January 23, 2014
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Big Coal’s annus horribilis

“2013 was a bad, bad year for Big Coal. If the coal industry’s PR dream is for a stream of exuberant articles selling the storyline that coal is clean, cheap and desirable, then 2013 delivered the opposite. During 2013 the coal industry became mired in debates over air and water pollution, escalating health costs, corruption scandals, damage to farmlands, water supplies and the global climate,” writes Bob Burton.

Suggested Tweet: 2013 was a bad, bad year for #BigCoal. See 'Big Coal’s annus horribilis' http://t.co/hVU0wRPftx #coalisover

Chinese coal lobby’s push for coal-to-gas boom

“The Chinese coal industry has a plan to solve the nation’s air pollution crisis - consume more coal. Last week the Chinese chief energy planning agency, the National Energy Administration (NEA) concluded its annual work session with a plan for a whopping 50 billion m³ coal-to-gas (CTG) output target for 2020 … Throughout 2013, the Chinese Government gave an unprecedented set of green lights to 15 CTG applications. To put that in context, a grand total of four approvals existed before last year,” write Li Shuo from Greenpeace East Asia and Justin Guay from the Sierra Club.

Suggested Tweet: #China's #coal to #gas plans: Old wine, new bottles http://huff.to/1dl5DLX


Drummond forced to shut down coal port in Colombia

When in January 2013 Drummond, a US-headquartered coal company, dumped more than 1700 tonnes of coal into the ocean from a barge at risk of sinking, lawyer Alejandro Arias photographed the operation. His photos were widely used on the front pages of major Colombian newspapers and sparked public outrage. When Drummond ignored a January 1, 2014 deadline – set seven years earlier – requiring the use of a direct ship-loading conveyor system to minimise pollution, Arias publicised the breach through both social and mainstream media. With elections looming, the Government insisted Drummond shut down its export operation until the new loading system was completed. (Bloomberg, globalpost)

top news

Corrupt Australian coal licences cancelled: The New South Wales Government has announced that it will introduce legislation to cancel three coal exploration licences which the Independent Commission Against Corruption stated were “tainted by corruption”. While the Government has signalled that no compensation will be paid to the affected companies, it has also foreshadowed that the areas may be re-allocated by a tender process. (NSW Government, Sydney Morning Herald)

Slovenian government presses on despite doubling of plant costs: Despite the cost of the partly-built Sostanj coal-fired power station doubling to almost US$2 billion, the Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek has refused to cancel the project. Construction of the project, which commenced in 2012, was made possible with $US880 million in loans from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. (Reuters)

Chilean court overturns injunction preventing Endesa Chile coal plant: In a split ruling Chile’s Supreme Court overturned an Appeals Court decision preventing the construction of Endesa Chile’s proposed 740 megawatt (MW) Punta Alcalde power project. Local fisherman and communities oppose the US$1.4 billion project due to increased air pollution and the likely impact on local fisheries. The local group, SOS Huasco, is calling on Chile’s President, to stop the project. (The Santiago Times)
US coal lobby courts journalists: The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a lobby group for major US coal and power companies, is courting influence with journalists and policy makers by sponsoring energy forums hosted by publishers of online news websites. Last week the conservative-inclined Real Clear Politics hosted an ACCCE-sponsored seminar while another, in July last year, was held under the aegis of the mainstream news site, Politico. (Huffington Post)

Indian Government acknowledges some projects given inside running: The Federal Government told the Supreme Court of India that 11 companies had been granted coal blocks without having been recommended by either the relevant state government or the Ministry of Power, as the formal process required. The 11 companies included Tata Power, GVK Power and the Lanco Group. (The Times of India)

New minister plans speedy approval for Indian projects: The new Minister for Environment and Forests, M Veerappa Moily, has promised that in the next 20 days he will decide on 500 applications for projects. Many are coal-related projects. (Times of India)

“Recuperating the beaches of Santa Marta could end up costing us much more than the losses that will be incurred by suspending coal exports … What we would earn through coal taxes and royalties will not help in the future because we are going to have to spend 200 per cent of that [on clean-up operations],”

said Colombia’s Environment Minister Luz Helena Sarmiento on the decision to suspend Drummond’s coal exports while it completes a new coal loader.


Australia: Half of 1000MW NSW coal plant shuts, remainder on standby from April.

Australia: Queensland coal train spontaneously combusts, twice.

Canada: US$210 million plan to increase capacity of Vancouver terminal by 3 mtpa.
Japan: Fire forces Chubu Electric Power to shut 700MW unit at Hekinan power plant.

UK: Anti-coal protest convictions overturned due to undisclosed role of undercover police.

"It is fair to say that the long-run future of coal is now ‘in play’ in commodity and equity research markets. This is not to say that a new consensus has emerged, and we would describe the debate as at an embryonic stage,”

write HSBC analysts in a review of the prospects for coal.

companies + markets

HSBC warns US$20 billion of coal assets at risk: In an update of an earlier assessment, HSBC has estimated that if coal burning is constrained in order to meet the agreed global warming target of a two degrees increase then up to US$20 billion could be wiped from the stock value of BHP-Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and Anglo American. HSBC estimate that falling coal demand could erode profit margins by as much as two-thirds, rendering many mines uneconomic. (RenewEconomy)

Indian consortium looks to buy Polish coal deposit: International Coal Ventures, founded as a consortium of Indian Government-owned companies to buy overseas coal deposits, is reported as being close to finalising the purchase of a 500-million-tonne metallurgical coal deposit in Poland. The deal, the consortium’s first, is estimated to be worth approximate $US370 million. (Economic Times)
South African coal terminal expansion plans: The Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) consortium have flagged plans to expand the current terminal by 17 mtpa to 100 mtpa. RBCT, which is owned by ten coal companies, wants the freight logistics company Transnet and the South African Government involved in the project. In late 2013, Transnet flagged its intent to build a new coal export terminal at Richards Bay. (Mining Weekly)

“Coal is not going to be economically attractive for electricity generation [in the future], and economics does matter,”

said Alberta’s Associate Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Donna Kennedy-Glans.


WWF India, The Energy Report - India: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, December 2013.

This study compares the cost and possibility of a 100% renewable energy scenario for India with one reliant on fossil fuels.

Aussie coal boom busts global climate, The Australia Institute, December 2013.

A 90-second animation which illustrates the magnitude of Australia’s existing and proposed coal exports.

take action

Which major cities in the C40 network host coal plants?

C40 Cities, a network of major cities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will be holding a Mayors’ Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa from 4-6 February 2014. If your city is on this list and has a coal plant within it, please contact Trusha Reddy with details of the power station and its impacts. Earthlife Africa Johannesburg is planning on writing a letter to all the Mayors of C40 Cities with coal plants urging them to commit to shutting them down.

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

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