January 10, 2014
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Goldman Sachs bails out of US coal port company

A Goldman Sachs fund has sold its 49 per cent stake in the parent company of SSA Marine, which is proposing to build a major coal port at Cherry Point in Washington state. Goldman Sachs had been subjected to sustained criticism from environmental groups for its role in the project. “It is reasonable to think that Goldman’s departure is, at minimum, an indication Wall Street is losing confidence that Whatcom County will host a profitable coal terminal,” wrote Eric de Place, the policy director of the Seattle-based think tank, the Sightline Institute. (Reuters, Sightline Daily)

top news

Court seeks reversal of more than 100 Indian coal allocations: The Supreme Court of India has asked the Indian government if it is willing to cancel more than 100 allocations of coal blocks made since 2005 and nullify other allocations where leases have not been finalised or key milestones met. The court also dismissed the government’s argument that as significant funds had already been invested in many projects the allocation decisions should not be overturned. “They [coal companies] must suffer consequences no matter how much investment has been made by them. The alleged illegality cannot be compounded,” the court stated. (Indian Express, Hindu Business Line)

Indian Supreme Court orders creation of environmental regulator: The Supreme Court has insisted that the government implement an order from 2011 requiring the establishment of a national environmental regulator. The ruling is a rebuff for the central government which argued that under the Forest (Conservation) Act the government alone could determine if projects should proceed. (The Indian Express)
European villages resist lignite expansion: The proposed expansion of lignite mines in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic is spawning a backlash in affected communities. “It’s absurd … Germany wants to transition toward renewable energy, and we’re being deprived of our land,” said Petra Roesch, mayor of Proschim, a 700-year-old village that would be demolished by a mine expansion proposed by Vattenfall. (Bloomberg)

Sri Lanka’s first coal plant expensive and unreliable: The first 300 megawatt (MW) unit of the 900MW Lakvijaya Power Station has been shut down 25 times since it was first commissioned in March 2011. The project, costing US$1.38billion, was built by China Machinery and Engineering Corporation and partly financed by the Chinese government. Problems have included faulty valves, damage to pipes, coal mill fires and transmission line failures. Ceylon Electricity Board officials have confirmed that all the documentation manuals for the plant were in Chinese. (Sunday Times, ColomboPage)



Australia: Two companies fail in bid for $90 million Victorian brown coal grants but others remain.

Canada: Manitoba ban on burning coal for heating comes into effect.

China: Railway official sentenced to death over bribes from coal mining and power companies.
US:  Judge rejects BNSF bid to dismiss suit over coal pollution from railways.

US: Despite opposition, Navajo Nation completes purchase of BHP Billiton mine.


“We know this is a very costly decision from a royalties point of view, but what’s at risk is the country’s environment. If they don’t do things properly, we’d prefer not to have this money, and they have to learn that Colombia must be respected,”

Colombia’s Environment Minister Luz Sarmiento told reporters on the decision to prevent Drummond Company loading coal by crane until its conveyor loading system is completed.

companies + markets

Drummond ordered to cease coal loading: The Colombian government has ordered the Drummond Company, the country’s second largest coal producer, to cease loading coal until it complies with new environmental protection rules. Drummond continued loading coal via its crane system even though the new standards requiring loading via conveyor came into effect on January 1. Drummond, a privately-owned US company, has stated its new coal handling facilities will not be completed until March. (Bloomberg, Reuters)

China OK’s major new coal projects: In 2013 the central government of China approved 15 major new mines which have a combined capacity of 101 million-tonnes –per-annum (mtpa). The  government’s focus is on developing "coal industry bases" in provinces such as Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, despite significant water constraints. (Reuters)
Indonesia forecasts lower 2014 coal production: The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has estimated that 362 million tonnes of coal will be produced in 2014, 19 million tonnes lower than in 2013. The ministry is estimating a jump in domestic use of more than 21 million tonnes and a decline in exports as a result of a new policy aimed at limiting the export of unprocessed raw materials. (Antara)

US coal exports to fall: The US Energy Information Administration estimates that coal exports fell by almost six per cent in 2013 compared to 2012. The EIA estimates that coal exports will fall by a further 11% to 95 million tonnes in 2014 and 2015 due to factors including “slowing Asian demand growth”, increasing production by other exporters, and falling prices. (US Energy Information Administration)

“Divestment says: If you make your fortune digging fossil fuels out of the ground and poisoning the air by burning them, then people are going to shun you and your business. Maybe you’d like to consider a different line of work? Or think about pivoting your firm toward less reliance on dirty stuff?,”

writes Matthew Yglesias, Slate's business and economics correspondent.


Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units: A Proposed Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency, US Federal Register, January 8, 2014.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released proposed carbon dioxide emission standards which will exclude new coal plants unless they incorporate Carbon Capture and Storage, but set the threshold at a level that will not affect most new gas-fired plants.


take action

Request for letters to stop waste dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is considering an application to dump 3 million cubic metres of dredging waste in the marine park from the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal. You can send an email opposing the proposal to the authority via here. A decision is expected by the end of January.

Sign-on letter opposing finance for Indonesian coal plant

Japanese environmental groups are organising a sign-on letter for organisations requesting the Japan Bank for International Cooperation not fund the proposed 2000MW coal-fired power plant in Batang, Indonesia. (See here for a video on the project). To have your organisation included send your name and the name of your organization to hatae@foejapan.org by January 30th.

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

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