December 19, 2013


Ex-Im Bank retreats from coal, others remain

“The Board of the US Export-Import Bank (US Ex-Im) has just voted to shift its funding out of coal power plants. These new guidelines are very important as they close off funding from a major investor in coal projects and they add to the growing list of public finance institutions that will stop using public funding to support overseas coal power plants. Germany, Japan, the Asian Development Bank, and a couple of other public financing institutions are now the last holdouts,” writes Jake Schmidt of the Natural Resources Defense Council in an analysis of the changes to the Ex-Im Bank policy.

Suggested tweet: Another US Public Funding Institution Pulls Back on Coal Power Plants New Ex-Im Bank Guidelines Adopted @jschmidtnrdc


Old King Coal was a grumpy old soul

HSBC, one of the world’s biggest banks and the biggest UK funder of coal projects, was the target of a pre-Christmas protest by 20 ‘climate justice Santas’. Over 8,000 people asked the World Development Movement to deliver a piece of coal on their behalf – a traditional ‘reward’ for the badly behaved – in protest at the company’s lending practices. Father Christmas on a dumper truck delivered the coal while Santa’s helpers sang Christmas carols including Old King Coal and Deck the Halls with Dirty Money. HSBC shut its doors on the protesters. (World Development Movement)

Blockade at proposed Australian mine

Over one hundred people blocked the entrances to the site of Whitehaven Coal’s proposed Maules Creek coal project in north-west NSW. The proposed 13 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) mine is opposed by local farmers and environmentalists. In his first ever protest, 75-year-old Raymond McLaren chained himself to a car at one of the entrances to the proposed mine site. McLaren said that he opposed the mine even though his engineering firm in a nearby town builds equipment for the mining sector. “The state forest out here is too precious to sacrifice - there's not much of it left,” he said. (Newcastle Herald, Lock the Gate Alliance)

top news

Court stalls Philippines coal plant: A regional environmental judge has granted a 72-hour injunction preventing the construction of a coal-fired plant after residents of Palawan argued that the local government did not undertake proper public consultation. They didn't even submit a proposal to us. They didn't even give us the exact location of the power plant. How can we evaluate you when you are not giving us papers?” asked Lita Sopsop, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the Western Philippines University. (
Planning agency backs Australian horse studs over coal mine: The New South Wales government’s Planning Assessment Commission has recommended against approval of the 7 mtpa expansion of Anglo American’s Drayton coal mine. The commission found that the proposed expansion would result in “real risks” to the viability of nearby horse studs, but left open the option of a smaller redesigned mine. (Planning Assessment Commission, ABC News)
Anti-corruption agency asked to investigate Rio Tinto mine OK: The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption has been asked to investigate the NSW Department of Planning decision to approve the expansion of the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine in the Hunter Valley. The Department recommended the mine be approved two business days after the public comment period closed and only a day after Rio Tinto lodged a response to over 1000 public submissions. (Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Morning Herald)

Correction: Last week CW stated that the retirement of 158 out of 523 US coal plants represented 30% of the capacity of the coal-fired fleet. The retirements represent 30% of the number of plants and approximately 20% of the installed capacity.


Australia: NSW anti-corruption agency recommends tainted coal licences be cancelled.

Australia: Outrage over tiny fine against Rio Tinto over air pollution from mine blast.

Australia: Coal ship owner fined US$1.1 million over 72,000 litre oil spill in Newcastle port.

Burma: Villagers opposing coal mine state they were threatened by the military.
Canada: British Columbia freezes coal licences over 255,000 hectare First Nation area.

India: GDF–Suez buys 74% stake in 1,000 megawatt Andhra Pradesh project.

Poland: Government-owned power utility buys out loss-making public coal miner.

Scotland: Court rules liquidators of coal companies can’t abandon environmental obligations.

“… It is important to emphasise that coal in its current form is simply unsustainable … Coal-fired heat and power generation is the biggest single source of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from fuel combustion today. More than three-fifths of the rise in global CO2 emissions since 2000 is due to the burning of coal to produce electricity and heat. And we should not overlook the health problems tied to local pollution produced by coal combustion,”

said Maria van der Hoeven, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, launching the Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2013.

companies + markets

Doubt over US export terminal plans: Industry analysts are doubtful that the global coal market will support new coal export terminals on the US West Coast, at least in the short term. “The difficulty if you’re looking at a 25-million to 30-million ton project, who are you going to sign those contracts with? … To get that kind of volume upside, you need participation from Chinese buyers. It’s going to be quite hard to get those kinds of agreements set up,” Jonny Sultoon, a coal markets analyst for Wood Mackenzie. (The Oregonian)
Norwegian government considers coal divestment: The Norwegian Conservative Party, which leads a coalition government, is considering a proposal by the opposition Labour Party for a ban on investments in coal by the sovereign wealth fund, currently one of the world’s largest investors in coal companies.  “If we decide to exclude coal from the portfolio, it’s because coal – at least coal without carbon capture and storage – is incompatible with our global climate goals,” said Nikolai Astrup, the energy and environment spokesman for the Conservative Party. (Bloomberg)
Indian venture continues search for coking coal assets: International Coal Ventures Ltd, a joint venture of government-owned companies including the National Thermal Power Corporation and the Steel Authority of India, is investigating the purchase of four to five unnamed coking coal mines in Australia, Mozambique and the US. India currently imports approximately 35 mtpa of coking coal with estimates that this could increase to 125 mtpa. (Business Standard, Business Standard)
Proposed Colombian coal railway scrapped: A Brazilian metals company, Votorantim Metais Participacoes Ltda, has withdrawn its proposal to build the US$1.8 billion Carare railway to the Carribbean coast. The proposed railway was intended to allow the expansion of the metallurgical coal mines in central Colombia, which currently rely on truck transport. (Bloomberg)


“Consensus [of market analysts] remains bearish on the outlook for the coal industry and thinks the recent uptick in coal prices is driven by seasonal demand. In 2Q14 [second quarter 2014], consensus expects coal prices to re-test the low levels seen in 3Q13 [third quarter 2013] given structural oversupply in the system,”

write Morgan Stanley analysts on coal supply in the Asia-Pacific region in a December 6 briefing note titled 2014: The Bid Debates – Asia/Pacific (not available online).


Move Beyond Coal: The Global Movement in 2013, Sierra Club, December 2013. (Pdf)
This report provides an overview of some of the major successes in the global anti-coal movement, with case studies from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Germany, India, Indonesia and the US.
Stranded Down Under? Environment-related factors changing China’s demand for coal and what this means for Australian coal assets, University of Oxford’s Stranded Assets Programme, December 2013. (Pdf)
This report examines in detail the rapidly evolving changes to Chinese environmental policy and the impact on demand for coal and on the Australian coal export industry in particular.
Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2013, International Energy Agency, December 2013.

This report provides a detailed assessment of possible key developments in the coal industry. The Executive Summary is available here. The full report is for sale for €80 from the IEA bookshop. Discounts are available for non-profit groups and those in low and middle income countries.

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