November 6, 2014


South African blackouts dent Big Coal’s sales pitch

“The collapse of a single coal storage silo at a major power station in South Africa last Saturday has revealed the hollowness of global coal industry’s sales pitch that coal plants are ‘very reliable’ and crippled the credibility of the government-owned utility, Eskom,” writes Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: South African blackouts dent Big #Coal’s sales pitch @renew_economy #Eskom

No DICE: Greg Hunt deceives the public about ‘clean’ coal project

“[Australian] Environment Minister Greg Hunt should be investigated for misleading and deceptive conduct. He talks repeatedly about the potential to clean up our coal-fired power stations, reducing their emissions by 30-50%, by installing you-beaut Direct Injection Carbon Engines, when the technology is drastically underfunded, unavailable at scale, and has a colourful history of unsuccessful research sponsored for very many years by one of ICAC’s [Independent Commission Against Corruption] favourite miners, Travers Duncan,” writes Paddy Manning in Crikey.

Suggested Tweet: No DICE: Aust Env Minister Greg Hunt deceives the public about ‘clean’ #coal project @gpaddymanning

Will the US Environmental Protection Agency coal ash rule survive?

“Sometime after midnight [October 28], the White House made it official — its review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) coal ash rule has begun. The quiet posting of the rule by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sets in motion OMB’s official regulatory review pursuant to a 1993 executive order. That this process officially began under the cover of darkness is an apt metaphor … Rules never come out the way they go in—the offices of OMB are littered with crumpled pages of strong rules gone soft after revision by the White House,” writes Lisa Evans from Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law group.

Suggested Tweet: Hoping @WhiteHouse will NOT cave into #coal industry pressure again and gut #coalash rule @Earthjustice

top news

Study estimates 670,000 Chinese died in 2012 from coal smog: A study has estimated that 670,000 Chinese people died prematurely from exposure to smog caused by coal burning in 2012. The study estimates that about 70 per cent of China’s population lives in areas where PM2.5 pollution levels are higher than the Government’s 35 micrograms per cubic metre benchmark. The authors estimated the external costs of coal as being about US$27 per tonne while the Government levied a pollution fee of less than a dollar. (South China Morning Post)

Former Indian Coal Secretary released on bail pending corruption charges: The former Coal secretary HC Gupta, two current senior public servants and two executives from Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Limited (KSSPL) have been granted bail pending a hearing on charges against them over the allocation of the Thesgora-B/ Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh. Gupta is facing charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act while all five are accused of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust by a public servant and cheating. The case centres on KSSPL inflating its asset value on application forms for the allocation of the coal block. (Times of India, Economic Times)

New Indonesian President abandons coal railway: Indonesia’s National Development Planning Minister, Andrinof Chaniago, has announced that a proposed coal railway in central Kalimantan will not be funded under the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development promoted by former President Bambang Yudhoyono. (Jakarta Post)
Underground mine poses risk to Sydney region water supply: Scientists have expressed alarm over a proposal by Wollongong Coal – which is owned by the Indian company Jindal Steel and Power – to expand a coal mine under a major New South Wales water supply catchment. The Australian Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee concluded that it “is considered very likely that there will be significant impacts to water resources” from the proposed expansion. (ABC)

West Virginia lab sidelined after falsified samples scandal: The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has refused to accept pollution monitoring reports from Appalachian Laboratories, the company which employed John Shelton who recently pleaded guilty to falsifying test results on coal mine water samples. Appalachian Laboratories has won a stay until December 11 on a DEP decision to revoke the laboratory’s accreditation and has launched a further appeal against the department. (Charleston Gazette, Charleston Gazette)

Myanmar unveils power plan: The director at the Ministry of Electric Power, Myint Oo, has unveiled a plan to expand Myanmar’s power generation sevenfold by 2031 including 12 new coal plants and 20 hydro plants. The proposed coal plants would have a combined capacity of 12,780 MW. A broad coalition of civil society groups has expressed alarm about the proposals, which mostly rely on international private investment. (The Nation)

“Increased use of coal relative to other energy sources has reversed the long-standing trend in gradual decarbonisation (i.e., reducing the carbon intensity of energy) of the world’s energy supply,”

states the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Climate Change 2014 report.


Australia: Redbank power station closes after just 13 years operation.

India: At least 18 companies and a bank appeal against Supreme Court ‘Coalgate’ decision.

Turkey: Cengiz Holding’s coal plant poses risk to Mediterranean seals and loggerhead turtles.
South Africa: Transnet puts proposed new Richards Bay coal terminal on back-burner.

US: Coal freighter runs aground in Detroit River near DTE’s Trenton power station.

“It seems like no-one wants any type of power plant built in their backyard,”

said Ratanachai Namwong, the Deputy Governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand who has responsibility for overseeing new power plant projects.

companies + markets

UK coal imports plummet: Data released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change has revealed that in August 2014 coal imports fell 56 per cent compared to the same month in 2013; the lowest monthly amount since the records were first compiled in 1995. Lower coal consumption in the past three months to the end of August reflects lower electricity demand, the conversion of one coal plant from coal to wood, increased renewable generation and several power outages. (Platts, Department of Energy and Climate Change)

US coal company edges closer to debt woes: The price of unsecured corporate bonds issued by debt-laden Arch Coal have fallen to less than 50 cents in the dollar as doubts grow that coal prices will rise sufficiently before the company’s debts fall due. Arch Coal is US$5.2 billion in debt. About half was taken on in 2011 when it bought metallurgical coal assets owned by the International Coal Group. Arch Coal has US$1.8 billion of loans maturing in 2018, US$1.7 billion in 2019 and US$1.5 billion due by 2021. (St Louis Post-Dispatch)
Thai utility pushes for coal plant boom: The publicly-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has proposed the construction of an additional seven coal-fired power plants by 2022 to meet growing demand and “provide capacity that exceeds the peak load by 30 to 50 per cent.” Faced with community opposition to new projects EGAT is considering constructing several new plants on land owned by the Thai military. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)

“China remains a large, price-sensitive buyer that continues to set a price ceiling on the seaborne [thermal coal] market even as import volumes decline … As the Chinese economy rebalances, new mining capacity continues to be delivered well in excess of what the domestic market now requires, and will continue to do so until 2016,”

wrote Goldman Sachs in a report explaining why it was downgrading its forecast coal prices for 2015 and 2016 by 10 and 9 per cent respectively.


“Recent climate and air pollution impacts on Indian agriculture”, PNAS, November 3, 2014.

This research paper finds that the combined effect of climate change and pollutants – including from the burning of coal – has significantly cut wheat yields in India.

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

                  subscribe to CoalWire         unsubscribe from this list        update subscription preferences