December 11, 2014


Coal giant exploits the global poor to save its own hide

“The main thing to remember about energy poverty is that it’s less about energy than it is about poverty. Poor people lack economic, social, and political power. That’s why they lack energy access. Building a bunch of big coal plants will no more cure energy poverty than building a bunch of big banks will solve poverty,” writes David Roberts in Grist.

Suggested Tweet: @peabodyenergy exploits the global poor to save its own hide writes @drgrist #coal

2014 grassroots anti-coal movements to watch

“Wherever there are coal mines, coal shipping ports, and power plants around the globe, local communities are fighting back against deadly pollution and economic destruction. Today, the Sierra Club released our fourth annual report on some of the world’s major, ongoing grassroots coal fights around the world. Pitted against unimaginable wealth and power and too often facing violence and intimidation, these are the people that refuse to be silent,” writes Nicole Ghio and Neha Mathew from the Sierra Club.

Suggested Tweet: The rapid growth of the global movement against #coal in 2014 @nicoleghio

Indonesian coal lobby urges ‘shock therapy’ cuts to production

“The head of the Indonesian Coal Mining Association (APBI) has proposed that Indonesian coal mining companies slash coal production in 2015 by 100 million tonnes. ‘Coal miners are bleeding with current prices. So, if production volume is reduced, the price will get better,’ APBI chairman Bob Kamandanu told the Jakarta Globe. With Indonesia estimated to produce approximately 410 million tonnes of coal this year, Kamandanu’s nominated target would represent the shuttering of almost one-quarter of production in a year,” writes Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: Indonesian #coal lobby urges ‘shock therapy’ cuts to production @bobburtonoz @reneweconomy #Indonesia


French bank retreats from Galilee Basin coal project

The day before a national day of action organised by French civil society groups Societe Generale announced it had withdrawn from any role in financing the proposed US$5.3 billion Alpha coal mine and related infrastructure in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. Attac France, Bizi! and Friends of the Earth France, who described the proposed 30 million tonnes of coal per annum project as a “climate bomb”, had planned protests at a dozen branches of the bank. Societe Generale has become the ninth international bank to rule out refuse to finance a Galilee Basin project. (Reuters, 350 Australia)

Suggested Tweet: Congratulations @SocieteGenerale for pulling out of Alpha #coal in #Australia

Indonesian Government backs away from Central Kalimantan coal railway

WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia has welcomed the decision by the Indonesian Minister for National Development Planning, Adrinof Chaniago, to exclude the proposed Central Kalimantan railway from the development plan for 2015-2019. The 425-kilometre long railway had been planned to carry up to 50 million tonnes of coal a year from proposed new mines in the remote forested areas of central Kalimantan. BHP Billiton, which is seeking to develop the IndoMet Coal Project, is one of the companies affected. (Walhi/Friends of the Earth)

Suggested Tweet: Central Kalimantan #coal railway gets thumbs down from #Indonesia govt admin. Major blow to @bhpbilliton @walhinasional

“Solar is now cheaper than coal and there should be a solar revolution … which will save the country a lot of money,”

said Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group on potential opportunities in Zambia.

top news

State Bank of India feels the heat on Adani loan: The State Bank of India (SBI) has announced that a decision on whether to proceed with a proposed US$1 billion loan to Adani for its Galilee Basin coal projects in Australia will not be made for two to three months. SBI has been stung by accusations from opposition politicians that the loan is an example of ‘crony capitalism’. An online petition to the Chairperson of SBI, Arundhati Bhattacharya, has garnered over 910,000 signatures. (Business Today, Economic Times)

European Union court upholds Spanish coal plant subsidies: The General Court of the European Union (CVRIA) has upheld the right of the Spanish Government to subsidise 10 coal power plants’ use of domestic coal. The subsidy costs approximate US$492 million a year. The court ruled that as the subsidy was provided for an economic purpose, the European Commission had not erred in not considering European Union rules on the protection of the environment. (General Court of the European Union)

Review of Norwegian Government Pension Fund hedges bets: The draft report of a panel reviewing the Norwegian Government Pension Fund has proposed the addition of “contribution to climate change” as a new criterion to screen investments. The draft report also proposed that divestment from coal company stocks be considered on a case-by-case basis rather than as an automatic exclusion. The final report will be submitted to parliament in mid-2015. (Norwegian Government Pension Fund)
US coal and gas companies donating to state attorneys-general: A dozen state Republican Attorneys-General have received donations of over US$16 million from coal, gas and oil companies. The corporate donors – including Peabody Energy, Alpha Natural Resources, American Electric Power and Southern Company – have worked closely with the Attorneys-General to challenge a range of US government environmental policies and regulations. (New York Times)

Indian MP’s shares seized: A parcel of shares given to Congress Party member of Indian Parliament, Vijay Darda, has been seized by the Enforcement Directorate which polices India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The shares, worth approximately US$4 million, were given to Darda by AMR Iron and Steel, which is one of the companies under investigation over the allocation of coal blocks. (Zee News)

“Maybe, just maybe, we will look back on the last weeks as one of those moments when history turned. For they have witnessed increasing signs that the world is beginning, unexpectedly, to reject its dirtiest fuel,”

writes Geoff Lean in The Telegraph.


Australia: No comment from Whitehaven Coal on three spontaneous-combustion fires in two days.

Brazil: Posco enters into MOU with coal company Copelmi for US$1.8 billion coal gasification plant.
Slovenia: Inquiry into cost hikes and corruption claims over new unit at Sostanj power station.

Vietnam: Government builds new coal import terminal and ponders plans for two more.

“I don’t want our financial system to end up underperforming for pensioners. I don’t want them to have to invest in stranded assets. I don’t want to get to a point where in 10 to 20 years’ time these assets turn out to be the new sub-prime assets of the future … Investing in new coal mines is going to get very risky,”

the UK Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, told The Telegraph.

companies + markets

Mitsui looks to buy stake in Mozambique: Vale has agreed to sell a 15 per cent stake in its Moatize metallurgical coal mine in Mozambique to the Japanese trading house Mitsui for US$450 million. Mistui will also spend a further US$188 million to complete the mine project. At a cost of US$313 million Mitsui also bought half of Vale’s 70 per cent stake in the Moatize to Nacala railway and port project. The two companies are negotiating for Mitsui to contribute a further US$2.7 billion to complete the railway and port project. (Vale)

Polish coal flounders: The Economy Ministry says that in the first nine months of 2014 Poland’s government-owned hard coal mining sector lost US$158 million due to rising costs, a fall in  domestic demand and exports, growing stockpiles and falling prices. Thermal coal production during the period was down by just over eight per cent. With the government considering requiring power producers to buy struggling coal companies, market analysts are tipping a rise in wholesale power prices. (Platts, ICIS)
Anglo American considers dumping thermal coal: Anglo American has flagged that it is considering selling part or all of its thermal coal mines in South Africa and Australia. The company owns and operates two thermal coal mines in Australia and seven in South Africa. It also has a 73 per cent interest in two other thermal coal mines in South Africa. (Bloomberg)

Bumi plans to cut debt and increase production: Bumi Resources, which has defaulted on payments on some of its bonds, has announced ambitious plans to cut its debt from US$3.7 billion to US$2 billion by the end of 2015. Bumi Resources corporate secretary, Dileep Srivastava, insisted that it wasn’t the company’s “desire or intention to pursue liquidation” but claimed it aimed to increase production to 100 million tonnes and resume paying dividends. (Jakarta Globe)


Coal Kills: Health Impacts of Air Pollution from India's coal power expansion, Conservation Action Trust, December 2014. (Pdf)

This report estimates that a potential tripling of coal-fired power plant capacity by 2030 could lead to the premature deaths of up to 229,500 people a year in the absence of strict air pollution controls.

Suggested Tweet: New report from India-based groups finds Indian 'airpocalypse' could kill 229,000 people annually #coal
The Spill at Dan River, 60 Minutes, December 7, 2014.

This 14-minute long TV segment tells the scandalous story of coal ash pollution of waterways at Duke Energy’s 14 power stations in North Carolina.


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