April 3, 2014

Time to limit coal’s endless thirst

“A typical coal plant uses enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every three and a half minutes. To put it in global terms, that is about 8% of our total global water demand … With more than 1200 new coal plants proposed around the world – and much of the coal expansion in places such as China, India, and Russia where, together, 63% of the population is already suffering from water scarcity – a reckoning must be made in terms of how sensible it is for the coal industry to continue,” writes Kumi Naidoo, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

Suggested Tweet: @kuminaidoo (Greenpeace): The #coal industry's unquenchable thirst & why it's time to limit it http://bit.ly/1fLBx6W

Peabody calls on notorious PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, for pro-coal campaign

“Peabody Energy Corp., the world's largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people … Burson-Marsteller, the world's largest PR firm, and its subsidiary, Proof Integrated Communications, are working behind the scenes on Peabody's PR effort … Burson-Marsteller has a long history of working on PR campaigns that downplay or contradict established health concerns,” writes Kate Sheppard at Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: Who did Peabody call for Advanced Energy for Life #coal PR campaign? Burson-Marsteller, tobacco spinner http://huff.to/OcJ5ba @kate_sheppard


92 year-old Australian explains why he was arrested blocking a coal mine

92 year-old former World War II veteran, Bill Ryan, was arrested along with 81 others trying to block the construction of Whitehaven Coal’s proposed Maules Creek coal mine in New South Wales. “I’ll continue to protest … We’re faced with a catastrophe. I owe it to my grandchildren, and I owe it to all children. I was willing to put my life on the line in the Second World War, so putting my body on the line here is a small inconvenience,” said Ryan. (Guardian, Newcastle Herald)

First Nation bands want coal company banned from tribal land

Two northern British Columbian First Nation bands have demanded that Fortune Minerals staff be banned from entering Tahltan Nation lands unless they first gain permission. The decision follows company staff doorknocking band members and distributing videos promoting the benefits of a proposed open-cut metallurgical coal mine on Mt Klappen. “The company's efforts to lobby our people have only hardened their resolve and opposition,” said Chief Marie Quock of the Iskut Band. “Our message to them is blunt - get serious, recognize that this project should not go ahead in this critically important part of our territory, and get out of the Klappan.” (Terrace Standard)

top news

Indonesian security forces paid by Australian coal contractor: The Australian contracting company, Thiess, has paid tens of thousands of dollars to Indonesian police and military officials in return for security at coal mines in South and East Kalimantan where there have been accusations of police brutality. Fairfax Media reported that “Thiess deposited a large sum in the bank account of a relative of a senior Indonesian security official, while other payments were made in cash.” (The Age)

Coal blocks allocated before Indian company existed: The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed charges against the owner of Central Collieries Limited (CCL). CCL had been allocated a coal block by the Ministry of Coal to supply coal to a captive coal power station. However, when CCL sought state government approval, the captive power plant condition had been altered and CCL sold coal on the open market. (Times of India)

Complaint over environmental regulator lodged with corruption watchdog: The Hunter Community Environment Centre (HCEC) had lodged a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inadequate regulation of coal trains. The complaint follows HCEC gaining more than 3,000 pages of internal EPA documents relating to coal dust emissions from trains. Newcastle is the world’s largest coal export port. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Pakistan’s coal boom proceeds without assessment: A raft of new coal projects – power stations, lignite mines and port facilities – are being promoted by the Pakistan Government. “All these projects have been launched without conducting environmental impact assessment, a pre-requisite under the law,” according to Engr Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui, a former chairman of the State Engineering Corporation. (Dawn)

US export proponent seeks permit delay: Ambre Energy has requested the Department of State Lands delay its decision on a permit for a dock on the Columbia River in Oregon until later in 2014. The department was due to make its decision by April 30. The dock is a part of Ambre Energy’s proposal for an 8 million tonnes-per-annum coal export project. (The Oregonian)

Vale suspends Mozambique coal exports: After the driver of a coal train was shot and injured, Vale temporarily suspended exports through the port of Beira. Coal exports via the Sena railway to Beira from Vale and Rio Tinto’s mines near Moatize have been repeatedly disrupted in the last few years by floods, protests and clashes between former civil war rebels and security forces. Rio Tinto have not yet indicated whether they too will suspend exports. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)

“If you think you're too small to make a difference, just spend a night in a room with a mosquito,”

said Australian cookbook legend, Margaret Fulton, at the launch of a campaign to protect agricultural land and water catchments in New South Wales from coal and coal-seam gas developments.


Australia: Health study to be done on six-week long Hazelwood mine fire.

Colombia: Drummond resumes coal exports with port works to be completed by August.

Germany: Coal and gas-fired power generation falls due to less exports and more renewables.

Pakistan: Chinese coal plant companies insist plants not viable unless power prices increase.
US: Alpha Natural Resources fined US$27.5M for water pollution in five states.

UK: UK Coal seeks financial help to keep mines open.

Vietnam:  Increased domestic coal costs to push power prices up.

“If coal prices continue to slide, it will be hard for many [Chinese coal] companies to survive. The whole industry will undergo a major consolidation,”

said Weng Qing An, the chief financial officer at China Coal Energy, the second largest Chinese coal producer.

companies + markets

Pacific coal benchmark price slides further: The world’s largest coal exporter, Glencore Xstrata, has agreed to sell Australian thermal coal to the Japanese utility, Tohoku Electric, for US$81.80 per tonne, a fourteen per cent cut on last year’s annual contract price. Tohoku Electric is the first company to settle the Japan-Australian contract for the April 1, 2014 to March 30 2015 period. The Newcastle thermal coal is a benchmark for the Pacific coal trade. (Bloomberg)

Coal India rebuffs GVK Galilee coal pitch: Coal India has rejected a request to buy equity in GVK’s Galilee Basin coal projects in Australia. Coal India dismissed the pitch due to high project costs, the risks of the project and weakening demand for coal. Another Galilee Basin project proponent, Adani, has stated that finalising finance for its Carmichael coal project has been delayed until the first half of 2015, six to twelve months later than previous indications. (Livemint, Livemint)

Indian demand slows while “stranded” plants abound: Slowing demand growth and the rapid commissioning of new generation capacity have reduced the ‘supply gap’ in the Indian power sector. Debashish Mishra from Deloitte India estimates that coal-based power plants are operating only at  65% capacity “while 30,000 megawatts (MW) of projects are stranded.” State distribution companies finances are so precarious that many don’t buy power even though demand exists. (Economic Times)
UK coal power falls faster than demand: Power generation from coal in the UK fell by 10 million tonnes or nine per cent in 2013, according to data released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. In 2013, UK power generation fell by 2 per cent. Greenhouse gas emissions from UK power stations have fallen by 29 per cent since 1990. (Department of Energy and Climate Change, Reuters)

Duke Energy investors demand action from directors: Nineteen Duke Energy investors have written to the Board of Directors demanding an independent investigation into the Dan River coal ash spill, reported violations of regulatory standards and potential liabilities at the company’s other coal ash dams. The investors are seeking a status report on the investigation be provided to shareholders by the company’s May 1 annual general meeting. (SNL)

Chinese province reels from falling coal prices: The Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, which produced over a billion tonnes of coal in 2012, is reeling from falling prices, growing stockpiles and slowing demand. “This is the bitter medicine the sector needs. Too many have been blindly expanding for too long and the market is awash with coal," said a coal trader in Guangdong province. (Reuters)

“Coal’s cost competitiveness is declining as a result of both the shale gas revolution and improving economics of renewable energy,”

wrote Citi financial analyst Ivan Szpakowski..


Railroaded: Carving up food lands for coal transport in Central Queensland, Lock the Gate, March 2014. (Pdf) Executive Summary (Pdf)

This report examines the potential adverse impacts on farming if the Queensland Government proceeds with its proposal to declare a 2 million hectare Galilee Basin State Development Area in Central Queensland to facilitate coal rail developments.

Japan does not need nuclear to meet climate commitments, Greenpeace International, March 2014. (Pdf)

This briefing paper provides a useful overview of how limited the increase on coal generation has been in the aftermath of the post-Fukushima shutdown of Japan’s fleet of 54 nuclear power stations.

Sierra Club Testimony to US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sierra Club, March 27, 2014.

This testimony on the Power Africa Initiative, a US plan to expand energy infrastructure in Africa, argues the need for greater emphasis on off-grid and distributed generation.
Resources and Energy Quarterly: March Quarter 2014, Australian Government Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, March 2014. (Pdf)

This detailed report presents the Australian Government’s  assessment of key factors affecting demand and pricing for key commodities including separate sections on both thermal coal and metallurgical coal.

“Stranded on a low-carbon planet: Implications of climate policy for the phase-out of coal-based power plants”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, March 31, 2014.

This paper argues that weak short-term greenhouse gas emission reduction targets will result in as much as 37% of investment in proposed new coal capacity over the next four decades being stranded assets.

Largesse that wasn’t: The story of coal shortages in India, Prayas Energy Group, March 2014. (Pdf) 

This report provides a useful overview of the history of India’s current coal crisis of the over-allocation of resources, costly coal imports and uneconomic generation.


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