November 5, 2015
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editor's note

Fading coal dreams are recurrent themes of the last week as the coal industry’s hype about the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project turns out to be as fanciful as Cloud Peak Energy’s plans for exports from the US West Coast. Elsewhere there’s the ugly side of coal developments: attempts to suppress or ignore the views of residents concerned about loss of land and pollution, such as with a proposed new coal plant in military-ruled Thailand, and a mine in a militarised area of Myanmar.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor


Boundary Dam CCS hype evaporates in a puff of green smoke

Leaked internal documents reveal major financial and technical problems with SaskPower’s  Boundary Dam CCS plant in Canada. The documents reveal the plant has been shut down for long periods due to technical problems and the utility is paying millions of dollars in penalty payments to an oil company for breaches of the contract for the sale of carbon dioxide. It’s another CCS debacle, writes Bob Burton in Endcoal.

Tweet: Boundary Dam #coal + #CCS hype evaporates in a puff of green smoke @BobBurtonoz

Coal barge sinking highlights risk to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans World Heritage

The sinking of a coal barge near the Sundarbans World Heritage site highlights the risks posed by plans to build a proposed coal plant in the area despite public opposition, writes Kristene Wong in TakePart.

Tweet: #Coal barge sinking highlights risk to #Bangladesh’s #Sundarbans #WorldHeritage @wongkxt

Cloud Peak Energy pays not to export US coal via Canada

Cloud Peak Energy, the major Powder River Basin producer which has pinned its hopes for growth on increasing exports to the Asian market, has scrapped its ‘take-or-pay’ contract for export capacity at Westshore Terminals’ terminal in British Columbia. The decision is a “bombshell” writes  Clark Williams-Derry from the Sightline Institute in the US.

Suggested Tweet: Cloud Peak Energy pays not to export #US #coal via #Canada @ClarkWDerry

top news

Myanmar mine challenged: The Dawei Development Association, a Myanmar civil society group, told a public forum that Mayflower Mining’s Ban Chaung coal-mining project near the Thailand border has caused the destruction of local agricultural land and significant water and air pollution. No social or environmental impact assessment has been done on the project. Protests against the mine and two Thai companies working for Mayflower have been ignored by the armed ethnic militia in control of the area, or referred to the central Myanmar Government, which has little authority in the area. (Irrawaddy, The Nation)

Indian pollution report flawed, says NGO: A report prepared by the Indian Institute of Technology and used by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to justify the lifting of a ban on new power plants in the Korba area, assessed only three of the 12 parameters listed in the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring standard, according to a local NGO. The Central Pollution Control Board ranks Korba as the fifth worst ‘critically polluted area’ in India. Laxmi Chouhan, the Director of the NGO Sarthak, argues samples were only collected from seven locations despite there being 15 power plants, 13 coal mines, seven washeries and an aluminium plant in Korba. (Business Standard)

BHP Billiton lobbies for weaker Indonesian divestment law: BHP Billiton – along with other major mining companies – is pressing the Indonesian Government to relax legislative provisions requiring overseas companies to divest a majority of their stake within 10 years of commencing mining. BHP Billiton has started mining   its controversial IndoMet Coal Project in Central Kalimantan. While claiming that it needs “certainty” to progress further, a BHP Billiton executive told a mining conference in September that the company planned to develop the next stage of the project in 2017, though later backtracked from this. (Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald)
Secrecy, coercion and a new Thai plant: Villagers and residents near the proposed 2000 megawatt (MW) Thepha plant and associated port are alarmed at the potential impacts from the cooling water, pollution from the plant, the disposal of the coal ash and the displacement of hundreds of villagers. They argue that the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the plant supporters have gone out of their way to block public discussion of the project with residents of one village eight kilometres from the plant banned from attending a public hearing. (Bangkok Post, CoalSwarm)

Call for closure of Indonesian coal port over coal dust: Residents concerned about coal dust pollution have called for the government to end coal loading and unloading at Cirebon Port in West Java. Residents of Panjunan, just 300 metres from the coal stockpile, complain of respiratory effects and coal dust entering the classrooms at nearby schools. An existing 660 MW coal plant is located nearby with a 1000 MW expansion by a consortium including Marubeni Corporation receiving financial support from the Japan Bank for International Corporation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and the Export-Import Bank of Korea. (Jakarta Post, Jakarta Post)

“My God, what else can come our way? … It’s got to be an environmentalist’s dream. It’s everything they could ask for to make it as difficult for the industry as possible,”

said Montana Coal Council executive director Bud Clinch after Montana’s largest coal producer, Cloud Peak Energy, announced that exports through British Columbia would would suspend its coal export commitments from 2016 to 2018.


China: Sichuan coal company set to default on US$190 million debt, reflecting stress in coal sector.

Finland: Greenpeace activists delay coal ship supplying Helsinki power plant.

Pakistan: Court allows resumption of work on Sahiwal power project pending November 24 hearing.
Swaziland: Indian companies JSW Energy and BHEL pitch coal plant proposal to King Mswati III.

US: PacRim appeals water right allocation to NGO on part of salmon stream near proposed mine.

Vietnam: After three months under water Vinacomin resumes production at Mong Duong mine.

companies + markets

Big fall of Indonesian coal exports in 2015: Indonesian coal production has fallen 52 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014, according to data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. This represents a 14 per cent fall. Coal exports fell by 58 million tonnes to 293 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2015, an almost 20 per cent fall compared to the same period last year. The Indonesian Coal Mining Association estimates that exports in 2016 will be less than 300 million tonnes, down from the projected 330 to 360 million tonnes in 2015. (Jakarta Post, Reuters)

Resgen’s South African mine turmoil: Resource Generation’s construction of the proposed 6 million tonnes-per-annum Boikarabelo coal mine in the Waterberg region is facing financial difficulties. The company’s financial reserves are diminishing while restive shareholders want the board replaced at a November 26 special general meeting. However, the current board argues that a US$520 million financial lifeline from a Swiss private investment company might be cancelled if the existing directors are dumped. (BDLive)

Colombia as export market price-setter: Seaborne coal prices in the Asian market are unlikely to rise much in the medium term due to as much as 25 million tonnes of unutilised export capacity in Colombia. However, the successful legal action by residents of Bosciano forcing a ban on night-time railway use has cut export capacity by as much as 10 million tonnes a year.  The dramatic depreciation of the Colombian peso, compared to the more modest fall of the Australian or Indonesian currencies against the US dollar, is likely to result in Colombian coal being exported to Asia if thermal coal prices rise to US$60-65, according to Reuters columnist Clyde Russell. (Reuters)
As US utilities cut coal, miners struggle to plan mine production: US coal companies are faced not only with rapidly-falling domestic demand but growing difficulty planning mine production as utilities shift away from long-term contracts. With gas prices falling and reduced utilisation of coal plants, the president, CEO and director of Allied Resource Partners, Joe Craft, told investors that it was increasingly hard for coal producers to plan what their mine production levels should be. (SNL)

Indian Minister renews imports phase-out claim: With thermal coal imports falling by 22 per cent in September compared to the previous year the Minister for Coal and Power, Piyush Goyal, stated that “in two years from now, we should be able to become self-sufficient and we will not have to import, particularly thermal coal.” Goyal estimates that Coal India’s production will increase to 550 million tonnes for the year to March 2016. To allow increased coal production the Ministry of Environment and Forests is controversially weakening provisions protecting forests and major watersheds from mining. (Times of India, Scroll)


Designing Low Carbon Electricity Futures for African and Other Developing Countries, International Rivers, October 2015. (Pdf)

This 20-page briefing paper assesses the prospects for renewable energy development with a particular emphasis on Africa.

Ban Chaung Coal Mining Report 2015, Tarkapaw Youth Group, Dawei Development Association and the Tenasserim River & Indigenous People Networks, October 2015. (Pdf)

This report details the environmental and social impacts of Mayflower Mining Company’s Ban Chaung coal mining project in Dawei District of Myanmar.

“Malcom Turnbull’s five mistakes about coal”, Sydney Morning Herald, October 29, 2015.

This article provides a detailed rebuttal of common coal industry claims. While the column is cast in the context of the debate over coal exports from Australia, much of the the critique remains valid elsewhere.

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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