Archive | Coal

Great Barrier Reef Pitted Against Coal Jobs in Australia Vote – by Jason Scott and Perry Williams (Bloomberg News – November 21, 2017)

The fate of Adani Group’s A$16.5 billion ($12.4 billion) Australian coal mine hinges on weekend elections in Queensland state, as voters weigh the promise of new jobs against a potential environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Labor government has vowed to reject A$900 million in federal funding for a new rail link, which is needed to carry coal to the coast for export. The opposition Liberal National Party, vying to win office in Saturday’s ballot, says that threatens the viability of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s project, and with it the economic future of the resource-rich state.

As the world grapples with the fossil fuel’s role in the future energy mix, the proposed Carmichael mine has become a defining issue in the election. Opinion polls indicate the result is too close to call. Continue Reading →

INTERVIEW: A Troubling Look at the Human Toll of Mountaintop Removal Mining – by Richard Schiffman (Yale Environment – November 21, 2017)

For years, the coal industry has dismissed the idea that mountaintop mining adversely affects people living nearby. But research by Indiana University’s Michael Hendryx provides stark evidence that this widespread mining practice is leading to increases in disease and deaths in Appalachia.

The devastating environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia have long been well documented. But over the last decade, Indiana University researcher Michael Hendryx has been examining another consequence of this form of coal surface mining that had previously been overlooked: the health impacts on the people in the surrounding communities.

What he has found, Hendryx says, is a public health disaster, with more than a thousand extra deaths each year in areas of Appalachia where mountaintop removal (MTR) operations take place.

The air and water pollution caused by this mining practice, which involves deforesting and tearing off mountaintops to get at the coal, is leading to increases in cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, pulmonary disease, and birth defects, his research shows. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: UK Researchers First to Produce High Grade Rare Earths From Coal (November 20, 2017)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 20, 2017) — University of Kentucky researchers have produced nearly pure rare earth concentrates from Kentucky coal using an environmentally-conscious and cost-effective process, a groundbreaking accomplishment in the energy industry.

“As far as I know, our team is the first in the world to have provided a 98 percent pure rare earth concentrate from a coal source,” said Rick Honaker, professor of mining engineering.

From national defense to health care, rare earth elements or REEs are essential components of technologies like iPhones, computers, missiles and other applications. Interest in REEs is at an all-time high in the U.S. right now, with the Department of Energy investing millions in research. Honaker has received $7 million from the department to produce rare earths from Kentucky coal sources, a feat he has now accomplished, and $1 million for other REE projects. Continue Reading →

Coal Back as Flashpoint in Climate-Change Fight – by Jess Shankleman (Bloomberg News – November 18, 2017)

Coal emerged as the surprise winner from two weeks of international climate talks in Germany, with leaders of the host country and neighboring Poland joining Donald Trump in support of the dirtiest fossil fuel.

While more than 20 nations, led by Britain and Canada, pledged to stop burning coal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her country’s use of the fuel and the need to preserve jobs in the industry. Meanwhile Poland’s continued and extensive use of coal raised concerns that the next meeting, to be held in the nation’s mining heartland of Katowice, could thwart progress.

“People don’t have total confidence that Poland wants to increase ambition, to put it plainly,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. “They’re 80 percent dependent on coal, they’ve been pushing back against European Union proposals to increase ambition.” Continue Reading →

Canada’s pathetic, empty-headed crusade against coal – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – November 15, 2017)

Of all the empty gestures in the pathetic history of global climate policy-making, few match the air-headedness of Canada’s intent — to be officially announced Thursday at the United Nations COP23 climate conference in Bonn — to lead a global campaign to rid the world of carbon-emitting coal.

By any measure, Canada is a nobody in the coal business, ranking near the bottom of all global measures of the industry, worth less than one per cent of global production and consumption. Canada is a non-player, a zero, an insignificant speck on the great world coal market.

But that isn’t stopping Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, donning her Climate Crusader Halloween outfit, from swooshing into COP23 to take on the world. “Canada is committed to phasing out coal,” she said. Continue Reading →

At same time U.S. hosts Bonn event praising coal, Canada’s environment minister goes on Twitter to blast its use – by Mia Rabson (National Post – November 14, 2017)

CANADIAN PRESS – OTTAWA — A U.S. effort to stoke the fires of coal-powered electricity didn’t escape the attention of Canada’s environment minister Monday as Catherine McKenna used her Twitter account to troll the carbon-based fuel just as American officials were extolling its virtues.

McKenna is in Bonn, Germany, for the 2017 United Nations climate change talks, where the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris accord are being hammered out — and where she and British counterpart Claire Perry hope to convince the world to abandon coal-fired power.

By contrast, the United States — with President Donald Trump at its helm — has famously promised to “end the war on coal.” Continue Reading →

Canada, Britain to tout coal phase-out as U.S. champions fossil fuels – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – November 13, 2017)

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and her British counterpart, Claire Perry, will launch an international alliance to phase out coal-fired electricity at the Bonn climate summit this week, signalling a sharp contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s promotion of coal as an important global energy source.

Ms. McKenna will take the stage at the annual United Nations climate summit to showcase Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including a national carbon pricing plan and federal-provincial moves to shut down traditional coal-fired power by 2030.

As the minister touts Canada’s record at the UN summit, some critics at home argue the Trudeau government is not living up its lofty rhetoric on climate change. Continue Reading →

TURNING POINTS: 1958 Springhill mining disaster was a bump heard around the world – by Paul W. Bennett (Halifax Chronicle Herald – November 12, 2017)

On Thursday, Oct. 23, 1958, coal mine No. 2 in Springhill experienced a tremendous bump. At around 8:05 p.m. families in the wooden houses around town were huddled around their new TV sets watching I Love Lucy and laughing at the antics of the show’s star, Lucille Ball. Then, all of a sudden, it hit without warning, and for a 15-mile radius the ground shook and the mine caved in, trapping 174 miners far below the surface.

The only working mine left in Springhill, No. 2, was reputed to be the deepest coal mine in operation in North America. From the pit head to the bottom of the mine was a distance of 4,262 metres, or 2.7 miles, straight down. Having first opened in 1873, the mine was old and that meant that mining operations were carried on at great depth below ground.

Pressure had built up on the mine shafts in No. 2 as coal was removed; gas was being released underground and bumps or violent lurches were becoming increasingly common. Some 525 bumps had occurred before this one. Continue Reading →

One of the World’s Biggest Miners Is About to Go Coal-Free – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – November 10, 2017)

Just five years ago it would have been almost unthinkable that one of the world’s biggest mining companies would not dig any coal. It’s now likely to become a reality.

Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest miner, has been steadily backtracking from coal to focus on better assets. It’s now looking for buyers for its remaining coal mines in Australia, and a sale will mark a complete exit from the fuel.

Rio’s potential coal-free future is in stark contrast with many of its rivals. Glencore Plc, the world’s top coal shipper, this year increased its exposure by agreeing to pay $1.1 billion plus royalties for a large stake in Australian assets sold by Rio. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Caution needed over weakness in China’s imports of iron ore, coal – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 9, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 9 (Reuters) – If the sharp drop in China’s iron ore imports in October looks suspicious, it should be viewed in the light of the record high the previous month and a holiday week.

Preliminary commodity import figures released on Wednesday by China’s General Administration of Customs showed iron ore imports for October slumping to 79.5 million tonnes, down a massive 22.7 percent from September’s all-time high of 102.8 million.

October’s imports were the weakest since February 2016, sparking market concern that China’s cuts to steel output over the winter in order to lower pollution were biting far harder, and faster, than initially anticipated. Continue Reading →

[Australia Coal] Even Conservative Queenslanders Hate The Idea Of Adani Getting Government Handouts Anthony Sharwoord (HuffPost Australia – November 8,  2017)

Pay your own way, please. These, as far as we know, were not the exact words Queenslanders used when asked how they feel about $1 billion in taxpayer funds being funnelled to Adani to help the Indian resources giant build its proposed Carmichael coal mine.

But they seem a pretty close approximation of the vibe, if a new poll released this week is anything to go by. And interestingly, coal miners are among those who are most strongly opposed.

The ReachTEL poll, commissioned by the Stop Adani movement, showed that approximately seven out of 10 Queenslanders believe Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did the right thing last weekend when she announced her Labor Government would have “no role in the future” of an assessment of the $1 billion loan to Adani. Continue Reading →

Coal’s Trump Bump Is Over – by Brian Eckhouse and Tim Loh (Bloomberg News – November 8, 2017)

It’s been a year since President Donald Trump’s election and his pledges to transform the energy markets haven’t exactly come to pass.

In fact, what was true under President Barack Obama is still true today: Coal’s share of the power mix is declining, and wind and solar remain the fastest-growing U.S. sources of electricity.

Try as Trump might, economics, not policy, have driven these seismic shifts in the way America uses energy during his first year in office. His second year, though, could prove to be another story. Continue Reading →

[Poland] In the Country Where Coal Is King, a Battle With the EU Looms – by Ewa Krukowska (Bloomberg News – November 6, 2017)

The buzzword in the Brussels energy and climate bubble is 450, a number that is dividing European Union lawmakers and making coal-dependent Poland fume over upcoming reforms to the world’s biggest carbon market.

Negotiators representing the 28-nation bloc and its member states will meet on Nov. 8 to overhaul the Emissions Trading System, the EU’s flagship climate-policy tool to reduce greenhouse gases.

Discussions have stalled over a new modernization fund, with some lawmakers pushing to restrict financing just to utilities that emit less than 450 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour, a move that would make aid unavailable to coal-fired power plants. Continue Reading →

Turkey to make full use of domestic coal to minimize imports (Daily Sabah – November 6, 2017)

To decrease the share of imports, public and private actors in the energy industry have been working to diversify the energy basket and increase the utilization of domestic sources. To that end, the country has launched a road map to transform and modernize thermal plants and increase coal efficiency led by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak.

Thus, the energy basket will be diversified with renewables, maximizing the utilization of domestic coal resources in the most efficient way and boosting employment, Minister Albayrak pointed out.

Speaking at a signing ceremony for the Zetes-Hattat Transformation into Domestic Coal Protocol between Hattat Holding and Eren Holding, two Turkish conglomerates with investments in coal and thermal power plants, Albayrak discussed the current figures concerning Turkish coal mining and the goals for the next couple of years, with emphasis on increasing domestic coal production. Continue Reading →

TRUMP WANTS TO SAVE BIG COAL WITH $11 BILLION ANNUAL BAILOUT – by Nicole Goodkind (Newsweek Magazine – November 2, 2017)

The Trump administration wants to force electricity customers to pay for a $10.6 billion annual bailout of the failing coal and nuclear industries through surcharges on their monthly energy bills.

The quietly announced proposal would require ratepayers to fully underwrite a new mandate that coal and nuclear plants hold a minimum of 90 days’ worth of fuel on-site under the false premise of providing security from power outages.

But critics say the subsidy is just a massive government-mandated transfer of wealth from consumers to coal and nuclear companies. “This is like changing the energy system from capitalism to communism—and the U.S. government wants to do it within the next two weeks,” said Michael Krancer, a principal at energy policy company Silent Majority Strategies. Continue Reading →