June 11, 2015
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Did BHP Billiton & friends blow US$1.3 billion on a Colombian coal project?

“Late last year BHP Billiton – along with Glencore and Anglo American Plc, its two joint-venture partners in the Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia – completed a US$1.3 billion expansion project to supply an extra 8 million tonnes of thermal coal a year to the global market. The Cerrejón mine expansion may have been commissioned but – since the project was given the go-ahead in August 2011 – the seaborne thermal coal market has tanked and the profitability of the existing mining project has taken a big hit … Have three of the world’s biggest coal exporters just blown US$1.3 billion on a stranded coal asset?,” asks Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: Did #BHPBilliton & friends blow US$1.3 billion on a #coal project in #Colombia? bit.ly/1I0ywgx @BobBurtonoz @renew_economy 

Ridley’s Canadian Coal Exports: A Terminal Illness?

“The Ridley coal export terminal in Northern BC [British Columbia], which has been suffering through a dismal year of collapsing exports in the face of weak international prices, recently published its 2014 annual report on its website … There’s no sunny optimism, just a litany of woes. You can’t read it without thinking that the authors are as depressed as the coal markets that are dragging down their business,” writes Clark Williams-Derry from the Sightline Institute.

Suggested Tweet: Ridley’s Canadian #coal exports: a terminal illness? http://bit.ly/1GnfxzU @ClarkWDerry @Sightline #Canada

Coal in Poland Lowering Life Spans

“The children Karolina Zolna knows huff and puff after a few minutes of exercise. Two years ago, her infant daughter spent four months in the hospital with pneumonia. The doctors did not identify a cause, but to Ms Zolna, the reason for the baby’s illness was obvious.  She blames the pollution that hangs heavy in the air of her gray hometown in Poland’s coal heartland, Silesia,” writes Beth Gardiner in the New York Times.

Suggested Tweet: #Coal in #Poland lowering life spans http://nyti.ms/1GsNl0q @Gardiner_Beth #pollution #health


Norway forges ahead with coal divestment

The Norwegian Parliament has unanimously voted for the country’s sovereign wealth fund to divest from coal power and mining companies which get over 30 per cent of their revenue or have 30 per cent “of their activities” in coal. German NGO Urgewald estimates that 122 companies will be excluded from the fund, with shares worth US$8.7 billion being divested. The Parliament expects the Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the fund, to implement the changes by January 1, 2016. (Guardian, Urgewald)

Suggested Tweet: Thank you for divesting from #coal, Norway! @urgewald briefing on decision & next steps http://bit.ly/1APM6WP #DivestNorway

Engie drops South African coal plant

Following a joint campaign by South African and French civil society groups Engie – previously known as GDF Suez – has withdrawn from the proposed 1200 megawatt (MW) Thabametsi coal plant in South Africa. In mid-2012 GDF Suez was selected by the coal-mining company Exxaro Resources to develop the plant, which would have been supplied from the proposed Thabametsi mine.  Earthlife Africa, Friends of the Earth France and Oxfam France say Engie’s withdrawal from the project followed the announcement by the company’s CEO Gérard Mestrallet that the company would divest from all coal by 2020. (Friends of the Earth France [Translation])

Suggested Tweet:  @ENGIEgroup drops Thabametsi #coal power plant in #SouthAfrica @amisdelaterre http://bit.ly/1JDNBKQ  #climate @Earthlife_JHB

top news

Philippines Catholic Church backs million-person petition drive against coal: The Catholic Church has joined with the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) in a petition drive to gather 1 million signatures opposing new coal mines and power plants in the country. PMCJ estimates that 26 new coal plants could be operating by 2020 despite national laws to promote renewable energy and protect the climate. (Inquirer.net)

G7 ups pressure for fossil fuel phase out: The G7 Leadersʼ Declaration endorsed the need for an emissions cut of 40 to 70% by 2050 from a 2010 baseline and the need for a “transformation of the energy sectors by 2050.” The declaration also emphasised the need to “accelerate access to renewable energy in Africa and developing countries in other regions.” Despite the lack of any explicit mention of coal, the declaration is widely seen as a rebuff for the fossil fuel industry. (G7, Guardian)

Modi backs controversial Bangladesh power plant: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has endorsed the controversial proposed  1320 MW Rampal coal power plant during his visit to Bangladesh. However, campaigners against the project – which is a joint venture between India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) – are lobbying global banks to refuse to fund it. During Modi’s tour the BPDB signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Adani Power for a 1600 MW coal plant. (Responding to Climate Change, Hindustan Times)
US court rejects coal industry appeal over Clean Power Plan: The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has unanimously rejected an appeal by Murray Energy and other coal industry supporters seeking to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide and other emissions as a part of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The court rejected the appeal on the grounds that the EPA’s proposed rule was still only a draft and was not a final rule. (Inside Climate News, New York Times)

New study reveals higher death rates below approved pollution levels: A new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health has revealed higher death rates among those over 65 in areas with higher PM2.5 fine particle pollution. The study also found that adverse health effects were noticeable even in areas where the PM2.5 levels were less than one-third of the current standard set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. (Science Daily, Time)

Supreme Court refuses to hear Alaskan coal port operator’s appeal: The US Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by the Alaska Railroad Corporation  and Aurora Energy Services, the operator of the Seward coal terminal, which sought to argue that a Clean Water Act permit allowed the discharge of coal waste into Resurrection Bay in southern Alaska. In September 2014 the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of Alaska Community Action on Toxics and the Sierra Club over coal pollution of the bay. (Greenwire)

“We do not finance coal projects any more. While natural gas is a difficult sector, solar and wind projects can be deployed rapidly to meet the government’s 24x7 power supply plan,”

said Gaetan Tiberghien from the International Financial Corporation.


Australia: Three injured by explosion and fire at aging Port Augusta power plant.

Germany: US military’s US$20 million a year Pennsylvania coal deal for German bases.
India: Another Greenpeace activist blocked from entering India despite holding a valid visa.
India: Coal mining in Jharkhand forests leading  to more conflict between elephants and villagers.

Mozambique: President Filipe Nyusi opens Vale’s new coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha port.

US: Fitch downgrades Mississippi Power due to “elevated risks” with Kemper CCS plant costs.

“We enjoyed huge profits that were abnormal. Abnormal money drives abnormal behaviour,”

said Indonesia’s Coal and Mining Minister Sudirman Said, referring to over 4000 coal and other mining licences issued which don’t comply with the law.

companies + markets

South Korea drops four proposed coal plants: Plans for four proposed coal-fired power plants with an installed capacity of 3740 MW have been dropped by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in its latest long-term energy plan. Two of the cancelled units are at the existing Yeoung-heung power plant, which has been opposed by local groups. The revised plan will be subject to public hearings. (Reuters)

China’s coal imports keep falling: Chinese coal imports for the first five months of 2015 are down 38.2 per cent compared to 2014, according to preliminary data from China's General Administration of Customs. Coal imports in May were down an estimated 40.6 per cent compared to the same time last year due to import restrictions, increased renewable electricity generation and cheaper domestic coal. (Reuters)

US coal companies self-bonding reviewed: The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), a US Department of the Interior agency, is reviewing whether Peabody Energy and other coal companies meet the financial criteria allowing them to ‘self-bond’ to cover rehabilitation liabilities. Peabody, Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Cloud Peak Energy combined have US$2.7 billion in rehabilitation costs covered by self-bonding. Without self-bonding the companies would be required to take out commercial insurance. (Reuters)
Botswana’s coal railway plan not viable: The Secretary of Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Kgomotso Abi, has told a parliamentary committee that the proposed 1500 kilometre-long Trans-Kalahari Railway from Botswana to Namibia is not viable at current coal prices. “At the current prices of coal, Trans-Kalahari Railway line won’t work but we are hoping that at some point coal prices will improve,” Abi said. (The Southern Times)

Japanese utilities increase imports from Russia: Japanese electricity utilities increased imports of Russian thermal coal by 23.5 per cent to 9.7 million tonnes in 2014. Russian coal accounts for approximately 9 per cent of Japan’s thermal coal imports. Russia’s biggest coal supplier, Siberian Coal Energy Company, has reportedly negotiated a new supply agreement with the Japanese utilities which set the price at US$72 a tonne, a cut of 17 per cent on last year. (Reuters)

“Our industry has historically been too timid to aggressively address the shortcomings of coal, but now is the time to stand up and we need to stand united. We the gas sector must do more to highlight the benefits of gas over the product of our competitors. Give me a break. Who coined clean coal? And why did we let that happen,”

said Peter Coleman, the CEO and Managing Director of the Australian oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum, at the World Gas Conference 2015.


“How Anti-Coal Campaigners Changed the Bank of America”, The Democracy Center, May 28, 2015.

This article provides a useful overview of the Rainforest Action Network’s 4-year campaign to shift the Bank of America from being the lead financier of US coal to its recent commitment to “reduce exposure to coal extraction companies.”

The coal boom choking China, Guardian, June 2015.

This multi-media website provides snapshots of China’s coal economy: an overview of the scale of China’s coal economy, the impacts of black lung disease on a miner, a village rendered uninhabitable from climate change and a city built to house environmental refugees.

Big Oil, Coal and Gas Producers Paying for their Climate Damage, Heinrich Boll Foundation, June 2015. (Pdf)

This is the third edition of a report which outlines the case for a fossil fuel extraction levy paid by the largest 90 coal, gas and oil companies which are responsible for two-thirds of global carbon emissions.

Let them Eat Coal, Oxfam, June 2015.

This report notes that the coal consumption of G7 countries is greater than all of Africa and sets out measures the developed countries should take to go coal-free.  Oxfam also commissioned the UK consultancy group E3G to provide an overview on how Germany, France, Canada and the US can rapidly phase-out their coal use.

take action

Standard Chartered: say no to Galilee coal!

Britain's Standard Chartered Bank is helping raise finance for Indian mining giant Adani’s proposal to build one of the world’s largest coal mines and ship the coal across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. 350.org has launched a sign-on letter to Standard Chartered’s CEO Bill Winters calling on him to publicly rule out involvement in Adani’s plans. Sign the petition here.

Tell the US Department of Interior to stop rubber-stamping coal

A ground-breaking legal win by WildEarth Guardians requires the Department of Interior to consider the impacts of burning coal when considering approving more coal mining. The first test of their approach is with the proposed South Taylor Expansion at the Colowyo Coal Mine in Colorado.  Tell the Department of Interior to put the climate above more coal mining. Send them a letter by June 15.

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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