October 23, 2014


Coal and Corruption

“Juan Pablo Perez Alfonso, one of the founders of OPEC, once compared the world’s fossil-fuel use to ‘drowning in the devil’s excrement.’ There is certainly plenty of evidence supporting his prediction that the fossil-fuel industry, with its powerful corrupting influence, will ‘bring us ruin.’ Indeed, coal-related corruption stories are breaking worldwide, shining a light on the murky space between ‘illegal’ and ‘improper’ where the extractive industries work,” writes Marina Lou from Greenpeace in Project Syndicate.

Suggested Tweet: Read about the corrupting influence of #coal Marina Lou from @greenpeace http://bit.ly/1t1HQxw #corruption

Take it from us in India: the world doesn’t need more Australian exported coal

“All the pieces are in place now for developing countries to choose a clean energy path that is cheaper, faster and healthier than coal. It would be nice if the Australian government focused on this, rather than exporting dirty, outdated coal,” writes Debi Goenka, the executive trustee and founder of Indian NGO the Conservation Action Trust, in the Guardian.

Suggested Tweet: Take it from us in #India: the world needs #renewables, not more Australian exported #coal Debi Goenka http://gu.com/p/42jn2/tw via @guardian

The high cost of the Indonesian coal boom

“[Coal] output has tripled within a decade and Indonesia is now the world’s top exporter of thermal coal used in power stations, earning the government billions of dollars in royalties … But with this success has come a multitude of ills, including large-scale deforestation, water pollution, conflict with local and indigenous communities and health costs from coal dust. Add to this corruption, tax evasion, illegal mining and illegal exports, which are costing the government millions of dollars in revenue. The industry is becoming a threat to itself, the economy and the national and global environment,” writes David Fogarty, in a two-part profile on the Indonesian coal industry.

Suggested Tweet: What does #coal mining mean for #Indonesia, people and #climate? 2 features http://bit.ly/1svPa2J & http://bit.ly/127plNZ @FogartyClimate


Horse, wine and tourism industries defeat Australian mine expansion

A coalition of New South Wales horse breeders and wineries is celebrating a Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) decision to block Anglo American’s proposed expansion of the Drayton South mine on the grounds that it is “not in the public interest.” The PAC stated that Anglo American had not demonstrated that it would not adversely affect equine health and the operations of two globally-significant horse studs. “The economic benefits of the project do not outweigh the risk of losing Coolmore and Darley and the potential demise of the equine industry in the area with flow‐on impacts on the viticultural tourism industries,” the commission stated. Anglo American says in its 2013 annual report that the Drayton South deposit contains approximately 672 million tonnes of metallurgical coal. (Sydney Morning Herald, Planning Assessment Commission)

top news

Private security guards beat Turkish villagers protecting olive grove: Villagers trying to block the felling of olive trees on the site of the proposed 510 megawatt (MW) Soma power station were handcuffed and assaulted by private security guards working for the construction company, Kolin Inşaat. Twenty villagers were reportedly hospitalised. For the last month the villagers have been blocking Kolin from cutting down olive trees while a legal challenge against land expropriation is before the courts. (Hurriyet Daily News, Greenpeace)

Indian power company offices raided after new ‘Coalgate’ case filed: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – the Indian government’s anti-corruption agency – has filed a new case against Jindal Steel and Power (JSP) and “other unknown public servants” over the allocation and operation of the Gare Palma IV/1 coal block. The CBI stated that, among other things, the company had mined beyond the area stipulated by the Ministry of Coal and coal had been sold to unauthorised end users. The case is the 36th initiated in the coal blocks allocation scandal. (Economic Times, Central Bureau of Investigation)

Pacific Islanders lead coal port blockade: A flotilla led by the ‘Pacific Climate Warriors’ paddled traditional canoes and outriggers into Newcastle harbour in an attempt to block the operation of Australia’s largest coal export port for a day. Only four of the 12 coal ships scheduled to use the port on the day managed to break through the blockade. Later in their Australian tour a 15-strong delegation of the Pacific Islanders and supporters occupied the Canberra office of the Minerals Council of Australia to state their concern about coal exports. The coal industry lobby group called the police and 10 were arrested and charged with trespass. (Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald)
Thousands oppose emergency energy powers bid by Filipino President: Thousands of people turned out to protest against a bid by President Benigno Aquino III to be granted emergency powers by Congress to enter into contracts authorising the construction of new power stations. Gerry Arances, the national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, said existing powers are adequate to cater for additional demand in the Luzon grid without requiring new contracts with private power producers for additional coal-fired plants. (GMA News, GMA News)

US study raises concern about mountaintop coal dust and cancer: A study by researchers at the University of West Virginia has found that prolonged exposure to dust from mountaintop removal mining operations leads to an increased risk of lung cancer. The researchers found that the coal dust did not initiate lung cancer but led to cell changes that promoted the growth and progression of it. “Our finding strengthens previous epidemiological studies linking [mountaintop removal] to increased incidence of lung cancer, and supports adoption of prevention strategies and exposure control,” the authors stated. (Charleston Gazette, Environmental Science & Technology)

Coal blocks to be auctioned off: Within the next three months the Indian government plans to auction off all 210 coal blocks ruled by the Supreme Court to have been illegally allocated. Only companies found guilty in ‘Coalgate’ cases will be excluded from bidding while those involved in cases not yet resolved by the courts will be allowed to participate. The Minister of Power is also proposing to improve the profitability of power companies reliant on imported coal and gas by ‘price pooling’ cheaper domestic fuels with higher cost imports. ‘Price pooling’ will push domestic power prices up. (Livemint, Times of India)

“The growth of renewables actually had a much bigger impact on the fall in US power sector emissions than shale gas. In fact, growth in wind power generation alone made a bigger contribution than the increase in use of gas for power,”

writes Zachary Davies Boren & Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace in EnergyDesk.


Australia: Victorian government avoids coal announcements ahead of November state election.

China: Smog so bad that Beijing Marathon runners wore masks.

India: Disinterest prompts Cochin Port Trust to drop 5 million tonne-a-year coal import terminal plan.
South Korea: POSCO investigates importing Russian coal through new North Korean coal port.

Zimbabwe: Government looks to raise US$300 million to rebuild old coal plants.

“The popular demand for cleaning up the environment and tackling the food security issue have also become a major driving force for restructuring the economy. The proportion of heavy, polluting industries in economy will decrease. Cleaner energies will replace conventional coal to cut emissions,”

wrote Ma Jun, the chief economist with the People's Bank of China, in China Daily.

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China’s break with coal continues: Chinese government data for September reveals a one percent decline in coal consumption while overall power generation grew by four per cent. An analysis by Greenpeace of the data for the first three-quarters of 2014 suggests that the decline of coal in the second and third quarters could see China’s annual coal use fall for the first time this century. (Greenpeace)

High costs crippling new Indian coal plant: The Madhya Pradesh Power Generation Company’s (MPPGCL) new 1200 MW Shree Singaji Thermal Power Plant may turn out to be a ‘white elephant.’ Coal for the first 600 MW unit at the plant, which was commissioned in February this year, is railed approximately 900 kilometres, making the transport cost of the coal almost twice the cost of the coal itself. The plant is also operating so inefficiently it burns over a kilogram of coal per kilowatt hour, almost double the Indian average. A proposed 1320 MW expansion is uncertain as MPPGCL has received no bids for the development of a coal block allocated for the project. (The Times of India)

Pakistan scales back Gadani Power Park plan: The Pakistani Government has extended the deadline to October 31 for expressions of interest for ten 660 MW coal-fired power units at Gadani Power Park. It has been reported that to date only three or four Chinese companies have lodged expressions of interest, despite the initial deadline being extended from August 18 to September 29. The government has also shelved two proposed 1200 MW publicly-owned power plants due to the poor financial position of the state and national governments. (Dawn, Pakistan Observer)
Nordic wind blowing coal away: Growing wind power capacity in the Nordic countries – along with increased efficiency and slower growth – has led to the closure of two coal plants with another retirement announced. The 695 MW Inkooplant in Finland was shut earlier this year. Vattenfall has also announced that the 409 MW coal-fired Fyn plant in Denmark will close in May 2016. In late 2013 Vattenfall sold the 314 MW Amager power plant in Copenhagen to the Danish utility HOFOR, which intends to convert it to a biomass-fired plant. (Reuters)

Polish coal industry faces massive restructuring: The Polish Government is considering splitting the government-owned coal mines into two companies with profitable mines in one and loss-making mines in the other. Loss-making mines would either be closed or employee numbers slashed in an attempt to restore profitability. Poland’s publicly-owned coal companies lost US$300 million in the first half of 2014. (Financial Times, Financial Times)

“Australians have been sold the myth that the world has an insatiable and everlasting desire to buy our coal. The reality is demand for coal in the developed world is declining, and the developing world is turning as fast as it can to other sources of power. At some stage coal is destined to become a low-value commodity, probably at a faster pace than many appreciate or are willing to admit. Meanwhile, Australia's policy-makers are doubling down on tying the economy to a fuel source of the past,”

says Kobad Bhavnagri, head of the Australian operation of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.


The U.S. Export-Import Bank's Dirty Dollars, Sierra Club, 350.org, Carbon Market Watch, Pacific Environment, and Friends of the Earth US, October 2014. (Pdf)

This report details the human rights, labor, and environmental violations at Reliance Power's Sasan coal-fired power plant and mine in Singrauli, India. The U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provided $900 million for the project, has refused to meet with the affected people in their communities.

Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance, Oxfam, October 17, 2014. (Pdf)

This paper outlines the climate-induced risk of severe food and water shortages to up to 400 million people in some of the poorest countries. It argues the case for rich countries to act in cutting fossil fuel emissions.
The mouse that roars: coal in the Queensland economy, Australia Institute, October 17, 2014. (Pdf)

This report debunks the coal industry argument that it is a major employer and contributor to the Queensland economy.

‘Pacific Island Warriors’ blockade Newcastle harbour – in pictures, Guardian, October 17, 2014.

A photo gallery of the flotilla attempting to block coal ships in Australia’s largest coal export port.

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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