July 31, 2014

Indian police try to shut down Mahan forests campaign

After midnight on July 30, Indian police entered Greenpeace’s Waidhan guesthouse near Mahan without a warrant, questioned five Greenpeace activists and arrested two. Earlier in the day police confiscated all communication equipment from the Greenpeace office as well as solar panels used to power the communications equipment. The raid is the latest move in increasing repression aimed at anti-coal activists in India, and in particular at opposition to Essar Energy’s proposed coal mine at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh.

Background on the campaign is here and here, a Greenpeace blog post detailing the raid and arrests here and a sign-on email here.

Suggested Tweets: Indian police try to muzzle protests against @Essar #Mahan #coal mine http://bit.ly/1le7IyR Protest letter http://bit.ly/1rQIHB8 #IamMahan

Coastal Indian coal plants playing havoc with water supplies

The Indian government plans for the establishment of several ‘ultra-mega’ power projects – each with a capacity of over 4000 megawatts (MW) – in coastal locations and based on imported coal assumed water supply wasn’t an issue. “The assumption that locating such plants on the coast will take care of the water problems related to coal-based power has proved quite unrealistic, and exposed it as being based on a lack of understanding and assessments of the coastal hydrology and ecology,” writes Shripad Dharmadhikary, the co-ordinator of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, a research group on water and energy issues. These plants and associated infrastructure are “playing havoc with local hydrological systems and the lives and livelihoods of communities which are closely associated with water.”

Suggested Tweet: Coastal Indian ‘ultra-mega’ #coal plants “playing havoc with local hydrological systems and the lives and livelihoods of communities” http://bit.ly/1mTyagJ


UK Council rejects proposed coal mine

Durham County Council’s planning committee rejected an application by UK Coal Surface Mines for an open cut coal mine after local community opposition. The company proposed to produce a million tonnes of coal from farmland straddling two councils. While the Gateshead Council approved the project, objections from residents over the impacts of the mine and truck traffic saw Durham’s planning committee reject it. “It’s a gorgeous part of the world and it’s fine as it is. The community don’t want it and as far as I am concerned, the only people who are going to benefit are UK Coal,” said Councillor Carl Marshall. (Northern Echo)

top news

Australian Government approves Galilee Basin mega-mine: The Australian government has approved Adani’s proposed 60 million tonne a year Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. The mine requires a new railway and the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. However, doubts remain that the company can finance the US$15.5 billion project. Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis suggested that “maybe it's a question that they don't want to have to write off the $525 million that they paid to buy the right to proceed with this project.” (Guardian, ABC Radio)

UK’s plan to subsidise capacity market approved by European Union: The European Union has approved a proposal by the British Government to establish a ‘capacity market’ to subsidise sufficient generation capacity to meet demand. The proposal has been criticised by environmental groups as it allows for subsidies for existing coal and gas plants and delays a transition away from carbon intensive power generation. Greenpeace argues that the government should instead focus on demand management, improved interconnectors with Europe and increased storage capacity. (Reuters, Greenpeace UK)

Serbia increases power imports to offset flooded mine: The flooding of the Kolubara mine is likely to cost the Serbian power industry US$660 million, according to a report by the European Union, the World Bank and the UN. Lignite from the mine is used to generate half the country’s electricity. To make up the shortfall, power has been imported from neighbouring countries. The Kolbura mine was flooded with 187 million cubic meters of water and silt in May. (Bloomberg)
Former Japanese power executive reveals donations to PMs: The former Vice-President of Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO), Chimori Naito, has revealed that between 1972 and 1989 seven Japanese Prime Ministers were paid approximately US$200,000 a year by the company. The donations were, he said, “simply one way for electric power companies to act toward public authority that had control over approval of business matters. We hoped it would work like Chinese herbal medicine and take effect after prolonged use.” (Asahi Shimbun)

Modi promotes upgrading small inefficient plants: The Indian government is proposing to encourage small old coal plants with a combined capacity of 25,000 MW to upgrade to super-critical coal plants by offering them guaranteed coal supply for any additional capacity. While unclear, it was inferred that new environmental approvals and water allocations would not be required. (Financial Express)

Public hearings on proposed EPA power plant rule: A total of 1600 people are scheduled to give testimony at public hearings this week on the proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule on limits to power plant emissions. Over 300,000 public comments have been submitted on the rule, which is proposed to be finalised early next year. Ahead of the hearings the Obama administration released a report by the Council of Economic Advisers arguing that for each decade of delay in taking action on climate change that costs would increase by 40 per cent. (Guardian, Washington Post)

“Many leaders think that the coal mines in particular will continue to suffer, with coal prices hitting an all-time low and with an over-supply of coal. This has forced some major coal mines to close down, and leaders don’t see the trend reversing anytime soon,”

stated the Mining Outlook Business Report which was based on interviews with 60 leading Australian mining executives.


Australia:  Supreme Court upholds corruption finding against four directors over coal deal.

Australia: Aboriginal rock art dubbed ‘questionable’ by company consultant is found to be authentic.

Colombia: Japan wants free trade agreement to include the development of coal projects.

Bosnia: Parliament ratifies Chinese consortium as winning bidder for 450 MW Tuzla unit.
South Africa: Total offloads coal assets – including export terminal capacity - to Exxaro Resources.

UK: US$90 million loan guarantee for coal mining equipment for Russian billionaire’s company.

US: After two weeks, Deer Run underground mine fire extinguished and pumping out water begins.

“Nobody knows what the outcome of the Maules Creek campaign will be. But when our politicians continue to break their election promises and cosy up to coal interests, our eclectic mix of citizens – men and women willing to engage in civil disobedience – are the best hope we have for the future. Imagine what you will say in 40 years’ time when you are asked if you were there,”

wrote Jonathan Moylan, an Australian activist who was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison, suspended on condition of good behaviour for two years for having distributed a bogus press release claiming that the ANZ Bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan for the Maules Creek mine in New South Wales.

companies + markets

Teck argues for more met coal cuts: The Chief Executive of Teck, Don Lindsay, said that while 20 million tonnes of production cuts of metallurgical coal have been announced, only three million tonnes had actually been withdrawn from the market with the balance due to take effect early next year. Teck is the world’s second largest exporter seaborne metallurgical coal, after BHP Billiton. “With such a huge percentage of the industry operating in a cash negative basis we do anticipate that the 10 million tonnes of further reductions that we think are needed will occur. We just can't predict the timing,” he said. (Reuters)

China’s coal industry hits tough times: The chairman of the China National Coal Association, Wang Xianzheng, has urged domestic coal producers to cut production by 10% in the second half of the year “otherwise the market could worsen further.” He also wants the government to impose restrictions on the use of imported coal with ash more than 16 per cent and sulphur above 1 per cent in coastal metropolitan areas. Xianzheng said that more than 70 per cent of Chinese coal companies were making losses. (Platts)

India coal group to buy Rio Tinto’s Mozambique mines: International Coal Ventures – a consortium of Indian government-owned steel, coal and power generators – is negotiating to buy three coal projects from Rio Tinto for US$50 million. In 2011 Rio Tinto paid US$3.7 billion for Riversdale Mining, which owned the projects. Subsequently Rio Tinto discovered that the Benga Mining project contained less metallurgical coal than expected, while the Mozambican government rejected a plan to barge coal down the Zambezi River. (RenewEconomy, CoalSwarm)
Indian distributors likely to challenge power price order: State electricity distribution companies for Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan are likely to appeal against a ruling awarding increased power prices to Tata Power and Adani Power due to the unanticipated additional costs of Indonesian coal. An appeal against the decision of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity is expected to be lodged with the Supreme Court of India this week. (Economic Times)

Japanese companies eye African power market: Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which merged their thermal power equipment businesses in 2012, see Africa as an emerging market. “Our next challenge is Africa, where energy demand is strongest,” said Hiroaki Nakanishi, Hitachi’s chief executive. Nakanishi said that GE’s merger with Alstom, which has European bases, created a rival in the African market which we “need to continue to take countermeasures” against. (Power Engineering International)

“We're still counting on coal … Our bet is that Mozambique continues to be one of those countries that keeps its coal industry open, and continues to be an important player at a world level,”

said Mozambique’s Minister for Transport, Gabriel Muthisse. Mozambique currently exports approximately 6 million tonnes a year but Muthisse said the aim was to export 80 million tonnes a year.

resources                      take action

Europe's failure to quit coal: risks for the EU low-carbon transition, Sandbag, July 2014. (Pdf)

This report outlines a number of policies which could drive a faster reduction in coal capacity in the European Union than is currently likely to occur.

Unfair Market Value: By Ignoring Exports, BLM Underprices Federal Coal, Sightline Institute, July 2014.
This report argues that by valuing the sale of coal on domestic prices but allowing it to be exported where it is worth far more, the Bureau of Land Management is selling public resources for a pittance.

Leasing Coal, Fueling Climate Change, Greenpeace, July 2014.

The report documents that billions of tonnes of coal sold from public land by the Bureau of Land Management threatens to dwarf all the other measures proposed by the Obama administration to address climate change.

Retrofitting Coal-Fired Power Plants in Middle-Income Countries: What Role for the World Bank?, The Brookings Institution, July 2014.

This report argues that the World Bank should, with some qualifications, finance the retrofitting of pollution control equipment to coal-fired plants in middle-income countries.

Tell the World Bank Directors to act on climate change

350.org and the Bank Information Center have just launched a petition calling on the World Bank Board of Directors to adopt a strong safeguard on climate change as part of the ongoing review of the Bank’s safeguard policies. The petition is here.

Suggested tweet: The @WorldBank is reviewing its policies! Tell them to adopt a strong policy on climate change & drop coal projects http://goo.gl/En4Ola

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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