May 15, 2014

Forty hours in jail for Mahan’s forests, its people and their rights

“After spending forty hours in jail and judicial custody, I came out feeling even more motivated and determined to continue this struggle to save forests. Bechanlalji is still in custody and getting him out is our first priority. We can't be at ease till he is safe. The day after our release I saw even more people had turned up to join the Van Satyagraha. Our arrest didn't discourage anyone from participating in the struggle to save Mahan's forests. We could see the anger in everyone's eyes and the determination to fight for the forests peacefully,” writes Askkay Gupta, a campaigner with Greenpeace India.

Suggested Tweet: “Forty hours in jail for #Mahan’s forests, its people and their rights”: struggle to stop @Essar #coal mine in #India

Indonesian Community Leaders Arrested For Coal Activism

“As two community leaders fighting the Batang coal plant in Indonesia begin their seven-month prison sentence this week in Indonesia, thousands of coal activists are protesting in solidarity. In what is viewed as punishment for refusing to sell their land to make way for the US$4 billion Central Java coal-burning power plant in Batang, Indonesia, Cayadi bin Rabu and Carman bin Tuyah were accused of mistreating pro-coal activists in April 2012 and thrown in jail. Fortunately, judges in the district and high courts found them not guilty. But, more than two years later, the Supreme Court in Indonesia has reversed that decision and sentenced Cayadi and Carman to seven months in prison,” writes Justin Guay and Nicole Ghio in Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: Community leaders arrested for opposing Batang #coal plant in Java pushed by #Japan #Indonesia @Guay_JG @nicoleghio

Thiess Indian coal plans ended by landowner opposition

“Prolonged opposition to the proposed huge Pakri Barwadih coal mine in India, which could displace hundreds of villagers, has resulted in a subsidiary of the Australian construction company Thiess being stripped of a A$5.5 billion mining contract. The mine, together with two others slated to be built in the Karanpura Valley in Jharkhand by other companies, are hugely controversial as 17 villages are slated for demolition with approximately 8,000 villagers facing displacement if the three projects proceed,” writes Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: #Thiess Indian #coal plans ended by landowner opposition #India @BobBurtonoz


Local opposition topples proposed Great Barrier Reef coal port

Local residents have celebrated news that a coal port proposed for the Fitzroy Delta adjoining the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has formally lapsed. The US$950 million project, which was touted in mid-2011 as having a planned capacity of 22 million tonnes of coal per annum, triggered broad-based local opposition. The project was opposed unanimously by the Livingstone Shire Council, representatives of the conservative Liberal and National Party in both the state and federal parliament and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. Spokeswoman for the Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance, Ginny Gerlach, said the collapse of the proposal opened the way for the federal and state governments to protect the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island. (Whitsunday Times)

Suggested Tweet: Community opposition defeats #coal port proposed for Fitzroy Delta, Australia

top news

US groups lodge legal challenge to Peabody mine: Two US environmental groups have lodged a legal challenge against a decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior to approve a plan by Peabody Energy to mine two leased areas adjoining its North Antelope mine in Wyoming. The groups argue that the company has failed to rehabilitate lands and return them for public use at its existing mine, a factor which should have been considered before granting Peabody Energy permission for additional mining. (SNL)

Peabody Energy’s annual meeting dogged by protests: More than 70 people protested outside the annual general meeting of Peabody Energy, one of the world’s largest coal miners and exporters. A dozen were arrested when they tried to enter the building to present a letter to Peabody CEO, Greg Boyce. In a media statement Peabody Energy complained that the annual general meeting should not be a forum “for organizations to advance their own agendas or to perpetuate myths about coal.” (Riverfront Times,

Queensland government approves Adani’s Carmichael coal project: The Queensland Government has approved the Adani Group’s proposed US$15.5 billion Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin. While the Federal Government has yet to grant final approval for the project, analysts doubt their viability. “None on the street are assuming that these [Galilee Basin] projects will make any progress,” said Rakesh Arora, the head of research at Macquarie Capital's Mumbai office. (The Guardian, The Age)

Indian rail corridors coal face delay:  Indian Railways have told cabinet that three new rail corridors aimed at facilitating the transportation of up to 300 million tonnes of coal a year could be substantially delayed due to the need to acquire land and get approval for traversing forested areas. Two of the rail lines are in Jharkhand and one in Chhattisgarh. “Besides, law and order problems are also there ... So, it is unlikely that the projects would be completed in time,” an Indian Railways official stated. (Business Standard)
Vattenfall scraps CCS projects: The European power utility Vattenfall has announced that it “will discontinue its R&D activities regarding coal power with CCS” [Carbon Capture and Storage]. The company stated that it needed to “prioritise our R&D investments and choose whatever is most needed.” The company operates a 30 megawatt (MW) CCS pilot plant at Schwarze Pumpe lignite-fired power plant in Germany and one at the Ferrybridge power station in the UK. (Vattenfall, TCE Today)

Survey of Newcastle suburbs reveals opposition to new coal terminal: A survey of residents in the four suburbs closest to the existing and proposed coal terminals in Newcastle has revealed 90 per cent support for covering coal rail wagons; and 63 per cent of respondents opposing a proposed new coal terminal. The doorknocking survey was undertaken by groups involved in the Coal Terminal Action Group and canvassed the views of 1,270 residents. (Newcastle Herald)

US coal plant shutdown spurs tribe’s solar farm: NV Energy has filed a plan with regulators seeking approval to shut down the 557 MW coal-fired Reid Gardner plant in Nevada. The plan also proposes to take power from a new 200 MW solar farm on Moapa Band of Paiutes’ land, plus commission other renewable capacity. In 2013 Nevada passed a law, with support from a coalition including the Moapa Band and environmentalists, requiring 800 MW of coal plant capacity in the state to be shut down. (The Atlantic)

“More than 1.5 billion tonnes of coal – enough to create three metre-square columns stretching between the Earth and the moon – have been extracted from the Hunter Valley over the past 14 years,”

wrote the Newcastle Herald in an editorial.


Australia: Government scraps US$431 million for new CCS projects, provides US$180m for existing.

China: Coal power output grew by two per cent over year, less than half total growth.

India: Bollywood film delves into the world of the ‘coal mafia’.
Philippines: Government calls for bids for 87 coal blocks covering 87,000 hectares.

UK: SSE shuts 240 MW Uskmouth coal plant, the UK’s oldest and least efficient.

UK: Advertising regulator investigates Peabody Energy’s “energy poverty” ad.

“We maintain our forecast of a peak in Chinese net steam coal imports in 2016-17. Demand is increasing at a slower rate due to slower GDP growth and the fact that the boom period in the urbanisation and electrification of the country is now behind us, at least in the east of the country,”

stated Perret Associates, a London-based consultancy which specialises in coal and other commodities.

companies + markets

Coal company argues over 40% of seaborne tonnes sold at a loss:  Australian coal explorer Stanmore Coal suggested to an industry conference that approximately 320 million tonnes of thermal coal and 135 million tonnes of coking coal are being sold into the seaborne market at a loss. “A significant percentage of seaborne coal producers are unprofitable at current pricing levels - an unsustainable position,” the company stated. (Platts)

Sea of red ink for Polish coal miner: Falling coal prices have resulted in Kompania Weglowa (KW), Poland’s largest coal producer, losing US$326 million in 2013. The CEO of KW, MiroslawTaras, said “this year we will finish in the red … and the same is likely for the next two years.” Taras said that unless the company undertook a major restructuring “we will have to declare bankruptcy.” KW has 5 million tonnes of unsold coal. (Polskie Radio)

US miner ties coal to power price: Consol Energy has disclosed that it has entered into contracts with power utilities under which the coal price is linked to the sale price of electricity. “We're willing to go down to the cost of production if there is no ceiling [on power prices],” said James Grech, Consol Energy’s chief commercial officer. Grech explained that making coal a variable cost increased the ability of utilities to sell power into competitive power markets. (Platts)
Developer touts Mexican coal port as alternative to US West Coast: A private company, Mexport Coal & Minerals Terminal, has proposed to build a 30 million tonnes per annum coal export port in northwest Mexico. The terminal has been touted as catering for exports to the Pacific market for Powder River Basin and coal from Colorado and Utah. (SNL, SNL)

Ratings company sees met coal gloom for another year: In an assessment of the financial outlook for Peabody Energy, Fitch Ratings states that it expect metallurgical coal prices could remain flat for a year or more. While Fitch Ratings estimates hard coking coal could average US$135 for the next year it cautions that there is a “possibility that over-capacity persists in the metallurgical coal market and the hard coking coal benchmark price remains below $150/tonne (t) beyond the next 12-18 months.” (Fitch Ratings)

Mechel’s plan to offload railway founders: Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to entice Chinese companies to invest in Russian resource companies such as metallurgical coal producer Mechel. In a bid to reduce its debt levels, Mechel had sought to sell the 300 kilometre long railway from the Elgin mine to Baikal-Amur railway, to Russian Railways. However, the proposal was rejected. (Reuters, SNL (paywall))

“Don't be so nosey … You're a rank outsider, it's none of your business. Why should I tell you? Who are you anyway ... I don't care what you think and I don't care what you write,”

said Isaac George, the Chief Financial Officer of the Indian power and infrastructure company GVK, in response to questions from a journalist about how a company with US$3.45 billion in debt could finance its proposed Galilee Basin coal projects in Queensland.

resources                      take action

True Cost of Coal in the Philippines (Volume 1), Greenpeace Philippines, May 2014. (Pdf)

This report provides an overview of the key trends and issues in the Philippines affecting the use and production of coal.

Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database 2014, World Health Organization (WHO), May 2014.

The WHO has released details of PM10 and PM2.5 air pollution from almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries. The spreadsheet with annual mean data on a city and country levels is available here (Excel spreadsheet).

Tell Deutsche Bank to back away from financing more reef destruction

Market Forces is seeking signatories to a letter to Deutsche Bank seeking a commitment that they won’t provide funding for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. You can send an email to Deutsche Bank here.

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