January 2, 2014


Public comments oppose Vancouver port expansion

Over 3500 public comments critical of aspects of Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed Fraser Surrey docks coal port expansion were submitted on the project’s environmental impact assessment. An assessment by Voters Taking Action for Climate Change (VTACC) revealed just six comments supporting the project. “I don’t see how they can possibly approve (the Surrey project) in the next little while, and possibly show any respect for the process that they initiated … They’ve got some serious comment and expert critiques, and they’ve got to show they’ve taken the time to consider them,” said VTACC director Kevin Washbrook. (The Vancouver Sun)

top news

Report urges changes to US federal coal leasing: A report by a US Congressional task force on climate change has recommended changes to coal mining on federal lands. The report recommended that the Bureau of Land Management should increase royalty rates, revise how it determines ‘fair market value’ for coal and reform leasing practices in the Powder River Basin. (Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, Grist)

Doubts over Galilee Basin mega-mine despite approval: The Australian Government has approved the proposed 40 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) China First coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. The project, which is owned by Clive Palmer (who was recently elected to the Federal Parliament), faces considerable financial hurdles as well as uncertainty over proposed dredging for an expansion of the Abbot Point coal export terminal. (Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian)

Fossil forest stalls Nunavut coal exploration: A proposed coal exploration program on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut has been shelved after protests by local residents and North American scientists. Canada Coal had proposed exploring in an area renowned for unique fossils from over 50 million years ago. (Alaska Dispatch)

Peabody fails in bid to alter water quality baseline: Iron levels in a stream flowing into a Sydney water supply catchment doubled following the expansion of an underground coal mine owned by a subsidiary of Peabody Energy. The company proposed shifting the water quality baseline to a date after the mine expansion, thereby allowing higher levels of pollution. However, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure stated that this was “inappropriate”. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Company cans Alaskan exploration project: Public opposition has prompted Riversdale Alaska, a subsidiary of an Australian coal company, to shelve its Chickaloon coking coal exploration project. Two other proposed coal projects in the Matunuska Valley, and a further three elsewhere in south-central Alaska, remain under consideration. (Alaska Public Media, Alaskans First)

Two Indian ‘Ultra-Mega’ projects inch forward: The Power Finance Corporation, the Indian government agency managing bids for Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs), has approved a shortlist of nine bidders for the Odisha UMPP and eight for the Cheyyur UMPP. The Odisha UMPP is a proposed pit-head project while the Cheyyur UMPP would rely on imported coal. Both projects have been proposed on a ‘design, build, finance, operate and transfer’ basis. (Economic Times)

Legal challenge over two NSW mines fails: The Federal Court of Australia has upheld the Federal Government’s approval of two mines which propose to clear critically-endangered woodland which is home to several endangered species. The two proposed projects are Whitehaven Coal’s 13 mtpa Maules Creek mine and a 7 mtpa expansion of Idemitsu’s existing Boggabri Mine. Opposition to the project continues. (Environmental Defenders Office, Lock the Gate Alliance)


India: Tata Power blames Mundra fire on spontaneous combustion of Indonesian coal.

North Korea: Conflict over coal sales to China behind execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle.

Russia: Met coal miner Mechel reports US$2.25 billion loss in first nine months of 2013.
Sri Lanka: Troubled new Chinese-built coal plant shuts down again as losses mount.

United States: Data reveals electricity sales have fallen in four of the past five years.

UK: 2000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired Eggborough power station likely to shut in 2015.

“We found $201m of mainly capital expenditure that had no clear business purpose. We don’t know where it went. We’re trying to trace the money. It went out through quite a sophisticated scheme,”

said Nick von Schirnding, the chief executive of coal company Bumi Plc which was recently renamed Asia Resource Minerals.

companies + markets

RWE plans coal contract cuts: With falling wholesale power prices, RWE is planning to terminate contracts to buy power from as many as three coal plants. In October RWE, Germany’s largest electricity producer, stated that decisions on 1450MW of contracted hard coal plants would be made by the end of 2013. According to an industry association, electricity use in Germany fell 1.8 per cent compared to 2012. (Businessweek)

Rupee depreciation hits Tamil Nadu plant: Cost overruns and the depreciation of the Indian rupee has forced the Dubai-based Coal & Oil Group to provide a further US$259 million to complete its 1200MW project in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. In September Coal & Oil’s subsidiary, Coastal Energen Private Ltd, was downgraded by the ratings agency, ICRA, due to concerns about cost overruns, exposure to the depreciating rupee and having a power purchase agreement for only 219MW. (NDTV, Business Standard)

Coking coal prices to languish longer: Investment analysts Macquarie forecast that metallurgical coal prices are likely to remain flat in 2014 due to oversupply caused by the commissioning of new mines. “With the Q1 2014 [first quarter 2014] hard coking coal settlement at [US]$143/t, the lowest in the history of quarterly contracts, the stage is set for another tough year in 2014,” Macquarie writes. (Macro Business)
Coal India hikes thermal coal prices: The government-owned coal producer, Coal India, has increased thermal coal prices from its western coal fields by 10 per cent. It has also increased some loading and other charges. The company is seeking to boost its profitability ahead of the sale of a five per cent stake to private investors in early 2014. (Business Standard)

Sherritt offloads troubled coal division: Sherritt International has sold its entire coal division, which owns seven coal mines in Canada, for a loss of US$433 million to the US-headquartered Westmoreland Coal Company. The sale includes the Obed mine where a tailings dam collapsed in October, polluting waterways. Sherritt has stated that it will meet all financial obligations arising from the disaster. (Sherritt International, Edmonton Journal)

“We see coal shrinking very rapidly from now on, probably contributing nothing by 2030. Coal is going to disappear off the system,”

said Michael Fallon, Britain’s Energy Minister.


"Ozone Monitoring Instrument Observations of Interannual Increases in SO2 Emissions from Indian Coal-Fired Power Plants during 2005–2012", Environmental Science and Technology, December 5, 2013.

This paper reveals that sulphur dioxide (So2) emissions from coal-fired power stations in India grew by 71% between 2005 and 2012, even though Indian government data indicated declining concentrations. The abstract is available for free. The full journal article costs US$35 for 48 hours access.
Paving the Way for a Transformational Future:  Lessons from Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) Phase I, World Bank, December 2013. (Pdf)

The report reviews the barriers to the rapid expansion of utility-scale solar photovoltaic electricity and concentrating solar thermal power in India.


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