October 3, 2013
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CoalWire is a weekly news bulletin which summarises the most significant developments affecting the global coal industry and highlights the efforts of groups around the world working on coal-related issues. Suggestions of material for future bulletins should be sent to editor@coalwire.org


Indonesia: Call to abandon proposed coal railway

The Indonesian government has been urged by environmental group Wahli (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) to scrap the proposed 148-kilometre PurukCahu-Bangkuang railway. The proposed US$2.6 billion public-private railway is aimed at allowing the expansion of coal mines in central Kalimantan. Environmental groups argue the project would devastate local watersheds and undermine government commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Mongabay)

top news

Australia: The new conservative Federal Government has decided that 47 proposed coal and coal-seam gas projects should be assessed for their impact on groundwater resources. Among those to be assessed are a number of proposed ‘mega mines’ in New South Wales and Queensland. (ABC News, Minister for the Environment)

Bangladesh: The High Court is considering an application to suspend work on the proposed Rampal power station until an expert committee has reviewed the likely impacts of the plant. Mounting opposition to the proposed 1,320 megawatt plant has garnered major international coverage. (BDLive, Time)

Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Cabinet has approved five further coal-fired plants to be built on a build-own-operate basis. The plants, ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 megawatts (MW), are proposed by the Orion Group and the S Alam Group to be based on imported coal. (BDLive)

China: The construction of 40 proposed coal to synthetic natural gas (SNG) plants would have profound climate, water and wider environmental impacts, warn two Duke University researchers. They also caution that the pursuit of SNG “could slow the deployment of renewable capacities that have even smaller carbon and water footprints and that generate less air and water pollution.” (Nature Climate Change, International Business Times)
Global:  While coal companies and some analysts project strong growth in coal demand for a decade or more, others disagree, arguing a peak in coal demand may happen within a few years. Central to the uncertainty are shifting patterns of growth in China, increasing environmental restrictions and the retreat of major international banks from most coal projects. (Financial Times)

India: The Ministry of Coal has identified 300kilometres of new railway lines which could enable the development of an additional 300-million tonnes of coal a year.  The projects face significant challenges including forestry and environment clearances, land acquisition, “rehabilitation and resettlement as well as law and order problems.” (Business Standard)

Indonesia: The Private Thai power company Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (RATCH) is investigating a potential mine mouth power station with Indonesian coal producer Banpu. RATCH is aiming to complete a feasibility study on the project this year. (Bangkok Post)

New Caledonia: The French government is backing a proposal by the nickel smelting company SLN to build a new coal-fired plant in Noumea, the territory’s capital. The proposed plant has encountered strong public opposition. (Radio New Zealand, Radio New Zealand)


Australia: Farmers legal challenge against Whitehaven’s Maules Creek mine fails.

Australia: Rio Tinto rejects bids from Adani and others for sale of Queensland mine.

Australia: Call to cover railway coal wagons in Queensland to protect public health.

Canada:  Former British Columbia mines minister appointed as coal company adviser.

Canada: Kootenai River watershed named amongst most endangered rivers due to coal mine runoff.

Czech Republic: Plan to close Paskov mines encounters opposition.

Egypt: Government contemplates three options for the country’s first coal plants.

India: Debt-laden Lanco Infratech looks to offload stake in coal power and mine project.

India: Opposition to new coal projects while Jindal contractors bus in supporters for public hearing.

India: Six coal blocks likely to be auctioned to private companies.

India: Central Bureau of Investigation questions Jindal over coal allocations.

India: Private power companies hit by low prices and lack of coal.
New Zealand: A second 250MW coal-fired unit at Huntley Power Station is shuttered.

Pakistan: Proposed Gadani 6,600MW power plant an “ill-conceived project.”

Philippines:  Japanese consortium aims to finalise 400MW expansion deal by December.

Philippines: Protest against proposed Palawan coal plant.

Slovakia: Increased fees force Enel to scrap 220MW of unprofitable coal plant.

Sri Lanka: Power utilities near agreement over proposed new coal plant.

South Africa: Minister for Science calls for rethink on proposed ‘Coal3’ power plant.

South Africa: Eskom’s proposed Coal3 power station costly, damaging and thirsty.

United States: Legislators form “Coal Caucus” to oppose limits on new coal plants.

United States: Coal lobby succeeds in having Obama nominee withdraw.

United States: Alaskan salmon river at risk from Chuitna coal mine.

“In case you hadn't heard, there is apparently a war on coal. But climate change is just one front–the U.S. coal industry's adversaries range from Beijing's coughing commuters to Australia's ailing dollar. And while many coal-mining stocks have crumbled in the face of this pressure, investors should remember that the shares are cheap for good reasons,”

wrote Liam Denning in the Wall Street Journal.

companies + markets

Goldman Sachs: A report on the US coal sector downgraded the outlook for Cloud Peak Energy, which operates mines in Montana’s Powder River Basin. The firm also downgraded Arch Coal from “neutral” to “sell”, prompting a share price fall of 6 percent. Arch Coal’s share price has fallen 42 percent this year. (Barron’s, Streetinsider, Businessweek)

Government bailout for NZ coal company: The New Zealand government has agreed to provide up to US$125 million to prevent the collapse of the government-owned coal mining company, Solid Energy. The company took on high levels of debt to support major new coal projects when global metallurgical coal prices were high. (Businessweek, Reuters)

Met coal woes: Increasing scrap steel supplies in China may undercut demand for metallurgical coal, according to BHP Billiton. Electric arc furnaces use scrap steel and little coking coal. Hatch Associates believes that a strong scrap industry is likely to merge in China soon. (The Australian)

Met coal exporter floundering: Gujarat NRE Coking Coal which sells metallurgical coal to its parent company, Indian-owned Gujarat NRE Coke, is teetering on the brink of insolvency. Employees are owed wages and superannuation but these are contingent on a bid by Jindal Steel and Power to buy a further 20% share being approved at an October 16 meeting. (Illawarra Mercury, Economic Times)


Banking while Borneo burns: How the UK financial sector is bankrolling Indonesia’s fossil fuel boom, World Development Movement, September 2013. (Pdf)

This report provides a detailed review of the ties of leading UK financial institutions to coal and other fossil fuel projects in Indonesia. The report has a particularly useful overview of coal mining in East Kalimantan and the new frontier of central Kalimantan.

Resources and Energy Quarterly, Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), September 2013. (Pdf)

The latest market analysis by BREE, a government agency which has a history of being a coal industry optimist, is for declining short to medium term prices but with moderate by increasing demand for thermal coal. For metallurgical coal BREE estimates flat prices and moderate demand growth.

Southeast Asia Energy Outlook: World Energy Outlook Special Report, International Energy Agency, September 2013. (Pdf)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts a near doubling of Southeast Asian greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, driven in large part by a massive expansion in electricity generation, with 60% of the growth based on coal. The IEA also forecasts a 90% increase in coal production in Indonesia to approximately 550 million tonnes. The report has detailed country-by-country reviews of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

take action

Sign the petition to stop the destructive Rampal power plant near Bangladesh’s Sunderbans World Heritage site.

Endorse the Power4People call for action for the World Bank and other international financial institutions to shift their global energy lending to ensure universal access to modern energy for all people in a sustainable and climate-resilient way by 2030. Send an email to Susanne@internationalrivers.org to endorse the call.

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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