May 29, 2014

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European banks back away from financing Abbot Point coal terminal

After a brief but intense campaign, German banking giant Deutsche Bank has ruled out funding any expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal in Queensland while UK bank HSBC said it would be “extraordinarily unlikely” that they would. Tony Brown, the President of the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association, attended the annual general meetings of Deutsche Bank and HSBC to press them to rule out any funding for Abbot Point. Ahead of the meetings, a broad coalition of groups including Campact, WWF Germany, GetUp! and Market Forces, collected 200,000 signatures on a petition opposing the project and placed a full-page advertisement in the European edition of the Financial Times. (The Australian, Market Forces)

top news

US mining lobby ads criticised as misleading:  Advertisements by the National Mining Association (NMA) claiming proposed US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon dioxide emission standards will increase power bills by 80 per cent have been dismissed as misleading. The Washington Post’s “Fact Check” found “the NMA has seized upon a high-end wholesale estimate for ‘full recapture’ carbon capture and sequestration technologies which the EPA specifically rejected — and then leveraged that factoid to make a wholly unsupported claim that the same increase would be reflected in retail prices.” (Washington Post)

Setback for Indian mega power project: After a three-year long campaign against the proposed 4000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired Niddodi Ultra-Mega Power Project in Karnataka state, the Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology, B. Ramanath Rai has ruled out compulsory land acquisition. The “land acquisition process will not be taken up without the consent of the local people,” he said. However, the state Power Minister, D. K. Shivakumar, continues to press for the project. (The Hindu, Deccan Herald)
NSW coal dust study flawed: The Hunter Community Environment Centre have dismissed a coal industry study into ways to reduce dust emissions from trains as a PR stunt. The group has identified 11 flaws in the industry’s study. “A valid study into options to minimise particle pollution from coal wagons would assess a range of options including accepted best practice and would involve independent expert oversight and review,” said George Barnes, Coal Terminal Action Group spokesman. (Newcastle Herald)
New Indian Prime Minister lobbied to approve slew of power projects: Indian government officials have prepared a list of 20 major projects – including at least eight major coal projects – for approval by the incoming government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (DNA)

UN climate head says Norway should close coal mines: The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, told a climate change symposium held in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in Norway that the local coal mines should be shut down. “The coal mining in Svalbard is very incongruous with what the island actually stands for – namely climate research,” she said.Norway has a glittering chance to show the world how this can be done in a way that is fair to the locals.” (News in
Parched Indian power stations: Projections of increased coal-fired power generation in India are likely to be frustrated by lack of water or conflict with other users. The 1,130 MW Parli power plant in Maharashtra has been shut since February 2013 due to lack of water. Water constraints also posed a risk to 6 gigawatts (GW) of coal-based generation in 2011 and approximately 1.5 GW in 2012. (The Hindu)

“In our analysis, coal-fired generation [in China] peaks by 2014, then declines through 2020. Neither an economic rebalancing nor a political shift alone is sufficient to halt China’s runaway coal demand growth. But together, they herald its end,”

write Morningstar analysts in an April 2014 report, Burned out: China’s Rebalancing Heralds the End of Coal’s Growth Story. (Not available online)


Mongolia: Parent company bails out SouthGobi Resources but doubts about viability remain.

Russia: Creditor banks ponder dumping directors of debt-laden Mechel.

Russia: Inter ROA touts 8 GW plant for power exports to China.
Turkey: 21 arrested over alleged bribes paid for tip-offs of impending inspections.

Ukraine: Corruption allegations over growing black market coal production.

United States: Farmers raise concerns about impact of proposed CCS plant.

“Quite a lot of projects that had considerable noise around them over [the] last three or four years have gone quiet. The economic reality is that it is going to be quite hard to find financing for big coal projects,”

said Harry Keynon-Slaney, the chief executive of Rio Tinto’s energy division.

companies + markets

Goldman Sachs expects global thermal growth to slow: The investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates that Chinese thermal coal imports could fall from 150 million tonnes in 2013 to 75 million tonnes in 2018. The bank estimates annual thermal demand growth globally could fall to approximately 15 million tonnes compared to average annual growth over the 2008-2012 period of 60 million tonnes a year. (Platts)
Vale presses Mozambique government for tax cuts: Faced with falling international coal prices and growing losses on its new Mozambique mines, the Brazilian company Vale is lobbying the government for tax relief. Vale’s country manager, Pedro Gutemberg, claimed Vale’s losses would have the effect of deterring other investors and that he wants taxes waived “until the situation on the market improves and they can recover their taxes.” (Independent Online)
Pakistan pledges funds for coal plant: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed that public funds be allocated to support the development of power plants at Gadani Power Park, which has attracted the interest of Chinese companies. Officials told Sharif that ground works would begin within weeks and the environmental impact study would be completed by the end of June. (Pakistan Today)
Indian power company Lanco’s financial woes deepen: Lanco Infratech, which operates five coal-fired power stations in India and a coal mine in Australia, has announced a US$389 million loss for the year to the end of March. The company’s power stations have suffered from fuel shortages and maintenance shutdowns while revenue from its West Australian coal mine fell by 65 per cent. (Livemint)
Chinese company signs deal for Russian mine: The Chinese coal company Shenhua has entered into an agreement with the Russian energy firm En+ to explore the Zashulanskoye coal deposit in eastern Siberia. A new 6 million tonnes per annum mine has been touted but the project would require a 100-kilometre long railway line and cost an estimated US$1 billion. (China Coal Resource)

“Fire is a commonplace event in an open-cut coal mine,”

said Melinda Richards, counsel assisting the inquiry into the 45 days-long fire at the Hazelwood coal mine in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. Richards said that there had been four previous fires which had started within the mine.

resources                      take action

Clearing the air: Why Australia urgently needs effective national air pollution laws, Envirojustice Australia, May 20, 2014. (Pdf)

This report documents the inadequate air pollution standards and includes an overview of the emissions from coal power stations, coal mines and unconventional gas extraction.

Enough with coal tragedies! have launched a petition calling on the Turkish government to begin a transition away from burning fossil fuels to a climate friendly energy. The petition is here.

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