November 7, 2013
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Climate summit host drags feet on coal

Ahead of the United Nations climate conference in Warsaw, the Polish Prime Minister has been urged by a coalition of environmental groups to withdraw his support for the Opole power plant expansion. In a letter published in an influential Polish newspaper, Rzeczpospolita, the groups raise concerns about the cost of the plant for Polish consumers. The President of state-owned utility PGE has stated that the new plant would only be economically viable if the wholesale electricity price was increased by 50%. Poland, which is heavily reliant on lignite-fired power stations, has been a leading opponent of moves by the European Union to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy capacity. (TckTckTck, New York Times)

Suggested Tweet: Groups urge  PM  to drop costly Opole  plant, back renewables

top news

BHP Billiton scraps export terminal plan: BHP Billiton has scrapped its plan to build a US$4.75 billion coal export terminal at Abbot Point which adjoins the Great Barrier Reef, citing poor market demand. The company planned to build a 60 million tonnes-a-year export terminal and associated 250-kilometre long railway. The company has also withdrawn the proposed Red Hill and Saraji East metallurgical coal projects from Queensland’s environmental assessment process. (Guardian, Australian Financial Review)

Australian government approves Galilee Basin mega-mine: The Australian government has approved the 30 million tonnes- a-year Kevin’s Corner thermal coal mine proposed by the Indian company, GVK. Community groups are considering a legal challenge against the decision. (Guardian, GVK)

Coal tailings dam collapses: An estimated one billion cubic metres of mine wastes spilled into Canada’s Athabasca River after the collapse of a tailings dam at Sherritt International’s Obed Mountain coal mine. Five days after the disaster the state government’s environmental regulator warned residents and farmers not to use water from the river. (Edmonton Journal)

Election rebuff for US coal terminal supporters: Candidates backed by environmental groups appear likely to win all four contested seats on the seven-member Whatcom County Council in Washington state. The council will determine whether to grant permits for the proposed 48-million- tonne- a-year Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. The election outcome has been welcomed by the Sierra Club. (Seattle Post Intelligencer, Sierra Club)
Thai energy ministry eyes coal: The Ministry of Energy has signalled that it wants to amend the national power development plan to prioritise new coal plants based on imported coal as a way of offsetting declining domestic gas resources. Since the 1990s there has been strong public opposition to coal plants, with two having been cancelled. (Platts)

Australian contractor faces Indian corruption inquiry: The decision by the National Thermal Power Corporation to award a mining contract for the controversial Pakri Bawadih coal mine in Jharkhand state is being scrutinised by India's Central Bureau of Investigation. The mining consortium which won the contract comprises Minecs Finvest (a company controlled by the brother of a former coal minister), and a subsidiary of Thiess, an Australian construction company. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Lords move to curtail coal plants: The House of Lords has amended the government’s energy bill to require existing coal-fired power stations to meet carbon dioxide emissions limits. If the amendment is accepted by the House of Commons, coal -fired plants – which currently supply 40% of the country’s electricity – would be relegated to catering for peak load. (Guardian, Platts)


Canada: Port Metro Vancouver concealed coal conference funding.

Germany: Utility concedes “not an ideal point of time” to commission new coal plants.

Montenegro: Nine companies have submitted bids for a 300 megawatt (MW) coal plant.

Pakistan: Two 600MW coal units approved with eye on Asian Development Bank funding.
South Africa: President Zuma’s son involved with coal company which flouted green laws.

US: The Navajo Nation has bought BHP Billiton’s Navajo Mine for US$85 million.

US: Legal challenge lodged against new Louisiana coal export proposal.

"The entire world population could fit in this hole [the Belchatow mine],”

Tomasz Tarnowski, a local Polish administrator, proudly told the New York Times.

companies + markets

Mongolian railway deal: Shenhua, China’s biggest coal producer, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mongolia’s state-owned railway company to build a rail line from the Tavan Tolgoi coal field to the Chinese border.  Shenhua has also signed a separate agreement with three coal companies which will “endeavour” to supply up to one billion tonnes of mostly metallurgical coal over a 20-year period. (Bloomberg, Mongolian Mining Company)

Botswana in talks over coal railways: The government of Botswana is in discussions with South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique over the possibility of building up to 3,700 kilometres of railway lines to carry coal to the ports of Richards Bay, Walvis Bay and Maputo. The railway lines are estimated to cost US$33 billion. (Bloomberg)

Sri Lanka ponders investing in overseas coal mines: Faced with the increasing cost of supplying new coal plants, the government is considering buying a stake in coal mines in Australia, China and Russia. (Sunday Times)
Losses mount for Indonesian producers: Falling thermal coal export prices have cut the profitability of Indonesian producers by as much as 20 per cent according to a financial analyst. Yualdo Yudoprawiro, a research analyst with PT Samuel Sekuritas Indonesia, warned in a research report that “operating costs for Indonesian companies will also increase next year, particularly due to the increase in the strip ratio and higher fuel prices and company royalties.” (Jakarta Post)

Pressure builds for Norway to divest from coal: The opposition Labour Party has announced they want a ban on the country's US$800 billion sovereign wealth fund investing in coal companies. The Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats have indicated their support for the change. The fund has approximately US$10 billion invested in coal-mining companies including BHP Billiton, Vale, Anglo American and Shenhua. (Reuters)

"People think coalmines are goldmines. They're not. Coalminers are very conscious of costs these days and all of them want to keep their costs to a minimum,”

Brad Fish, the chief executive of North Queensland Bulk Ports, which operates major coal export terminals, told The Australian.


Clean Energy Action, Warning: Faulty Reporting on U.S. Coal Reserves, October 2013.

This report provides a detailed critique of the notion that the US has huge reserves of coal that will be cheap to mine for decades to come. Instead, the report asserts that we are likely rapidly approaching the end of US coal that can be mined at a profit. 

Laura Edie, Too many ports in a storm, Centre for Policy Development, October 2013. (Pdf)

This report reviews the existing and proposed coal expert terminals in Queensland and concludes that, as a result of existing overcapacity, no further port projects need to be decided before 2020.

take action

Sign on letter to keep coal out of the Clean Development Mechanism

Carbon Market Watch is seeking organisations to sign on to an open letter opposing the inclusion of coal projects in the Clean Development Mechanism. The letter will be sent to all Ministers for the Environment attending the Climate Change Conference in Warsaw next week. To sign on, simply add your organisation name at by Thursday 7 November. (The letter is available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, German and Hindi).

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