Archive | Coal

A tale of two western coal mining towns – by Bill Graveland (Waterloo Record – January 12, 2017)

The Canadian Press – HANNA, Alta. — The hand-painted sign on a bumpy road on the east side of Hanna speaks volumes. “Hanna supports coal, cows, gas and oil,” it says bluntly. The sign includes a circle with a line through it over the words “carbon tax.”

The town of 2,700, 230 kilometres northeast of Calgary, like many rural Alberta communities, has largely lived off agriculture. But a large vein of thermal coal east of town led to the construction of the coal-fired Sheerness generating plant in the early 1980s and has provided welcome jobs and business in the region ever since.

People worry that economic boost is threatened by a new carbon levy and the provincial government’s plan to shut down coal-fired power plant by 2030 and move exclusively to natural gas, wind, solar and hydro energy instead. Continue Reading →

Coal Recovery Too Good to Resist for World’s Biggest Shipper – by Fitri Wulandari and Eko Listiyorini (Bloomberg News – January 13, 2017)

Indonesia will exceed its coal production target for another year as miners cash in after prices recovered from a five-year collapse.

The world’s biggest exporter will produce about 489 million metric tons this year, 18 percent above the government-mandated target, according to energy ministry forecasts. That’s up from last year’s output estimated at 434 million tons and would be at least the third year in a row that the nation has produced more than it planned.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has been trying to cap its coal output in an attempt to preserve resources for future generations of Indonesians. That’s proving a challenge as resurgent prices tempt producers to maximize output from new and existing mines to meet demand at home and abroad. Continue Reading →

McConnell Outlines Environmental Wish-List for Trump Action (New York Times – January 10, 2017)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – WASHINGTON — The top Republican in the Senate outlined a series of actions he hopes President-elect Donald Trump will take to overturn environmental regulations imposed by President Barack Obama, including a rule to protect streams from coal-mining debris.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged Trump in a letter to scrap a rule to protect small streams and wetlands from development and other regulations that the GOP considers overly burdensome. He also asked Trump to drop a legal defense of the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature effort to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The plan, the linchpin of Obama’s strategy to fight climate change, is on hold awaiting a court ruling. In a Jan. 4 letter to the president-elect, McConnell said Trump “inspired the American people with your vision of less regulation, free and fair competition and enhanced job opportunities.” Continue Reading →

Can West Virginia’s New Governor Save Coal Country? – by Paul Barrett (Bloomberg News – January 10, 2017)

Jim Justice—6 feet 7 inches, 375 pounds, rumpled in the extreme—has the friendly, shambling demeanor of a high school basketball coach, which he’s been for decades. He’s also the richest man in West Virginia, with holdings in coal, timber, and tourism.

This year he decided to run for governor—his second race for political office after a successful bid 17 years ago for a county school board seat. He ran as a Democrat, but kept his distance from Hillary Clinton and boasted of his friendship with Donald Trump.

Justice and Trump have similarities beyond their reputations as iconoclastic billionaires: Both own real estate that’s part of an intricate web of businesses run with assistance from adult children. Both refused to disclose their tax returns. And both vowed they’d somehow revive West Virginia’s slumping coal industry. Continue Reading →

Coalition backs $100bn growth plan for coal industry – by David Crowe (The Australian – January 5, 2017)

The federal government is backing a $100 billion investment target to expand the Australian coal industry as it blasts the “hypocrisy” of environmentalists who want to halt new mines, escalating a fight over attempts to mandate more solar and wind power.

Aiming to open up vast new deposits for export, the government is mobilising against warnings about the “end of coal” as it considers a $1bn loan for the Adani mine in central Queensland on the condition the cash will help further projects.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan told The Australian it would be hypocritical to stop coal production or exports on the grounds that developing nations should not use fossil fuels to drive their economic growth. Continue Reading →

After Jharkhand toll, 2016 one of deadliest years for mine workers – by Anil Sasi (Indian Express – January 3, 2017)

Eastern Coalfields, where the latest accident has taken place, is a subsidiary of State-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), the world’s largest coal miner.

Thursday night’s mine collapse at Eastern Coalfields Ltd’s Lal Matia coal mine in Jharkhand rounds up one of the deadliest years for those toiling deep in the bowels of the earth.

The 17 mine worker deaths reported till January 1 sharply push up the mining fatality count for this year, which stood at 65 across both coal and non-coal mines during just the first six months of this year, for which latest data is available — translating into a fatality every three days. More than a dozen workers remain trapped.

In a sector whose safety record is far from inspiring, at least 122 people more were documented to have met with a serious accident during this period, which translates into a serious accident every one and a half days. With a fatal accident every three days, mining is arguably the most dangerous profession in India, alongside ship-breaking. Continue Reading →

Tumbler Ridge to ring in new year with return of mining jobs – by Andrew Kurjata (CBC News B.C. – December 29, 2016)

Second coal mine restarting prompts hiring of 220 more people

Ami Strang was working as a lab technician at the Wolverine coal mine in Tumbler Ridge when it was shut down in April 2014. “I moved back in with my parents, I put all my stuff back in storage,” she said. She later found work in Fort McMurray, but it involved being away from home for long stretches of time.

“Luckily for me I’m single and don’t have any kids,” she said. “I know a lot of families here whose dads are gone to camp and aren’t home very often. So it was very hard on the community.”

Strang was one of more than 700 Tumbler Ridge residents to lose their jobs in 2014 and 2015 as dropping demand for coal led to a series of mine closures in the community of just under 3,000 people. “We went to work one day and found out we weren’t working,” Strang recalled. “It was pretty rough.” Continue Reading →

Black Lung, Incurable and Fatal, Stalks Coal Miners Anew – Editorial (New York Times – December 24, 2016)

Appalachian health officials report a shocking rise in cases of black lung — the deadly coal-mining disease thought to have been reined in by a landmark federal law passed in 1969.

Young miners are proving particularly vulnerable because the thinner coal seams now being worked in Appalachia leave them vulnerable to a more volatile black lung strain rooted in silica dust, according to an investigative report by National Public Radio.

The emergence of a new generation of miners gasping for their lives should give President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to revive the industry, reason to reflect on a safer course for the very workers he claimed to prize as a candidate. There is no known cure for black lung, a wearying disease responsible for 78,000 deaths since 1968. Continue Reading →

Challenge 2017: What’s next for forgotten coal towns like Alberta’s Forestburg as plug pulled on industry – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – December 24, 2016)

For a village of 831 on the gentle plains of East Central Alberta, Forestburg is shouldering a disproportionate cost of Alberta’s — and Canada’s — greenhouse gas reduction ambitions.

Coal has been Forestburg’s lifeblood for a century and been central to the village’s two major economic transitions. The first brought unprecedented prosperity when the coal industry arrived in the mid-1950s. The second, unfolding today, could take it all away as governments phase coal power out by 2030 to transition to greener energy.

The powers in Edmonton and Ottawa may think 13 years is a long time to build new industry, but in Forestburg, located 300 kilometres northeast of Calgary, the blows have already started, and they’ve been harsh. Continue Reading →

Coal Traders See End of Price Rally as China Ramps Up Output – by Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova (Bloomberg News – December 21, 2016)

Coal’s recovery was one of the biggest surprises in commodities this year, but it’s all poised to end as output rises from China, producer of half the world’s supply.

After half a decade of declines, European prices rebounded more than 80 percent as China, also the world’s biggest consumer of the fuel, boosted imports. Benchmark month-ahead contracts will fall by more than 25 percent by the end of next year, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts and traders.

Just as Chinese policy limiting mining days kick-started the rally, a gradual boost in domestic output during autumn will accelerate a slide, according to analysts. Once seasonal winter demand in the northern hemisphere is over, China will need less imports at the same time as abundant output by other producers will keep a lid on prices from Australia to Antwerp. Continue Reading →

Commodity forecasting is a guessing game on China, Trump, OPEC – by Clyde Russell (Daily Mail/Reuters – December 21, 2016)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 21 (Reuters) – It’s that time of year when crystal balls get taken out and polished up, but forecasting commodity markets for 2017 is less certain than usual given the unpredictability of the three main likely drivers.

After a largely stellar year in 2016, the outlook for major commodities is likely to come down to the actions of Donald Trump, the Chinese government and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Note the word “actions” in the above paragraph, as what these three players actually do will ultimately have a far larger bearing than what they say they are going to do. Take China for example. This year saw most analysts surprised by the strength of both China’s coal and iron ore imports, which led to rallies in the prices of both commodities. Continue Reading →

Short View: Trump’s coal hard truths – by Alan Livsey (Financial Times – December 21, 2016)

Donald Trump’s holiday gift season actually starts in January, the 20th to be exact. From then he must deliver on all the promises he made in his presidential campaign over the past year or so.

One of those promises was to hand out sacks of coal, not to the bad kids, but ideally to every American. Get everyone using more coal: stop this fad for renewable energy, and keep the Environmental Protection Agency in check over clean-air regulations that reduce demand for coal.

Produce more coal and the miners in states such as West Virginia can get their jobs back, the thinking goes. That state has suffered the brunt of job cuts in that sector. Continue Reading →

Obama Sets Up Water Clash With Mining Rule Trump Opposes – by Ari Natter (Bloomberg News – December 19, 2016)

The Obama administration issued new regulations to protect streams and groundwater from coal mining, a measure that’s targeted for repeal by congressional Republicans.

The industry says the U.S. Interior Department’s so-called stream protection rule will strand billions of dollars worth of coal in the ground. Even before it was issued Monday, President-elect Donald Trump had vowed to rescind it, calling it “excessive.”

The Interior Department says the rule, which updates 33-year-old regulations, will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests primarily in Appalachia. The rule will end practices that permanently pollute streams and drinking water, requiring companies to restore streams once their mining work is complete and to monitor water quality. Continue Reading →

Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge In Appalachia – by Howard Berkes (National Public Radio – December 15, 2016)

Across Appalachia, coal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found.

The government, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported 99 cases of “complicated” black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, throughout the country the last five years.

But NPR obtained data from 11 black lung clinics in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which reported a total of 962 cases so far this decade. The true number is probably even higher, because some clinics had incomplete records and others declined to provide data. Continue Reading →

Things beginning to look up for Brazilian miner in Mozambique – by Keith Campbell ( – December 15, 2016)

In a recent presentation to the NYSE, Brazilian major mining group Vale reported on progress at its Mozambique operations. These comprise the Moatize coal mine and the Nacala Logistics Corridor. Moatize is primarily a metallurgical, or coking, coal mine, while the Nacala Logistics Corridor is composed of new and refurbished railway lines linking Moatize (and the city of Tete) to the port of Nacala, via Malawi, as well as a coal terminal in that port.

Overall, the group’s Mozambique operations saw their costs and expenses, net of depreciation, fall by 14% during the first nine months of this year, compared with the first nine months of last year. Their adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increased by more 30%, from minus $366-million to minus $247-million over the same periods.

Production Up Again, during the first nine months of this year, Moatize’s production was up 4%, compared with the same period last year. Continue Reading →