March 21, 2014
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Coal exports are dragging down Indonesia's economy

“From restricting the country's market growth and capital investment, to diminishing livelihoods, to exacerbating poverty, coal is having disastrous effects on an otherwise diversified and thriving economy. So while U.S. coal exporters eagerly eye the Pacific Northwest, it's worth knowing what's happening to the economy of the world's largest thermal coal exporter. The fact is an over-reliance on coal, contrary to industry rhetoric, is actually weighing down the rapidly developing Indonesian economy,” writes the Sierra Club’s Justin Guay.

Suggested Tweet: #Coal Exports Are Dragging Down #Indonesia's Economy  @Guay_JG

top news

Indonesian coal corruption case progresses: The South Kalimantan Prosecutors Office is proceeding with bribery charges against the mayor of Banjarmasin, the provincial capital, and a former local government official. It is alleged that the mayor, who is a shareholder in coal company PT Binuang Jaya Mulia, offered a US$264,000 bribe to the official in an attempt to have coal-bearing land zoned as being within an adjoining local government district. (Jakarta Post)
Conflict of interest claims against new Chilean environmental regulator: Cristián Franz, the new head of Chilean Government environmental regulator, is embroiled in controversy over his business interests.  Franz is a 40 per cent owner of Grupo Alianza, an environmental consultancy which has mining and energy clients including GDF Suez and Rio Tinto. One of Franz’s first tasks will be reviewing Endesa Chile’s coal-fired Bocamina II plant which a court directed be suspended from operation. (Santiago Times, GrupoAlianza)
Australian coal companies use of “offsets” challenged: Whitehaven Coal, which is pressing ahead with the controversial Maules Creek mine, has been challenged by a leading botanist over inaccurate mapping of proposed “offsets” – areas of equivalent quality set aside by companies as compensation for damage done by new mines. The Australian Senate has launched an inquiry into the use of offsets and is due to report by mid-June. (ABC Radio National)
GDF Suez’s burning Australian mine lacks clear rehabilitation deadlines: Documents reveal that the plan for the Hazelwood brown coal mine contained no strict deadlines for rehabilitation. The 2009 plan by previous owner, International Power, stated that it did not “strictly comply” with a relevant fire policy because an adjoining coal operation refused to fund “a compliant fire service”. A fire has been burning in the mine since February 9. (The Age)
Emails reveal cosy relationship with Duke Energy: Emails obtained by theSouthern Environmental Law Center have revealed close co-operation between lawyers for Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources when negotiating how to handle contamination from the company’s leaking coal ash dams. Some of the emails revealed the state regulator canvassing proposals allowing Duke Energy to avoid specific commitments to clean up its coal ash dams. (

“… To be quite frank many people will change their opinions on brown coal as a result of this incident [the six-week old Hazelwood mine fire] - while the previous [landslide] incidents have been inconvenient - when you are dealing with an incident that puts the health of the community in jeopardy it brings about a whole new meaning,”

said Russell Northe, the newly-appointed Minister for Energy and Resources in the conservative Victorian Government.


Bangladesh: German envoy concerned about proposed Rampal plant near World Heritage Area.

Egypt: Opposition from tourism groups and environmentalists to coal imports for cement plants.

India: Deadline for Odisha and Tamil Nadu ‘ultra-mega’ power projects bid pushed back to June.
Indonesia: Complaint filed over mining permits in East Kalimantan conservation park.

Jamaica: US government rules out support for coal plant; backs renewables.

US: Opposition to granting new Oregon public land permits for Gateway Pacific export terminal.


“The coal business in the United States has kind of died … so we’re out of the coal business now,”

said Bill Koch, the founder and Chief Executive Officer ofOxbow Carbon, the brother of oil billionaires and conservative philanthropists Charles and David Koch.

companies + markets

Indian solar costs close in on coal: Utility scale solar power costs in India have fallen so fast that solar electricity is now estimated to be just 14 per cent more expensive than coal or gas. “Wind power has already achieved grid parity and solar is quite close,” said Sanjay Chakrabarti, a partner at Ernst & Young. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is projecting ‘grid parity’ for solar will be reached in 2017. (Economic Times)
Chinese Government reconsiders ban on low-grade coal: Coal traders have reported that a ban on the importation of low-grade coal is being reconsidered again and could be implemented within months. Chinese coal producers are supporting restrictions on low calorific value, high sulphur and high ash coal imports while lobbying for higher thresholds for domestic coal. A ban on coal with more than 20 per cent ash content would affect Australian and South African exporters. (Platts)
Mechel juggles loans to avoid bankruptcy: Alfa Bank, a privately-owned Russian bank, is demanding that Russia’s largest metallurgical coal company, Mechel, repay US$150 million after breaching loan covenants. Despite securing up to US$2.5 billion in loans from the state development bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB), doubts remain about the viability of Mechel, which has US$9.4 billion in debt. Part of the VEB loan is slated to repay the Alfa Bank loan. (Reuters, Businessweek)
Adani contemplates divestment: The Adani group is seeking to sell a half of its stake in the US$5 billion Carmichael mine to the China Rail Corporation. Adani is seeking to sell its stake in order to finance the US$3.5 billion needed to construct an approximately 500-kilometre-long railway and expand the Abbot Point coal terminal. (Business Standard)

"This year we have set a 3.9 per cent reduction target for cutting our energy intensity. That comes on top of the 3.7 per cent reduction we achieved last year. This is equivalent to cutting coal burning by 220 million tons. When it comes to fighting pollution, we need tough measures in all areas. The government will severely punish those who create pollution through illegal activities, and hold accountable the regulators who fail to perform their duties,”

said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.


"The Abbot Point gamble", Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, March 2014.
This documentary explores in detail the environmental and economic risks of the proposed massive expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park World Heritage Area. The radio report is available as a podcast or a transcript is available.
6 Reasons to NOT Export Coal, Greenpeace video
Suggested tweet: Hey @GovKitz! We have 6 MORE reasons for you to oppose #coalexport in #PNW @GreenpeacePNW  via @greenpeaceusa

take action

Petition to push World Bank to respond to Tata Mundra findings

Aminaben, a fisherwoman affected by the Tata Mundra coal plant, is seeking signatures on a petition pressing the President of the World Bank, Dr Jim Kim, to recognise policy violations in the Tata Mundra plant. The petition also seeks the development of a remedial action plan and the withdrawal of IFC funding of the project. The petition is here.

Stop the new lignite plant in Ptolemaida, Greece.

The Greek Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the Greek Government are proposing to build the 660MW lignite-fired Ptolemaida V plant with funding from German KfW Banking Group. WWF is seeking 10,000 signatures on a petition against the plant. Sign here.

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

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