November 12, 2015
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editor's note

Failure is perhaps the word to best describe the coal industry’s last week: the failure of Peabody Energy to warn investors about the financial risks of action on climate change, the failure of the Kemper and Boundary Dam CCS projects to live up to their owners’ claims and the failure of the International Energy Agency to grasp the speed and magnitude of the changes to the global coal market.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor


2015: The year global coal consumption fell off a cliff

In the first half of 2015 global coal consumption fell by between 90 and 180 million tonnes — the largest drop on record — writes Zachary Davies Boren and Lauri Myllyvirta at Greenpeace’s EnergyDesk.

Tweet: 2015: The year global #coal consumption fell off a cliff @zdboren @laurimyllyvirta 

China’s coal bubble: building 155 new plants while many lay idle

China’s central and provincial governments have permitted 155 plants this year, even though there is already massive coal overcapacity writes Zachary Davies Boren in Greenpeace’s EnergyDesk.

Tweet: #China’s #coal bubble: building 155 new plants while others lay idle @zdboren @laurimyllyvirta

The fallout from SaskPower’s Boundary Dam CCS debacle

The controversy over SaskPower’s troubled Boundary Dam CCS project will affect the coal industry’s PR pitch at the Paris climate conference in December, writes Bob Burton in Endcoal.

Tweet: The fallout from #SaskPower’s Boundary Dam #CCS debacle @bobburtonoz #coal

The good, the bad and the ugly of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook on coal

The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2015 is out, but its reliance on 2013 data renders its analysis of what is happening with coal out of date writes Bob Burton in EndCoal.

Tweet: The good the bad and the ugly of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook on #coal #weo2015 @bobburtonoz


Indian villagers defeat Sompeta power plant

After an eight-year-long campaign – including an almost six-year-long relay hunger strike - a coalition of fisherfolk, villagers and environmentalists has defeated the proposed 2640 megawatt coal plant at Sompeta in Andhra Pradesh. In July 2010, when over 20,000 people marched in protest against the Nagarjuna Construction Company’s construction activities in the wetlands, police opened fire on the marchers, killing three and seriously injuring five others. In late August the State Government cancelled the land allocation for the power station and directed that the company only use it for agricultural projects. At a rally to celebrate the villagers’ campaign, the 2166 day-long hunger strike came to an end.  (The News Minute, The Hindu)

Tweet: After a 2166 day long relay hunger strike, villagers protesting #coal plant in #india can claim victory

top news

Indian Government moves to shut Greenpeace down: The Indian Department of Home Affairs has cancelled Greenpeace India’s non-profit registration and directed the organisation to pass a resolution dissolving itself. The cancellation is the latest move by the Indian Government against Greenpeace, which has included banning one of its staff travelling to the UK, freezing its bank accounts and blocking the receipt of international funds. Greenpeace has rejected the government’s claims and has announced it will appeal against the ruling. (Greenpeace India)

Peabody Energy forced to improve climate disclosures: The largest US coal producer, Peabody Energy, has agreed to include more detailed disclosure of the risks of lower coal demand due to moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions in its next filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. An investigation by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman found the company inadequately disclosed financial risks associated with climate change. (New York Times, IEEFA)

BHP Billiton to audit coal dams after Brazil disaster: In the wake of the devastating collapse of two tailings dams at an iron ore mine it half owns, BHP Billiton has announced it will audit all tailings dams at its coal, copper and iron ore mines. The tailings dam disaster at the Samarco mine has resulted in the death of six people, with 21 people missing and significant damage to seven towns. Hundreds are homeless. BHP Billiton has interests in 16 coal mines in Indonesia, Colombia, Australia and the US. (Sydney Morning Herald)
OECD standoff over coal financing phase-out: South Korea and Australia are attempting to block a US-Japan proposal to wind back financing of coal plants at next week’s OECD meeting. The US-Japan proposal excludes financing for most of the lowest efficiency ‘subcritical’ plants, except small plants in the poorest countries. The proposal would end financing of all supercritical plants over 500 MW and restrict loans to a term of 12 years for all ultra-supercritical plants. Australia wants supercritical plants to be allowed to be financed, in order to shore up future markets for Australian coal. (Reuters, ClimateWire)

New legal challenge against Adani’s Carmichael mine: The Australian Conservation Foundation has launched a legal challenge to the re-approval by the Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin. The group is seeking a judicial review of Hunt’s decision on four grounds, including over whether he should have considered the impact of climate change from burning Carmichael coal on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. A hearing is not expected until early 2016. (Sydney Morning Herald, Environmental Defenders Office Queensland)

“The so-called global coal boom in the first decade of the 21st century was a mirage … There was a Chinese coal boom, but that disguised what was happening in the rest of the world,”

said Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace’s Senior Global Coal campaigner.


Australia: Public support for coal fell 9 per cent in three months of industry PR blitz.

Global: Shell argues CCS not viable without carbon price of US$60-80 per tonne.

Chile: Solar and wind power bidders beat coal power in electricity auction.
Colombia: Peak coal industry group estimates 2016 fall in coal exports.

Taiwan: Coalition wants end to expansion plan for Taiwan Semiconductor plant and power station.

Vietnam: Vinacomin signs MOU with China Development Bank for Vinh Tan 3 and other plants.

companies + markets

CCS plant prompts Mississippi Power downgrade: Moody’s has further downgraded the financial rating of Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, after a further US$110 million cost increase in the cost of the Kemper Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plant. Moody’s noted that there were additional doubts about the ability of the company to fully recover costs on the US$6.3 billion plant due to the election of two new members of the Mississippi Public Service Commission which regulates power prices. Moody’s also noted “there are limits” to Southern Company’s financial support for its subsidiary and the Kemper plant. (Moody’s)

Eskom adviser argues against increasing South African exports: Xavier Prevost from XMP Consulting, a coal consultant to Eskom, has argued South African exporters would be better off supplying coal to the domestic market than pursuing loss-making exports. “The more we export, the more the price drops,” he said. Prevost argues coal export prices are not expected to improve, making it more attractive for exporters to supply high-grade coal to Eskom and independent power producers. (Mining Weekly)
Indian coal imports keep falling: For the fourth month in a row Indian coal imports have fallen compared to the same period last year. New trade ministry data indicates that for the April-to-October period coal imports have fallen by 4.6 per cent compared to the same period last year. The shift is due to a range of factors including increasing domestic production and increasing diversification of Indian electricity towards renewables. (Reuters, IEEFA)

Engie helps plan Tanzanian power plant: Tractebel Engineering, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the French utility Engie, has entered into an agreement with Kibo Mining to undertake a feasibility study on the proposed 250-300 megawatt (MW) Mbeya mine-mouth power station. Engie recently announced that it would no longer build coal plants. Standard Bank is acting as financial adviser to the company. Kibo Mining, a small cash-strapped company listed on the stock exchanges in the UK and South Africa, is also seeking to separately assess the feasibility of developing the Mbeya coal project. (Mining Weekly, Kibo Mining)


Coal’s Terminal Decline, Greenpeace International, November 2015.

This 12-page report is an essential guide to understanding the global transformation away from coal.

Tweet: #Coal’s terminal decline by @laurimyllyvirta is essential reading

The True Coast of Coal, Scenario Journal, Spring 2015.

A photo essay by J Henry Fair including stunning pictures of mountaintop mines in the US and the Garzweiller mine in Germany.

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