April 30, 2015
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What big coal’s happy-clappers missed about Vietnam’s growing coal headache

“The reaction of the residents to the pollution from the Vinh Tan 2 power station reflects a growing disquiet in Vietnam about the likely pollution from as much as 60 gigawatts (GW) of new coal plants under consideration. As the movement against coal grows, the Vietnamese government is being pushed to investigate alternative options for meeting future electricity growth,” writes Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: What big #coal’s happy-clappers missed about #Vietnam’s growing coal headache bit.ly/1Gnv278 @bobburtonoz @renew_economy #pollution

Coal companies walk away from mine rehabilitation, leaving public to carry costs

“This is an account, scarcely mentioned in the national media, of the massive unfunded liabilities emerging from coalfields throughout Britain that opencast mining companies have been allowed to walk away from. In terms of irresponsibility, it’s comparable to the nuclear industry’s failure to fund its decommissioning costs. And it offers a solid argument, even to those who continue to reject climate science, for keeping fossil fuels in the ground,” writes George Monbiot in the Guardian.

Suggested Tweet: #Coal companies walk away from mine rehabilitation, leaving public to carry costs @GeorgeMonbiot http://bit.ly/1zlDxCw #UK

How renewables are pushing coal and gas out of European energy markets

“In a new analysis, the energy market team at UBS notes that the pace of closures in the coal and gas sector in Europe is accelerating – even as the growth in renewables steadies and, in some countries, slows. According to their data, some 70GW of coal and gas-fired generation shut-downs have occurred in the last five years, and the pace is increasing,” writes Giles Parkinson in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: How #renewables are pushing #coal and gas out of European energy markets @GilesParkinson @renew_economy http://bit.ly/1DUbaHd


Indian fishermen sue IFC over Mundra power station

Legal action has been launched in a US district court against the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for damage caused as a result of its funding of the 4150 megawatt (MW) Tata Mundra power station in India. The case is being brought by three fishermen, a farmer, a fisherman’s group and a local government organisation. They are seeking damages and the enforcement of IFC’s loan conditions. Tata Power, which owns the plant, is under increasing financial pressure due to losses on the project. (EarthRights International, Livemint)

top news

Reliance Power scraps Indian ‘ultra-mega’ plant: Reliance Power has scrapped its planned 4000 MW Tilaiya power station and dedicated coal mine in Jharkhand. While Reliance sought to blame the collapse of the ‘ultra mega’ power project on the failure of the government to obtain land for the mine and power project, the company has faced strong landowner opposition to the project and had sought to gain approval for a higher tariff under its power purchase agreement. (Reliance Power, CoalSwarm)

Dutch development bank retreats from financing coal: The Dutch development bank, FMO, has stated that it “will not directly finance any projects on coal-based power generation, and/or coal mining.” The bank believes “there is no adequate mitigation for the main negative impacts” of thermal coal mining and that “alternative energy sources are available”, including for baseload power. Unlike other banks’ policies, FMO’s position includes no exceptions to the ban on thermal coal financing, and includes mining as well as plants. However, it does not apply to metallurgical coal used for steel. (FMO)

Residents protest Colombia coal railway works: Residents have blocked moves by the railway company, Fenoco, to build noise barriers in the hope of persuading a regional tribunal to overturn a ban on night-time coal trains. In January the constitutional court decided that to protect the amenity of the residents of Bosconia community, coal trains would be banned from operating between 10:30pm and 4:30am. Fenoco only told residents of its plan for the noise barriers the day before commencing construction. (Reuters, Reuters)
Thousands form human chain around German lignite mines: Over 6000 people formed a human chain from the Garzweiler coal mine through to the now deserted village of Borschemich, which was bought by RWE to allow the mine to expand. While polling indicates strong public support in Germany for a coal power phase-out, unions and some utilities are opposing a plan to increase the carbon tax on the most polluting coal plants. (350.org, Reuters)

Adani flounders in the witness box over Galilee Basin mine claims: Under cross-examination in a legal challenge to the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, the financial controller of Adani Mining, Rajesh Gupta, declined to comment in detail on the fall of the global coal price; or the impact of a corporate restructuring on the US$2 billion company’s ability to fund a US$10 billion project. In evidence, the Australia Institute argued that Adani had massively overstated the employment benefits of the project. (Sydney Morning Herald,  Australia Institute)

Japan’s draft energy plan goes for nukes and coal: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has released a draft energy plan for the period to 2030 which centres on restarting nuclear plants and a major ongoing role for coal plants, even though many aging plants are due for retirement. The plan proposes to cap the combined output of solar and wind at nine per cent. Environmentalists have argued that far more ambitious expansion of wind and solar would enable greater greenhouse gas emissions cuts without restarting unpopular nuclear plants or expanding coal power. (Nikkei Asian Review, World Resources Institute)

“Cleaner coal, there’s no such thing,”

Eldar Saetre, CEO of Norwegian oil company Statoil told a global energy conference.


Australia: New Victorian government reopens inquiry into 45-day Hazelwood coal mine fire.

Bangladesh: Barge sinks in Bay of Bengal with 850 tonnes of coal aboard; crew rescued.

France: GDF Suez, a major utility with a global reach, trades in old name for new: Engie.
Germany: Coal pollution levy stalls Vattenfall’s sale of 9000 MW of lignite plants.

South Korea: Two power companies join pilot program to import Russian coal through North Korea.

US: National Parks Service wants less pollution from Utah coal plants to improve views in five National Parks.

“Ever had a house guest who has outstayed their welcome? It could be a family member, old school friend or acquaintance who has taken up residence in your house for longer than expected. They said they would stay only for a few days, then a week goes by and you begin to get impatient and frustrated. Politeness and your good manners keep you from broaching the subject of their stay. What to do? The analogy of the unwelcome house guest fits with the current market for imported thermal coal in China,”

writes Michael Cooper in Platts, a mining trade publication.

companies + markets

China coal companies plan to lift exports: Two of China’s largest coal mining companies – Datong Coal Mining Group and Shenhua – are planning to revive their coal export business to offset declining domestic sales. Shenhua Group Vice-General Manager, Wang Xiaolin, told the recent Coaltrans China conference that the company’s exports were “due to increase” and that it is “trying to build our overseas customer base.” (Platts)

Peabody posts big quarterly loss: Peabody Energy, the largest privately-owned pure coal company, has reported a loss of US$177 million in the first quarter of 2015. The company, noting that US coal power generation fell by 14 per cent in the first quarter, forecast a decline in US thermal coal demand of between 73 and 91 million tonnes in 2015. It also stated that the “seaborne thermal coal markets remain challenged.” In the wake of the worse than expected results, Peabody has flagged that it is considering asset sales in the US and Australia. (Peabody Energy, IEEFA)

Indonesia’s coal output set to fall further: The chairman of the Indonesian Coal Mining Association, Pandu Sjahrir, has flagged that Indonesian coal production could fall by 24 per cent this year due to the slump in coal prices, the fall in Chinese demand, and the need to preserve cash reserves. The mining industry is pinning its future on a recently-announced government target of 35,000 MW of new electricity generation capacity by 2019, the lion’s share of which would be new coal plants. (Reuters)
Indian panel wants new mine costs ignored when coal prices set: An Indian parliamentary committee wants government-owned coal companies to exclude the costs of new coal mines when setting the price it charges for coal. Coal India had submitted to the committee that new projects needed to be funded by profits from coal sales. However, the Standing Committee on Coal and Steel argued that the costs of building new projects should be excluded in order to “secure the interest of common consumer.” (Economic Times)

Indian power utility to cut imports: The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), India’s largest power generator with over 44,000 MW of capacity, will not import coal in the current quarter as its stockpiles are full. NTPC says that as it will be shortly commissioning its own mines and Coal India is increasing production, the company planned to cut imports to zero by 2020. NTPC imported about 16 million tonnes of coal in 2013-14. (Economic Times, Times of India)

Study urges curbs on Chinese banks’ coal lending: A study by the Financial Research Institute of the People's Bank of China and the NGO Greenovation Hub, has argued that regulators should pressure financial institutions which continue to finance the Chinese coal sector. The report found that lending to the coal sector doubled in 2013 but that cutting it by 60 per cent would help the government achieve its target of capping coal consumption. (Reuters)

“It’s impossible for the coal industry to go back to the previous good days,”

said Zhang Haiying a former coal mine owner from Shaanxi province.


Communities at risk from mountaintop mining, Appalachian Voices, April 2015.

This mapping tool allows you to see all the communities in Central Appalachia at risk from mountaintop mining and access brief data on the population trends, comparison to national health data and proximity to mines.

Dirty Coal: Breaking the Myth About Japanese-Funded Coal Plants, Kiko Network, JACSES, Friends of the Earth Japan, CoalSwarm, Friends of the Earth US, Sierra Club, April 2015. (Pdf)

This report provides a detailed critique of the claims made by the Japanese Government about the financing of coal plants by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, showing that Japanese-funded coal plants are actually less efficient than the global average.

Subsidising Big Coal: Handouts to Australia’s biggest coal mining companies through the Fuel Tax Credits Scheme, Australian Conservation Foundation, April 2015. (Pdf)

This report estimates that five companies – Glencore Xstrata, BHP Billiton, Peabody, Rio Tinto and Anglo American – receive about US$293 million a year from Australian taxpayers to subsidise the diesel used in their coal-mining operations.

Anti-coal chain Garzweiler 2015: 6000 people stop coal digger, Campact, April 2015. (YouTube video)

This 2-minute video (in German) shows the protest of over 6000 people against the proposed expansion of the Garzweiler lignite mine in Germany and in support of a coal phase-out.

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 CoalWire is archived at www.coalwire.org

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