israeli Cabinet has approved a plan to invest US$212 million in loans and grants for increased energy efficiency to “lead to a reduction in sickness caused by pollution.” The government has also flagged the prospect of reducing coal use by switching to gas and increasing renewables. The decision suggests the proposed 1260 MW dual-fuel Project D plant, if it proceeds, is likely to be gas-fired. (Times of Israel, CoalSwarm)
Amnesty finds Indian mine evictions constitute human rights breach: Amnesty International has found the forcible eviction of two families and the demolition of their houses for Hindalco’s Gare Pelma IV coal mine in Raigarh was a human rights violation. While the plan for the mine provided for displaced families to be allocated land or housing, as well as compensation, the evicted families have received nothing. A further 100 families are at risk of being evicted for the mine. (Economic Times, Amnesty International)

Bill progresses for new assessment of Oakland coal port: A bill requiring a new environmental assessment for the proposed Oakland port, which now includes a coal export facility, has been backed by a Californian Senate committee. The bill, which declares coal shipments through West Oakland is a health risk, has yet to be voted on by the full Senate or House. (Mercury News)


Australia: Ex-head of right wing think tank, now WA minister, praises solar, orders coal shutdown.

Canada: British Columbia government ends assessment of Raven coal project on Vancouver Island.

China: Government announces ban on North Korean coal imports.
Myanmar: Armed militia presses villagers to approve coal mining, despite earlier rejection.

South Africa: President Zuma’s son resigns as director from company with coal interests
South Africa: Water licence for Makhado coal mine suspended pending decision by Water Tribunal.

companies + markets

Czech Government pressured by near-bankrupt coal miner: The government of the Czech Republic is in negotiations with a coalition of bondholders over a possible bailout of the near-bankrupt New World Resources. The bondholders argue an “uncontrolled” collapse of the company, which employs about 13,000 people, would impose significant costs on the government. Industry and Trade Minister, Jan Mladek, said he objected to being “blackmailed by someone saying we can save [US$680 million] if we cooperate with them.” (Bloomberg, Bloomberg)
Indonesia offers subsidy for new coal plants: The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has reportedly agreed coal supplied to proposed mine-mouth power stations would be guaranteed a profit margin of 15 to 25 per cent above the production cost. Indonesian coal companies, which have been hit by a significant fall in export demand, are seeking to diversify into domestic power generation. The Indonesian Government has proposed adding up to 20,000 MW of new coal capacity by 2020, which could double the current domestic coal consumption of about 90 million tonnes. (Platts)
Court overturns higher tariff bid by Adani and Tata Power: The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity has overturned a lower court order awarding Adani Power and Tata Power a compensatory tariff on power purchase agreements for two 4000 MW ‘ultra-mega’ power projects. The tribunal ruled the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission did not have the power to vary tariffs on plants awarded by competitive tender. However, the tribunal accepted the increased cost of coal imports could constitute grounds for ‘force majeure’ and, if on investigation deemed reasonable, prices could be re-negotiated but only within the terms of the existing contracts. (Moneycontrol, Livemint)
Indian coal importers under investigation: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has warned Indian customs agencies to check coal imports for artificially inflated prices designed to “siphon off money abroad.” In a memo the DRI noted that inflated import prices aimed to ensure power companies gained “higher power tariff compensation” and resulted in end users paying a higher than necessary power price. Coal importers being monitored include subsidiaries of Adani, Reliance, Essar Power, JSW Steel and publicly-owned utilities including NTPC. (Times of India)
Coal India slashes coal price to ease glut: With coal stockpiles at mines and power stations reaching 97 million tonnes, Coal India has announced it will cut the price for its top grade coal by between 10 and 40 per cent for the year to March 2017. Coal India, which produces about 80 per cent of India’s coal, has cut prices in a bid to undercut coal imports rather than reduce its rapidly growing production. In late January Coal India rejected the idea of reducing prices on the grounds it would adversely affect the profitability of the majority publicly-owned company. (Economic Times)

Vattenfall proposes sale to Czech utility: The Swedish government-owned utility Vattenfall has reached in-principle agreement to sell three lignite power plants and five open-cast mines in eastern Germany to the Czech company EPH. State governments have opposed the sale plan, flagging concerns about cost-cutting and rehabilitation liabilities, while climate change groups argue changed ownership will do nothing to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The final decision on the sale will be made by Vattenfall’s supervisory board on April 17. (Wall Street Journal, Climate Home)


Dodging clean up costs: six tricks coal mining companies play, Environmental Justice Australia, April 2016. (Pdf)
This 13-page report details six strategies being used by coal companies in Australia to defer and minimise their liability for rehabilitation of mine sites.
Tweet: Dodging clean up costs: six tricks coal mining companies play. Download our report here https://t.co/0f1ypMFj4O
Incapacitated: Why the capacity market for electricity generation is not working, and how to reform it, IPPR, March 31, 2016. (Pdf) (Key points here.)

This report argues the UK’s capacity market is deeply flawed and proposes a series of changes to ensure it supports a transition to a newer, more efficient power generation rather than propping up old coal and gas plants.

Unfit to Breathe – A Report On Air Quality Around The Thermal Power Plant Cluster in Ennore, Tamil Nadu, Coastal Resource Centre, April 2016. (Pdf)
The report details high air pollution levels in four villages near coal-fired thermal power plants in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Vietnamese artists say “I can’t” to coal pollution, Change/350.org Vietnam, April 2016.

Change and 350.org have launched a series of themed photos of celebrities, artists and citizens in the not-too imaginary world of living with widespread pollution from existing and proposed coal plants. (The photo albums on Flicker are here.)

Tweet: Vietnamese artists say “I can’t” to #coal #pollution http://bit.ly/1RQEqIN Flickr photo albums http://bit.ly/1SuR1yB #Vietnam

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 editor@coalwire.org CoalWire is archived at www.coalwire.org

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