April 9, 2015


The Economist: Tide is turning against coal

“Growing energy efficiency, rising pollution worries and stiffer competition from other fuels mean that in most countries the tide is turning against coal. Prices have been sliding, political opposition growing and demand drooping. The Dow Jones Total Coal Market Index has fallen by 76% in the past five years,” reported The Economist.

Suggested Tweet: The tide is turning against #coal http://econ.st/1CSFpAX @TheEconomist

The heavy toll of coal power in South Africa

“MNS is one of many informal settlements around the city of Emalahleni, ‘the place of coal’ in Zulu, in the province of Mpumalanga, where decades of excessive coal mining has taken its toll on the environment. The area of Emalahleni was declared a ‘High Priority Area’ by the South African government in 2007 due to the hazardous substances in the air. Among the issues scientists have found are elevated carbon dioxide emissions, sulphur dioxide in the air, heavy metals in the soil and acidic groundwater. These were linked to the 22 collieries in Mpumalanga [and] 12 coal-fired power stations ... There are no leaves on the trees, and the waters are clear and lifeless. Thick fog looms in the air,” writes Victoria Schneider in Al Jazeera.
Suggested Tweet: The heavy toll of #coal-fired power in South Africa http://yhoo.it/1aiPdtT

Tension over coal rises in Inner Mongolia

“Inner Mongolia is China’s second-largest coal producing region ... A study by a team of Chinese academics titled ‘The false promises of coal exploitation’ found that the mining industry had not raised herders’ incomes and that damage to the fragile grassland environment from mining activities had ‘increased the risks that herdsman will have to endure in the future’ ... Protests have ensued … and tensions in Inner Mongolia are on the rise, posing fresh problems for Beijing as it attempts to maintain stability while global commodity prices slide,” writes Simon Denyer in the Washington Post.

Suggested Tweet: China’s herders facing the false promises of #coal exploitation in Inner Mongolia http://wapo.st/1CcETeh @wapo


Montana puts the brakes on Arch Coal’s massive Otter Creek coal mine

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality says Arch Coal’s proposal for the 1.3-billion-tonne Otter Creek mine will not move forward until the company addresses hundreds of deficiencies in its permit application. Those deficiencies include Arch’s discussion of wildlife, hydrology, agriculture, reclamation, soils, the mine plan, and post-mine topography. (NRDC)

French banks will not fund coal mining in Australia’s Galilee Basin

France’s BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale said they will not participate in the financing of coal mining projects in Australia’s Galilee Basin, nor finance any associated infrastructure. The new commitments raise to eleven the number of international banks that have promised not to finance expansion of the Abbot Point coal export port. Campaigners that pushed for the policy, including Friends of the Earth France, are now calling on the French banks to end their coal financing completely by the end of the year. (Financial Review)

New York’s Syracuse University to divest from coal and fossils

Syracuse University is formalizing a plan to divest from coal mining companies and other fossil fuel holdings its US$1.2 billion endowment. The move followed a meeting in February between university officials and members of Divest SU, a student-based group seeking to divest the university's endowment from fossil fuels. The university will seek to invest in companies developing new technology related to solar energy, biofuels, and advanced recycling. (Pensions and Investments)

“Our aim is to have zero import of coal, and manage with the coal from Coal India sources or our own mines,”

said NTPC CMD Arup Roy Choudhury. 

top news

Barclays joins financial institutions rejecting mountaintop removal funding: Barclays PLC has ruled out future financing for mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining, after being the leading bankroller worldwide in 2013. Barclays cited environmental and social impacts as well as market forces in its decision, saying MTR will be phased out in the “near to intermediate term.” The policy change follows a similar move by PNC Financial, and years of pressure by Rainforest Action Network. (Rainforest Action Network)

US energy transition shifts into high gear: The US Energy Information Administration estimates US utilities will add 12,000MW of solar and wind capacity while retiring 12,900MW of coal-fired power plants in 2015. The EIA also predicted US coal production will be 840 million tonnes in 2015, the lowest since 1987. Domestic coal use is expected to decline due to coal plant retirements in response to federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. (EIA, Platts)
Green Climate Fund board OK’s spending on fossil fuel projects: Meeting in South Korea, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) refused to explicitly ban funding for fossil fuel projects. As a result, GCF monies can be spent on coal-fired power plants. Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia opposed the ban. The news came after reports that Japan had counted over US$1.6 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh as climate finance under the GCF. (CleanTechnica, AP)

China and Pakistan prepare agreement for new coal plants and mines: A joint working group of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have laid out over 3000 megawatts (MW) of coal-burning generation projects in Pakistan for signing during the forthcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two sides will also agree on terms for 3.8 million tonnes per annum of coal mining by Sindh-Engro Coal Mining Company of Pakistan. (Dawn)


“Japan is of the view that the promotion of high-efficiency coal-fired power plants is one of the realistic, pragmatic and effective approaches to cope with the issue of climate change,”

said Takako Ito, a spokesperson for the Japanese Foreign Ministry.


Scotland: Cluff Natural Resources awarded additional underground gasification license in the Firth of Forth.
US: Coyote Island Terminal receives water permit.
South Africa: Miners sue Sasol over disease from coal dust exposure.
India: Singareni Collieries eyes mines in South Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

US: Duke CEO gets US$600,000 pay cut over coal ash debacle.

India: China Huaneng will invest US$3 billion in Gujarat coal plants.
Mongolia: Authorities cancel deal with foreign consortium to develop Tavan Tolgoi coal mine.
US: Bloomberg and others pledge US$60 million to Sierra Club coal campaign.

“Due to a confluence of market forces and regulatory scrutiny in recent years, we believe that MTR is a mining method that will be phased out in the near to intermediate term,”

says Barclays Policy Statement on Mountaintop Removal (MTR) Coal Mining, March 2015.

companies + markets

Most Chinese coal mining firms operating at a loss: A new report in Securities Daily cites figures showing China coal industry profits almost halved in 2014 to 126.9 billion yuan. Over 70 per cent of coal firms were in the red: of the 36 major coal enterprises nationwide, 20 were operating at a loss and another 9 were scraping through with low profits, according to data from the China National Coal Association. (China Spectator)

Russia rides devalued rouble into Australian coal export markets: The depreciation of the rouble has helped Russia increase its share of Pacific thermal coal sales, eroding the dominance of Australia and Indonesia. Coal from Russia to the Pacific has increased by about 8 million tonnes, jumping to 35 percent of the market. Wood Mackenzie predicts continued excess coal for the rest of the decade, with real prices rising at most US$1-$2 a year through 2020. (AFR Weekend)

Canadian carbon capture aids oil industry, hurts consumers: In 2014, the Boundary Dam Power Station in Saskatchewan was equipped with the world’s first full-scale coal carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility, and the CO2 was sold to a local oil producer. According to its first financial analysis, the facility will lose US$1,042 million over its lifespan, making it function “primarily as a public subsidy to the province’s aging oil industry.” (Grist)

Analysts say doubling of carbon tax will force UK coal plants to close: The UK carbon floor price rose from $US14.23 to $US26.99 per tonne of CO2 this year. The increase is putting pressure on coal-fired assets, in addition to uncertainty about new EU industrial emissions rules next year. Market experts believe the hike in the UK carbon price should be enough to force fuel-switching from coal to gas, unless gas prices rise substantially. (Guardian)

resources                      take action

Advocacy Training: Energy Finance 2015, Institute for Policy Integrity and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), March 2015.

This website provides presentations by over a dozen coal industry experts who met in New York to share information on topics including international coal markets, coal plant cancellations, coal developments in India and China, coal ash, grid-scale storage, distributed solar, and industry tactics.

Employment trends in the US Electricity Sector, 2008–2012, Energy Policy journal, March 2015.

From 2008 to 2012, the US coal industry lost more than 49,000 jobs while wind and solar added about 79,000 jobs, according to a new study out of Duke University.

Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet by Richard Martin, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

New book “chronicles the dramatic stories behind coal's big shutdown—and the industry's desperate attempts to remain a global behemoth.”

New coal mine planned for South African wilderness area

Mining company Ibutho Coal has submitted an application to mine coal on the border of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area in South Africa. Global Environmental Trust (GET) is raising support and funds to challenge the mine.

350.org calls on Germany to protect coal rules

Proposed legislation to limit coal emissions in Germany is being challenged. Yet European Commission data shows four out of five of the EU’s largest emitters are German lignite plants. 350.org is calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to defend and strengthen the proposed legislation on coal emissions.

Communities around Cerrejón resisting diversion of the Arroyo Bruno river

Owners of the Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia have proposed the diversion of the Arroyo Bruno river to supply the mine. Global Justice Now is asking people to voice their opposition to the proposal.

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 editor@coalwire.org CoalWire is archived at www.coalwire.org

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