February 20, 2014
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Will Japan End Its International Isolation on Overseas Coal Lending?

“As an ever-expanding number of international financial institutions restrict their support for new coal plants overseas the world’s policymakers are now turning their attention to the one nation that stands out for its refusal to join the international community – Japan. Japan is currently the largest source of finance for new dirty coal plants overseas and the prime conduit for this river of coal cash is the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC),” write Justin Guay from the Sierra Club and Bob Burton from CoalSwarm.
Suggested Tweet:  Will #Japan End Its International Isolation on Overseas #Coal Lending? http://huff.to/1bEjYJQ


Pollution from Thai coal plant pushes reluctant campaigner to the fore

“Her voice is loud and clear. It is full of passion and the continuing urgency of the campaign, and people listen to her every word.  Maliwan Nakwirot was originally a housewife, but now she speaks for hundreds of victims who have been affected by the pollution from the coal-fired power station of the Electricity Generating Authority in Mae Moh district, Lampang. The mother-turned-activist is known as a Mae Moh victims’ network leader, and is respected as one of the leading female environmental campaigners in the country,” writes Karnjana Karnjanatawe. (Bangkok Post).

Suggested Tweet: Maliwan Nakwirot speaks for 100s of victims of #EGAT Mae Moh #coal-fired power plant in #Thailand http://bit.ly/1c1TsVt

Will low prices sink Bathurst Resources proposed New Zealand mine?

After surviving legal challenges by environmental groups and protests aimed at the Australian bank, Westpac, Bathurst Resources proposed Escarpment mine is confronting unprofitably low metallurgical coal prices. While Bathurst Resources has nearly all its required permits, construction work on the proposed mine on the ecologically important Denniston Plateau is yet to start. With a global oversupply of metallurgical coal and low prices likely to persist for some time, the company is pondering how to proceed. “Bathurst should stop right now, before they even start,” warns Cindy Baxter from Coal Action Network Aotearoa. (New Zealand Herald, Coal Action Network Aotearoa)

Suggested Tweet: #Westpac backed #coal company Bathurst Resources in deep trouble as met coal price slide undermines new #NZ mine http://bit.ly/1j2WoWQ

top news

Strong public opposition to Abbott Point coal terminal expansion:  An opinion poll of over 1000 Australians has found strong opposition to the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 66% of those surveyed opposed the proposed expansion, with only 17% supporting it. Of those indicating that they supported the conservative Liberal and National Party coalition, which are in government both nationally and in Queensland, only 20% support the expansion. (Essential Media)
Criminal investigation into coal ash spill and “payments”:  Federal authorities have issued subpoenas requesting records from Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) relating to 31 coal ash dumps including the one which spilled into the Dan River. In a separate subpoena, specific DENR employees have been asked to provide details of “payments” and details of any “item of value” provided by a number of Duke Energy subsidiaries. (Guardian, WRAL.com)
Coal India restructuring deferred: Ahead of the May national election the Indian government has deferred proposals to restructure the government-owned coal mining company, Coal India. The government has been advised to restructure the company in the belief that increased competition between subsidiaries would result in expanded coal production. However, the Chairman of Coal India, S Narsing Rao, is promoting the weakening of Ministry of Environment & Forests restrictions on underground mining as a way to increase production. (Economic Times)
Legal challenge on Cheyyur land acquisition: The legality of land acquisition for the proposed 4000 megawatt (MW) Cheyyur power station has been challenged in a case filed with the Madras High Court. The case, brought by a member of a fishing community, argues that the land being acquired for the power station is at a site which was rejected. The complaint also argues that the associated port is now proposed to be in a coastal dune system at a location rejected by the state government site selection team. (Times of India)
Brown coal mine fire rages: A major fire in the Hazelwood brown coal mine is blanketing parts of the Latrobe Valley in Victoria with thick smoke. While the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index ranks a score of 150 as “poor” air, levels in the town of Morwell adjacent to the mine have reached 760.  The Country Fire Authority has warned that it is “a complex fire that will go on for some weeks.” (ABC News, Country Fire Authority)

“These energy companies, when they're done with you, what do they leave behind? They leave behind devastation,”

said Alaina Buffalo Spirit, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, objecting to a proposal to reverse the tribe's policy opposing coal development on their lands.


Australia: Closure of Alcoa aluminium smelter may trigger end of old coal plant.

Botswana: Contractor recommends feasibility study on Mea coal deposit.

France: Greenpeace dumps coal at Presidential palace ahead of meeting with German Chancellor.

Germany: Residents resist Vattenfall mine expansion plans.
India: Ministry of Coal strips companies of rights to 31 coal blocks.

Pakistan: Punjab Chief Minister lobbies Asian Development Bank for coal funding.

US: Navajo group unveils billboard warning against BHP-Billiton mine deal.


“A seven per cent return on our coal business is just not acceptable. Coal will not receive another major investment beyond the projects in execution, until we see a marked improvement in those returns,”

said BHP Billiton chief executive, Andrew Mackenzie, in a presentation to investment analysts.

companies + markets

Chinese coal bubble defaults to accelerate: With coal demand slowing, prices falling and borrowing costs increasing, financial analysts are expecting an increase in loan defaults by heavily indebted Chinese coal companies this year. Bloomberg reports that data it compiled shows that “thirteen of China’s 50 publicly traded coal companies have a debt-to-equity ratio exceeding 100 percent.” Concern is increasing that the collapse of coal companies could trigger a crisis in China’s banking sector. (Bloomberg, Financial Times)

Ennore Port ponders new coal terminal: The Chairman of Ennore Port, M A Bhaskarachar, has foreshadowed converting a disused iron ore terminal into a coal terminal to cater for increased coal imports for the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation. The existing terminal has a capacity of six million tonnes per annum. Ennore Port is seeking to raise up to US$80 million via bonds towards the cost of the terminal, dredging and other infrastructure works. (Business Standard, Dredging Today)
Faulty Malaysian plants push costs up: The failure of two coal-fired power plants has imposed higher costs on the government-owned utility, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, due to the need to source electricity from higher cost gas-fired plants. The 1400 MW Jimah and 2100 MW Tanjung Bin coal-fired plants, both of which are owned by independent power producers, were shut down for approximately two months due to faulty boiler tubes. (Free Malaysia Today)

US CCS cost over 70% higher than wholesale power price:  A US Department of Energy official has told a Congressional sub-committee hearing that current carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants would cost approximately US$70 to $90 per tonne of carbon dioxide. “That looks something like a 70% or 80% increase on the wholesale price of electricity,” said Dr. Julio Friedmann. Friedmann said that achieving a cost of US$30 per tonne by 2025 “is probably about the limit of what you can reasonably expect.” (Power Engineering International, US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee) 

“It is my opinion that, whether by accident or design, mining companies have decided that this is the year to make a stand, take no prisoners, and everyone gets to know if you want to tangle with us, this is what's going to happen to you,”

said former Family Court of Australia judge, Ian Coleman, who is voluntarily representing landowners up against coal companies.


Heavy Traffic Still Ahead, Whiteside & Associates for the Western Organization of Resource Councils, February 2014.

This report outlines the region-wide rail impacts and costs associated with the proposed increase in railroad coal export movements from the Powder River Basin to proposed export ports in the Pacific Northwest.

China’s Future Generation: Assessing the maximum potential for renewable power sources in China to 2050, WWF, February 2014. 
This report models how to phase out China’s use of coal for electricity by 2040 and the potential for aggressive energy efficiency policies and the promotion of renewable energy sources to meet growing demand.
IEEFA Briefing Note - Thermal Coal Outlook, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, February 2014.
This briefing note provides a brief overview of the tough economic outlook for thermal coal producers for at least the next few years as demand growth slows and retirement of old plants accelerates.

take action

Call for moratorium on opencast mines in Scotland

In response to a Scottish government request for comments on minesite restoration standards Scottish anti-coal groups are calling for a moratorium on new opencast coal mining operations. Add your name here.

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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