December 5, 2013
View this email in your browser


Global coal lobbyist: death must be weighed against benefit

“The global coal industry thinks hundreds of thousands of deaths every year caused by its operations can be justified. At least that's what the chief executive of the World Coal Association (WCA) Milton Catelin, head of the lobby group representing many of the world's largest coal companies, inferred with his recent comments. Reacting to the grave concerns many have over the health impacts associated with the burning of coal Catelin said, ‘you have to weigh it’ against ‘the benefits’,” writes Justin Guay and Bob Burton on Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: Global #coal lobbyist says "deaths from coal burning" should be weighed against "the benefits". It's so callous

Shell gives Big Coal a shove along the gangplank

“The revelation that the global oil and gas company Shell lobbied the World Bank against funding new coal power stations is a stark indication of the increasing political isolation of the global coal industry. The coal industry is now so isolated that its corporate competitors such as Shell feel sufficiently emboldened to give the already weakened industry a big shove along the gangplank reserved for undesirable industries,” writes Bob Burton on RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: Shell gives Big #Coal a shove along the gangplank #beyondcoal

top news

Alberta coal sludge spill details emerge: A month after the collapse of a tailings dam at the Obed mine, it has been revealed that sludge up 50 centimetres thick has been deposited in the forest adjoining a 10 kilometre section of the Apetowun Creek. University of Alberta fish researcher, Mark Poesch, said that “there is likely to be significant damage to [the] fish population.” (Edmonton Journal)

Submissions roll in on Canada coal port expansion: Over 1500 submissions have been made on the proposed US$14 million Surrey Fraser Docks coal-loading facility in Vancouver.  Environmental and community groups have rejected the environmental impact assessment on the project which concluded that it would “not likely cause significant adverse effects to the environment or human health.” (Vancouver Sun)

NZ Supreme Court dismisses cost claim: The Supreme Court of New Zealand has dismissed a claim by coal miners for NZ$60,000 in legal costs from the West Coast Environment Network over a failed legal challenge against proposed coal mines. However, Bathurst Resources is still seeking NZ$300,000 in costs over a failed legal challenge against the proposed Denniston coal project. (Scoop)
Indian government eyes coal rejects to ease supply crunch: The government is contemplating requiring Coal India to supply coal washery rejects to six power stations designed to burn very low quality coal. The Power Ministry has indicated that the calorific value of the coal could be as low as 1000-1200 kcal per kilogram, far lower than the benchmark Indonesian coals which range between 3400kcal/kg and 6500kcal/kg. Burning lower calorific value coal results in more pollution per unit of electricity generated. (Mining Weekly)

US miners push for methane power OK: The California Air Resources Board is under pressure to allowing carbon credits to be issued under the state’s emissions trading scheme for electricity derived from coal mine methane emissions. Opponents of the proposal argue that issuing credits for coal mine methane would divert incentives from local emissions reduction initiatives. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Fish deformities from selenium pollution: A study has revealed that coal ash pollution from Duke Energy’s Sutton coal plant in North Carolina is killing more than 900,000 fish and deforming thousands more each year. Pollution from the coal plant ends up in Lake Sutton, a popular fishing destination. (Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance)


Australia: Anti-corruption inquiry spurs NSW Minister for Resources and Energy to resign.

Australia: Queensland opposition supports cap on coal volume and covers for wagons and stockpile.

Kazakhstan: The Shenhua Group is negotiating a 2014 start for a US$2 billion coal project.

New Zealand: Westpac tells customers protesting against bank’s coal funding to go away.

US: Pro-coal coalition fires spokeswoman after her disparaging comments became public.

“It is increasingly likely that Adani have inadvertently bought themselves the world’s most expensive cattle station,”

Tim Buckley and Tam Sanzillo, from the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, write of Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin in Australia.

companies + markets

Billionaire loses big on Bumi: The billionaire British financier, Nat Rothschild, is reported as being likely to lose US$140 million if he sells his stake in the Indonesian coal company, Bumi Resources. Back in November 2011, when he first invested in the company, Rothschild proclaimed that “hopefully we are in the process of showcasing one [Indonesian mining champion] in the years ahead.” (Daily Mail, Bloomberg)

Mongolia’s coal boom turns to bust: Faced with the downturn in Chinese coal demand and prices, the Mongolian government is seeking to diversify the country’s economy into the financial services industry. (International Business Times)

Chinese buyers eye overseas coal assets: Chinese coal companies are contemplating buying discounted overseas coal mines, according to industry consultants. “We have clients who are interested in taking stakes in coal assets. But the view is the market’s not going to get any better for two years … So why buy something today when it’s going to be a lot cheaper in eight months’ time?,” said Sam Farrands, from law firm Minter Ellison. (South China Morning Post)
Mozambique coal miners losing money: The Coaltrans Mozambique conference was told that Mozambique coal producers could not be profitable unless they could supply thermal coal loaded on to ships for less than US$35. “Given current market prices, which are expected to remain subdued for the short and medium terms, at current rail (and even worse by road) and port costs, no company mining coal in Mozambique is profitable," Henrique Pinheiro from Ariy Consulting and Advisory said. (Mineweb)

Restructuring for US coal port proponent: Ambre Energy, an Australian company proposing to build coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington State, is likely to be taken over by a Denver private equity company, Resource Capital Funds (RCF).  Ambre Energy owes RCF US$110 million and has missed a number of critical deadlines for progressing the projects. (The Oregonian)

 “The combined cost of grid power and diesel generators that many companies use today [in India] is higher than solar,”

said Avijit Bhattacharya, the chief executive officer of Tata Cleantech Capital, a joint venture between a subsidiary of the diversified Tata Group and the International Finance Corporation.


Shale Gas: Killing Coal without Cutting CO2, Co2 Scorecard, December 2013.

The authors find that because gas often displaces lower-carbon power, such as renewables, and because of methane leaks, there can be little, if any, net reduction in CO2 emissions in the US from switching from coal-fired plants to gas plants.

What does coal cost health in the United Kingdom?, Health and Environment Alliance, December 2013. (Pdf)

This briefing paper estimates that British coal power plants cause 1,600 premature deaths a year.

take action

Call for submissions of Vancouver export terminal

A coalition of British Columbia groups is calling for submissions on the Fraser Surrey Docks proposed coal port expansion. Submissions can be made here.

Call for submissions on US coal ash and coal water pollution rules

The Waterkeeper Alliance in the US is calling for submissions to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, on the need to promptly develop strong rules on coal water pollution and coal ash. Submissions can be made here.

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

                  subscribe to CoalWire         unsubscribe from this list        update subscription preferences