February 6, 2014
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Chinese pollution data puts the heat on coal

From January 1 the Chinese Government has required 15000 industrial plants to publicly disclose air and water emissions in real-time. Examining this data, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), a Beijing-based NGO, found that there is a group of major emitters, including coal-fired power stations, which “are seriously exceeding pollution discharge limits.” IPE are working to develop a smartphone app which highlights those plants exceeding legal limits. “What we aim to do, through public pressure, is help the environment protection bureau to enforce the law,” said Ma Jun, the head of IPE. (Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Washington Post)

Suggested Tweet:  Real-time #China pollution data reveals major #coal plants exceeding pollution limits http://bit.ly/1akVtk6 http://wapo.st/MS2HBX

NGO coalition challenges Japanese coal financing

A coalition of Japanese NGOs is pushing the government-funded Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to follow other international banks and back away from funding coal projects. In the last decade JBIC has funded 21 coal projects and is currently considering financing the controversial 2000 megawatt (MW) Batang coal-fired power project in Indonesia. While the project has stirred strong local community opposition in Indonesia, it has been endorsed by the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. (No Coal! Go Green!)

Suggested Tweet:  Japanese NGOs push Japan's intnt'l bank #JBIC to end funding for #coal projects such as 2GW #Batang plant #Indonesia http://sekitan.jp/jbic/?lang=en

top news

Sardines shut down Chilean coal plant:  Chile's environmental regulator, SMA, has ordered a 15-day suspension of Endesa Chile's 128 MW Bocamina I coal-fired plant. The suspension was ordered after the power station’s cooling intake sucked in a shoal of sardines. The suspension, which ends on February 12, may be extended. (Reuters, BNamericas)

South African Government plans faster mine approvals: The South African Government plans to introduce a bill in February aimed at limiting the processing of new mining project applications to 300 days. The Minister for Minerals and Energy, Susan Shabangu, told a coal industry conference that under the proposed law that when a company applied for a prospecting licence or a mining licence it would simultaneously apply for water and environmental licences. (Mining Weekly) 

Abbot Point terminal project hinges on finance after waste dumping approved: The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has granted the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation permission to dump three million tonnes of sediment from the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal. Despite the approval, the viability of the port project hinges on whether the Australian transport company Aurizon invests US$2.7 billion with Indian company GVK to build rail and port infrastructure, which would enable the Alpha coal project in the Galilee Basin to proceed. (Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian)
New Delhi’s air worse than Beijing: Small particle pollution for both PM2.5 and PM10 is worse on average in India’s capital, New Delhi, than Beijing.  For the first three weeks of January New Delhi’s PM2.5 average peak levels were twice that of Beijing’s. Apart from one day, New Delhi’s daily peak levels were over twelve times higher than the World Health Organisation standard. (New York Times)

Major US coal ash spill: Over 74000 tonnes of coal ash and 102 million litres of contaminated water has spilled from a Duke Energy coal ash dam into the Dan River in North Carolina. The dam, which is designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a “high hazard” site, contained coal ash from the Dan River Steam Station which closed in 2012. Duke Energy has eight other “high hazard” coal ash dams in the state.  (ABC News, Sierra Club)
US standards on coal ash in 2014: To settle a lawsuit brought by a coalition of ten public interest groups, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to finalise standards on the disposal of coal ash from power plants by December 19, 2014. In June 2010 the EPA issued draft standards but, despite receiving over 450,000 public comments, did not finalise a rule. (Sierra Club, Grist)

“A large coal base is going to work out to be very expensive for us … The fuel, going into the future, is uncertain. Not because you can’t dig it out of the ground but because of possible carbon taxes or penalties we may face as a country producing products from coal,”

said Nelisiwe Magubane, the director-general of South Africa’s Energy Department.


Australia: Petition to cover NSW coal wagons garners broad support.

Australia: Coal-to-liquids project abandoned after Chinese joint venturer quits.

Colombia: Six Drummond employees to be charged over 2013 sea dumping of coal.
Philippines: Fourteen coal projects under consideration says Energy Secretary.

US: Call to suspend new federal coal leases after report finds flaws in allocation process.

US: Louisiana coal terminal fuels controversy.


“While there is a degree of optimism in the metallurgical market that 2014 could be the year of price recovery, it should not be forgotten that market fundamentals, if anything, continue to get worse,”

Investment analysts Macquarie wrote in a note to clients in which they cut their forecast prices for coking coal for the next two years.

companies + markets

Pakistan Government backs unfunded lignite project: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif joined a ground-breaking ceremony at the proposed 3960 MW lignite-fired plant in Tharparkar district. However, the bulk of funding for the US$1.6 billion first phase of the project has yet to be secured. Shamsuddin A Shaikh, the CEO of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, said that potential funders “had some concerns” about the project. (Express-Tribune)

Indian developer shifts focus from coal to solar: Hindustan Power Projects (HPP), formerly known as Moser Baer Projects, is shifting its focus from developing coal power projects to solar. HPPL has interests in three proposed coal-fired power projects, one of which is currently under construction. The Chairman of HPPL, Ratul Puri, said that “coal-based power generation has lost some momentum due to issues around coal availability and mining.” (Economic Times)

Coal India ponders production cut: Coal India, the government-owned coal mining company which produces 80% of the country’s coal, has flagged that it may cut production forecasts for 2014-15 by 23 million tonnes due to uncertainty of railway upgrades. Proposed railway upgrades in Jharkhand and Odisha have been delayed due to land acquisition issues and the need for permits to clear forested areas. (The Telegraph)
Coal demand and prices slide: Concern about the falling value of currencies and slowing growth in emerging economies has prompted a fall in demand for coal globally. As a result, prices for Australian and South African coal exports slumped in January. “People might see India cutting back on coal purchases and thermal coal prices might come down further,” said George Cheveley from the South African company Investec Asset Management.(Reuters)

Indonesia proceeds with royalty increase: The Director General of Coal and Mineral Resources at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, R. Sukhyar, has announced that royalties will increase for some coal companies from the three to five per cent range to 13.5 per cent. It is estimated that the increase could raise an extra US$327 million. (Jakarta Globe)

“Many power plants are beginning to worry about the inspections and have begun to switch to higher-quality coal with lower sulphur and ash content,”

an anonymous Beijing-based trader told Reuters.


Government Accountability Office, BLM Could Enhance Appraisal Process, More Explicitly Consider Coal Exports, and Provide More Public Information, GAO-14-140, December 2013.

This report provides a wealth of detail on the US federal coal leasing program and the flawed processes used to value publicly-owned coal. Just over 40 per cent of the 950 million tonnes of coal produced in the US comes from leased federal land.

Save Punta de Choros, YouTube, January 2014.

This is a moving 5-minute documentary on the successful campaign to stop GDF-Suez from building a 540 MW coal plant near the Punta de Choros wildlife sanctuary in Chile. The full hour-long documentary is also available on YouTube here.

2014 Sierra Club National Survey on Coal, Climate & Carbon Pollution, Sierra Club, January 2014.

This quantitative survey of 1,000 registered US voters details their attitudes to climate change, proposals to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, their preferred balance between clean energy and fossil-fuelled power, and which arguments they find most persuasive.

take action

Help push the UK government to regulate private sector lending for coal.

The UK-based World Development Movement is seeking signatures on a letter to Ed Davey, the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, urging greater regulation of private banks’ lending activities to the coal sector. The petition is here.

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

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