July 17, 2014

top news

Indian Court directs investigation of contested community consent: The High Court for the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh has directed that the superintendent of police of Singrauli investigate whether a village resolution supporting the Mahan coal mine was forged. The resolution was used by the Ministry of Environment to approve the mine. The court directed that the police must submit a report on their investigation within seven days and inform MSS and Greenpeace India, which initiated the legal action, of the outcome within a month. (Business Standard)

Review finds major flaws in BHP Billiton’s proposed Australian mine: BHP Billiton’s preliminary environmental assessment of the proposed 260 million-tonne Caroona Coal Project in New South Wales fails to meet six key assessment criteria, according to a New South Wales government-appointed review panel. In a damning review the panel found that “the potential impacts to water resources as a result of the predicted subsidence are not well quantified” and that “the long-term impacts on aquifer and stream salinity have not been demonstrated to any significant degree.” (NSW Government Mining & Petroleum Gateway Panel, ABC News)

Indian power project endangers water bodies: An investigation into the proposed 4000 megawatt (MW) Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project in Tamil Nadu has found that the plant and ash pond sites are proposed to enclose more than 141 hecatres of water bodies. “If these are polluted, the local population, which depends on them for livelihood and drinking water needs will be severely affected,” said S. Janakarajan, Professorial Associate at the Centre for Water and Development, SOAS, University of London. The company, he said, has “completely ignored its impact on the surface water resources” when selecting the power plant site. (The Hindu)
Tanzanian government looking for joint venturers for scandal-plagued project: The Tanzanian government-owned State Mining Company is seeking a joint venture partner to fund the expansion of the Kiwira Coal Mine and build a proposed 200 MW coal plant and associated transmission line. The mine was repossessed by the government in 2009 after it was revealed that the largest shareholders in the company, which bought the company when it was privatised in 2005, were former Finance Minister Daniel Yona and close family members of former President Benjamin Mkapa. (East African Business Week, ippmedia.com)

Indian coal plants exceeding coal ash pond effluent limits: Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has told Parliament that approximately 25 coal-fired power stations are exceeding ash pond effluent limits. Amongst the offending power stations are the National Thermal Power Corporation’s Korba power station in Chhattissgarh and its Talcher power station in Odisha. (Economic Times)

“We’re hoping the contribution can be announced in the first half of next year; perhaps in the first quarter … The capping [of greenhouse gas emissions] year might be included in that statement and if there is a capping statement, I hope and believe that would be a very ambitious one,”

said Xie Zhenhua, the vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.


Australia: Mayor condemns $3000 fine as inadequate for dust emissions from BHP Billiton mine.

Colombia: Glencore must merge mines and pay higher royalty to get licence extension.

Global: World Council of Churches amends ethical guidelines to exclude fossil fuel investments.

India: 34 firms offer power plants for sale to National Thermal Power Corporation.
Russia: New coal terminal at Vostochny Port planned for commissioning late 2016.

US: Utilities turn to spot market purchases while railways’ enthusiasm for coal dims.

US: NRG and JX Nippon proceed with US$1 billion post-combustion carbon capture retrofit project.

“We believe the worst is not yet over for the thermal seaborne coal market given continued crippling oversupply and subdued demand,”

wrote Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts in a July 10 research note.

companies + markets

Indian budget measures: In its first budget the new Indian government has proposed doubling the tax on coal to US$1.66 and increasing the customs duty on imported thermal coal from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent. The 2.5 per cent duty is proposed to be extended to include metallurgical coal. The government has also proposed extending the expiry date of the 10-year tax holiday for power generators from the end of March this year to March 30, 2017. The budget also includes a range of measures to increase the use of renewable energy as well as ultra-super critical coal technology. (Economic Times, Livemint)

China benchmark price falls: In the first half of 2014 China’s coal imports grew by just 0.9 per cent, down from 13.3 per cent in the first half of 2013. Slowing demand and increasing stockpiles have pushed Chinese coal prices to their lowest level since December 2007, according to the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association. The association says that coal import volumes are unlikely to increase until September when stockpiles have been run down by power generators catering for peak summer-time demand. (Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg)

Coal India railway upgrades could take years to build: While the new Indian government stated that it would accelerate the upgrading of three key railway links to carry an additional 300 million tonnes of coal, a Coal India official says the projects could take five or more years and cost more than US$1.3 billion. “The railways have told us that a portion of the 590 km will be ready in 2016 and [the] rest of it will take five years. If the railways can meet the deadline, we will be able to supply some additional 300 million tonne in five years. If not, it may take longer to reach this figure,” an official said. (Business Insider)
Metallurgical coal cuts and market gloom: The fall in the metallurgical coal price has resulted in more than 19 million tonnes of global metallurgical coal production being closed, overwhelmingly in the US. With the long-lead times before announced closures take effect, prices are only expected to increase marginally to US$140 a tonne by the end of 2015. “We don't anticipate sustained or substantial recovery beyond these levels for the next few years, due to additional supplies coming online globally,” wrote Moody's vice president and senior analyst Anna Zubets-Anderson. (SNL)
Bank of America Merrill Lynch expects short-term gloom for coal: Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that prices for both thermal and metallurgical coal will remain near current levels until 2016. The financial services firm estimates that the Newcastle thermal coal price may climb from US$73 a tonne in 2015 to US$89 in 2017 but warns that “the upside over the next three years seems capped.” With China sourcing more metallurgical coal domestically, the firm estimates that Chinese imports will stabilise, resulting in prices for seaborne coal struggling to increase from US$127 at the end of 2014 to US$135 a tonne in 2015. (SNL)

Indonesia coal production climbs: Indonesia’s biggest six coal producers are aiming to increase coal production by more than 11 per cent in 2014 in a bid to offset falling prices. An Indonesian Government official says that in the first half of this year 158 million tonnes of coal was exported, a 6.8 per cent increase on the same period in 2013. (Reuters)

“Under the nose of monitoring, there’s already been a huge spread of silt from coal port activities… It really undermines the claim that dredge spoil is only impacting the dredge site,”

said Professor Terry Hughes, co-director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.


Hydrological Implications of the 4000 MW coal-fired Ultra Mega Power Project in Cheyyur, Tamil Nadu, Community Environmental Monitoring, July 2014. (Pdf)
This report documents the inadequate consideration given to the impact of the proposed Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project on local water resources. The media release on the report is here.
Unfair Shares: How coal mines bought the Hunter River, Lock The Gate, July 2014. (Pdf)
This report is a detailed examination of the profound implications – especially during drought conditions – of current coal mining industry water allocations in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
Coal mining in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia, Flickr, July 2014.

This is a damning photo collection by Lock the Gate of the devastating impact of coal mining on the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

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