July 2, 2015


A 20-year old Aboriginal woman takes her message to the banks

“Deep breath, I tell myself, whizzing up in the lift to meet with representatives of the world’s biggest investment banks. By the time I step out and shake hands I’ve calmed my nerves and pulled myself together. It’s game time, and I’ve been sent here to get results. As a 20-year-old Aboriginal woman, and spokesperson for my people, the Wangan and Jangalingou, traditional owners of central Queensland, I know I am going to have to challenge some preconceptions. I am here to tell the banks not to fund a huge coal mine – the biggest in Australian history – that will rip the heart out of my country,” writes Murrawah Johnson in Mamamia.

Suggested Tweet: A 20-year old Aboriginal woman takes her message against #Adani #coal mine to global banks http://bit.ly/1BTu5Yf #climate

Global Coal Markets: When Does a Seasonal Trend Become a Structural Decline?

“Coal imports into China—the world’s recent former largest coal-import market—have halved in the past 18 months. How long till a seasonal bit of weakness becomes a structural trend? I think we’re past that point. But wait, there’s India, which is now the world’s largest coal import market. But didn’t the Indian energy minister recently say stockpiles of imported coal were at record highs in May? And wasn’t domestic coal production in India up a record 12 percent year-over-year, according to Coal India? And isn’t the government pushing hard to add 175 gigawatts of renewable energy through a program that has drawn recent heft from investors … These questions of course are rhetorical and none of them bode very well for seaborne coal markets,” writes Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.

Suggested Tweet: Global #coal markets: when does a seasonal trend become a structural decline? http://bit.ly/1NxDWn6 Tim Buckley @ieefa_institute #India

The ‘Australian Coal Can Save India’s Poor’ Argument Fails On Every Front

“The recently released report by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) [an Australian industry funded think tank] loudly claims that increasing coal imports from Australia to energy starved India is a worthy cause. It argues that the supply of Australian coal to India will allow at least 82 million Indian people each year to access regular and reliable source of electricity. Recent trends and evidence in India strongly refute these assertions,” writes Srinivas Krishnaswamy, the CEO of the Vasudha Foundation in New Delhi, in RenewEconomy.­­­­­­

Suggested Tweet: @renew_economy The ‘Australian #coal can save India’s poor’ argument fails on every front http://bit.ly/1ehXyA2 #auspol #climate #India

Why Are The US Government’s Energy Forecasts So Bad?

“In 2009, the federal government’s Energy Information Administration made a forecast for the next two decades: US wind power would grow modestly, reaching 44 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity in 2030, while solar power would remain scarce, inching up to 12 GW. Just six years later, US wind capacity is already up to 66 GW, and solar has shot up to 21 GW. There's now enough installed wind and solar to power 25 million American homes— more than three times what the EIA expected before President Obama took office. Oops,” writes Michael Grunwald in Politico.

Suggested Tweet: Why are the US government’s energy forecasts so bad? asks @MikeGrunwald of @EIAgov http://politi.co/1LmHQRk

“We have to leave coal in the ground,”

said Sir David King, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, during a visit to Japan.

top news

Myanmar coal plant protesters turn themselves in: On June 13 police arrested for questioning 26 opponents of a 1280 megawatt (MW) coal plant proposed by the Toyo-Thai Group to be built near the township of Ye. The arrests followed a letter of complaint to police from supporters of the project. As news of the arrests spread, a convoy of 350 project opponents went to the police station; with many volunteering to also be arrested for questioning. In early May about 6000 residents attended a rally opposing the proposed plant. (Burma News International)

Supreme Court delivers temporary reprieve to some coal plants: A majority of the US Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency should have undertaken an earlier assessment of the costs of implementing its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. While most utilities have implemented plans to retire old plants or comply with the rules, which came into effect in April, only 22 coal plants – representing about one per cent of US electricity generation capacity, gain any benefit from the ruling. (SNL, Politico)

Netherlands court ruling leaves coal plants exposed: A Dutch court ruling that the Netherlands Government plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by only 17 per cent by 2020 is illegal will increase pressure to close coal power plants. While Delta has already announced plans to close its Borssele coal plant later this year, E.ON, RWE, Essent, Vattenfall and Engie all have coal power stations in the country. Two new coal plants in the Netherlands have been commissioned in the last year. (Guardian, NLTimes.com)
Queensland Treasury sidelined over subsidies for Adani mine: Internal Queensland Government documents have revealed that senior Queensland Treasury officials doubted the commercial viability of Adani’s proposed Galilee Basin mine. Despite their concern, the Department of State Development proceeded to negotiate a draft agreement to provide US$351 million in subsidies to support Adani’s project without consulting either Queensland Treasury or the Department of Premier and Cabinet on the details of the proposal. (Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News)

Australian Government on notice over Great Barrier Reef: UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has declined to list the Great Barrier Reef on the ‘In Danger’ list but the Australian government is on notice that it must submit a detailed review in 18 months over changes to the management of the area. The German delegate warned that the outlook for the Great Barrier Reef “remains poor” and Greenpeace warned delegates of the impact of proposed coal ports. Environmental lawyers believe that the reef already meets the technical requirements for being placed on the ‘In Danger’ list. (Sydney Morning Herald, Environmental Justice Australia)

Study finds old Eskom plants should close to save water: A report by the Water Research Commission and the University of Pretoria argues that three old water-intensive power plants - Camden, Komati and Grootvlei – should be closed following the commissioning of the Medupi and Kusile plants. The study found that the three plants, which are located in water-constrained mining fields, are unsustainably depleting local water resources. (IOL News)

“It took 41 years from the time it was enacted by Congress for the Clean Air Act to limit the amount of mercury and other poisonous substances that coal-fired power plants are allowed spew into the air. A ruling Monday from the Supreme Court, which struck those limits on something very close to a technicality, means that some parts of the country will have to wait longer. But make no mistake: Coal's slide into obsolescence will not be stopped,”

stated a Bloomberg News editorial.


Australia: NSW planning agency recommends Springvale mine expansion despite water impacts. 

China: Thermal coal imports in May down 41 per cent compared to May 2014.

Romania: Regulator orders closure of two power plants violating air pollution rules.
South Korea: Tax on coal imports jumps by between 26 per cent and 30 per cent from July 1.

UK: Closure of Hatfield Colliery, one of the UK’s last three deep mines, brought forward from 2016.

US: Ex-Kentucky state politician and mine owner convicted of bribing mine inspector.

“[It is] fair to say that there is not a lot of market support for investing in Galilee thermal coal projects at present,”

wrote Jason Wishart , the principal commercial analyst at Queensland Treasury on Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine project.

companies + markets

Peabody Energy’s share price freefall: The share price of Peabody Energy plummeted 19 per cent in a day after it informed investors that it would not meet its previous profit estimate due to lower metallurgical coal prices and the impact of flooding on its Powder River Basin mines. In recent weeks, amidst a flurry of critical reporting about the company’s financial woes, Peabody Energy have sought to downplay the financial impact on the company of a review of its ‘self-bonding’ capacity, the impact of a fall in Chinese imports and the impact the growth of renewable energy. (St Louis Post-Dispatch, IEEFA)

Moody’s downgrades Peabody Energy’s credit rating: Moody’s has downgraded Peabody Energy’s credit rating due to the continuing fall in global metallurgical coal prices, which it states appear “unlikely” to increase “over the next 18 months.” Moody’s considers that, in the absence of asset sales, Peabody Energy will run down its cash reserves in 2015 and 2016. Moody’s argues that “a significant portion” of global metallurgical coal production “remains uneconomic and further production cuts will be necessary.” (Moody’s [reg. req’d], Sydney Morning Herald)

UK coal emissions plummet: The Committee on Climate Change, an independent advisory group, state in their annual report that in 2014 UK power sector emissions fell by 18 per cent, with over half the drop due to reduced coal consumption following the closure of 1200 MW of old coal plants. Moody’s estimates that UK power demand will fall at about 325 MW a year while grid-connected solar capacity will increase, keeping power prices low. Low power prices, the ratings agency states, will lead SSE “to continue to close thermal plants, which already make little or no contribution to earnings.” (Committee on Climate Change, Moody’s)
Poland earmarks billions to prop up coal: Facing defeat by the pro-coal opposition at the general election scheduled for October, Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz has proposed a US$6.7 billion ‘Silesia 2.0’ program to support the ailing coal industry. Kopacz has proposed that industries using coal be granted tax exemptions and loans be provided to Ukraine to upgrade coal-fired power plants as a way of increasing demand for Polish coal. Kopacz proposes the plan be funded by the European Union and state and local governments. (Pentagraph.com)

French banks refuse to fund Bangladesh coal plant: Three French banks - Société Génerale, Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas – have vowed not to invest in the proposed 1320 MW Rampal power station in Bangladesh. Earlier this year the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global divested from the Indian Government-owned National Thermal Power Corporation, a joint venture partner in the project. An assessment of the proposed Rampal power plant by Banktrack found that the project did not comply with the minimum standards of the Equator Principles on project financing. (Guardian, Banktrack)

Alberta’s climate review targets coal plants: Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips has confirmed that a new advisory panel on climate change will consider regulations aimed at phasing-out coal-fired power plants in Alberta. The new government has also decided to increase the provincial carbon tax from US$12 per tonne of carbon dioxide to US$24 per tonne in 2017. “The fact of the matter is that no matter how this story ends, it’s not good for us as a coal plant owner,” said Brian Vaasjo, the CEO of Capital Power Corporation. (Financial Post)


Galilee Basin - Unburnable Coal, Climate Council, June 2015. (Pdf)

This report reviews the potential greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed Galilee Basin projects and estimates that the coal could emit more than Australia’s entire emissions each year.

Australian coal as unbankable as it is unburnable, The Tree, June 30, 2013.

This page provides a great summary of the controversy over Queensland Treasury being frozen out of reviewing Adani’s proposed Galilee Basin mine and links to media articles and other resources.
Resources and Energy Quarterly: June 2015, Australian Government Office of the Chief Economist, June 2015. (Pdf)

This quarterly bulletin includes a detailed overview of some of the key trends affecting the global export coal markets with separate chapters on thermal and metallurgical coal. (The supporting statistics files are available here in Excel format).

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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