Archive | Coal

Adani’s $16.5 Billion Aussie Mine Rattled by Tax Deal Delay – by Perry Williams (Bloomberg News – May 24, 2017)

India’s Adani Group could walk away from its $16.5 billion Carmichael coal project in Australia unless a royalties deal can be reached with the state government, according to federal Resources Minister Matthew Canavan.

The Queensland government’s failure to agree the terms of the royalty regime for the mine may jeopardize the development in the state’s Galilee Basin, Canavan said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Adani was due to make a final investment decision on May 29 for the Carmichael mine, but delayed that on Monday citing uncertainty over royalty payments.

Adani’s approval for the project “is contingent on the Queensland government coming to a decision on their royalties policy,” Canavan said. “You can’t expect Adani to make a multi-billion dollar decision if they don’t know what tax they will pay. The ball is now in the Queensland government’s court.” Continue Reading →

[Australia Coal] Adani takes brinkmanship to new levels – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – May 23, 2017)

The circumstances of Adani Group’s very public decision to delay boardroom debate on a final investment decision for the opening stanza of its $16.5 billion, 60-year Carmichael coal campaign would suggest the economics Queensland’s much-vaunted new coal horizon are far more fragile than the potential miner wants us to appreciate.

Either that or we are seeing a very rare level of brinkmanship between Adani and its host governments over the financial mechanics by which the Indian conglomerate might invest in building a massive new mining complex in Queensland’s Galilee Basin and in constructing the railway need to carry Carmichael coal to an Adani-owned export terminal at Abbot Point.

I mean, here we have a coal project proponent that has spent seven years driving through jungles of red and green tape, and more recently through a brutal wilderness of anti-coal resistance, only to belatedly find itself in desperate need for about $1.2 billion of government assistance if the project is to happen. Continue Reading →

REUTERS SUMMIT-Poland will rely on coal for next 15 years -PG Silesia – by Agnieszka Barteczko (Daily Mail/Reuters – May 22, 2017)

WARSAW, May 22 (Reuters) – Poland will remain dependent on coal for the next 15 years due to a lack of alternative energy sources and as trade unions retain their grip on the industry, the head of the country’s biggest private miner, said.

Poland currently generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from burning coal produced by its state-owned mines – a level miner PG Silesia doesn’t see changing any time soon.

“Focusing on coal is the only model in Poland. There is no other way, unless you want to close the economy,” Michal Herman, the head of PG Silesia, said in an interview at the Reuters Central & Eastern Europe Investment Summit. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Coal exporters should fret as China, India become policy-driven markets – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – May 17, 2017)

May 17, 2017 – Coal exporters may be feeling more comfortable about their future as they see both reasonable demand from Asia’s top importers and prices which appear to be stabilising at levels that allow for decent profits.

This renewed optimism was evident at this week’s Coaltrans Asia conference on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, where much of the discussion among delegates at the region’s biggest coal event was on plans for new capital spending and boosting output at existing mines.

But – and there is always a “but” for the coal sector in recent years – the exporting miners have to face the uncomfortable reality that the two biggest importers in the world, China and India, are now markets where policy decisions are the main drivers, not supply and demand fundamentals. Continue Reading →

Ceremony marks 25th anniversary of Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia – by Michael MacDonald (Toronto Star – May 10, 2017)

There were 26 coal miners in the final hours of a four-day shift at the Westray mine in Plymouth, N.S., when a coal seam spit a jet of methane gas that somehow ignited. The explosion killed every man in the mine and tore off the metal roof at the pit entrance.

CANADIAN PRESS – NEW GLASGOW, N.S.—Twenty-five years after she lost her husband to one of Nova Scotia’s worst coal mining disasters, Darlene Dollimont-Svenson still finds it difficult talking about the life they once shared.

“He was a fabulous man, but I don’t know what to say about that because it’s 25 years later and you have all these memories, and one doesn’t really know if the memories are glorified fantasies or reality,” she said, drawing a deep breath and pausing.

Thirty-six-year-old Adonis Dollimont and 25 other miners were in the final hours of a four-day shift at the Westray mine in Plymouth, N.S., when a coal seam spit a jet of methane gas that somehow ignited. Continue Reading →

[Nova Scotia Coal Mining] Westray tragedy to be marked, 25 years later: ‘Pure greed that took lives’ – by Michael MacDonald (Winnipeg Free Press – May 9, 2017)

NEW GLASGOW, N.S. – When the Westray coal mine opened in northern Nova Scotia in 1991, Glenn Martin was lucky enough to land a well-paying job underground that was supposed to last 15 years.

However, he soon learned the mine under Plymouth, N.S., was not a safe place to work. He promised himself he would quit as soon as he had earned enough money to put new siding on his home.

“That mine was a godsend to him,” said his brother, Allen. “He wanted to fix up his house. That was his main goal … But it didn’t take long for him to realize that things were not right.” Continue Reading →

Worker safety still at risk 25 years after Westray tragedy – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – May 6, 2017)

Though tougher laws were passed after the mining disaster, enforcement remains weak.

It was a couple of hours past midnight when Mike Piché walked through the portal to the Westray coal mine. His hard hat didn’t have a head lamp, so it was by flashlight that Piché scanned the surroundings, the sight of cigarette butts, the five-gallon pail lined with a plastic bag and fitted on top with a toilet seat, the coal dust that drifted shin high.

“It’s like stepping in talc,” Piché says of moving through the abundance of black dust that coated the tunnel that April morning, the dust that would explode weeks later, turning the Westray mine into a mortuary for 26 miners, and a permanent sepulchre for 11 of those men.

Piché had been leading an organizing drive for the United Steelworkers that spring 25 years ago. The accounts of production pressures and lax and even nonexistent safety standards at the Nova Scotia mine were legion. He remembers the meeting he had at Roy Feltmate’s place the evening of May 8. Continue Reading →

Miners at disaster site besiege Iranian president’s car (Los Angeles Times – May 7, 2017)

ASSOCIATED PRESS – Angry coal miners besieged a car carrying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday after he visited the site of a deadly mine explosion, a rare protest targeting the nation’s top elected official as he campaigns for reelection.

The miners, some covered in coal soot from searching for fallen comrades still missing in Wednesday’s disaster in Iran’s northern Golestan province, began kicking and banging on the armored SUV carrying Rouhani. Video posted online by the semi-official Fars news agency showed one miner on the SUV’s roof, another jumping up and down and kicking its hood.

“Dear brothers! I beg you wait for a couple of minutes!” someone shouts during the video. Rouhani’s SUV eventually nudges its way through the crowd amid the shouting. Another miner rushes up to kick the back of the vehicle as it speeds away down a hill. Continue Reading →

Memorial to hundreds killed in England’s biggest mining disaster (Yorkshire Post – May 7, 2017)

THE explosion made the ground shake for miles around, and flames erupted from 300 yards below. All around Barnsley – it was just before Christmas – “black snow” and burning wood fell out of the sky.

The apocalyptic scenes of December 1866 claimed 361 lives in England’s worst coal-mining disaster. The Oaks Colliery Disaster, which wrought so much devastation, was remembered yesterday as over a thousand people joined a huge procession, which bought the town to a standstill, for the unveiling of a new memorial.

In a poignant connection with the past, a steam buzzer, used to alert people of a disaster, was sounded before 20 descendants – including a Texan Sir William Jeffock, who bought his family across from the US – stepped forward to unveil the sculpture.  Its centrepiece is “Kitty” whose eyes are fixed directly on the colliery, as her child clings terrified to her shawl. Continue Reading →

Appalachia comes up small in era of giant coal mines – by Bonnie Berkowitz and Tim Meko (Washington Post – May 5, 2017)

As the coal industry is squeezed, the most productive mines employ huge machines and relatively few people.

The average miner underground in West Virginia produces three tons of coal per hour. The average miner at a strip mine in Wyoming produces nearly 28. That is not the fault of the miners but of the mines’ geology. Appalachian coal mines have a size problem.

This is different from the well-documented problems of the industry itself. Yes, cheap natural gas has become the go-to fuel for generating electricity. And pollution regulations have made coal-fired plants less profitable. Exports have waned as China and other countries mine more of their own coal, and renewable options such as wind and solar have become more practical and widely used.

But coal still accounts for 30 percent of the electricity generated in this country. The problem for Appalachia is that when the market is squeezed, its mines often can’t produce as much as the vast strip mines out west, where coal is easier to access and the machines that harvest it can be as big as engineers can build. Continue Reading →

35 Reported Dead In Iran Mine Explosion; Others Remain Trapped – by Laurel Wamsley (National Public Radio – May 4, 2017)

An explosion of methane gas collapsed a coal mine in Iran, killing more than 35 people and trapping others underground, according to Iranian state media. Many of those who died had rushed into help miners who were trapped.

Wednesday’s blast was caused when workers tried to jump-start a locomotive, Reuters reports. IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency, says that according to Labor Minister Ali Rabiei, the blast occurred when workers changed the battery of the locomotive, creating a spark:

“‘There were some technical difficulties with the batteries in the depth of 700 meters and changing the batteries was carried out inside the tunnel rather than outside of it and that triggered the explosion,’ Rabiei said on Thursday.” Continue Reading →

Coal Jobs Prove Lucrative, but Not for Those in the Mines – by Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times – May 2, 2017)

Glenn Kellow, the coal executive who led Peabody Energy through bankruptcy, just collected an estimated $15 million stock bonus. John Eaves at Arch Coal, another recently bankrupt coal giant, got an award valued at $10 million.

The view from the coal pits is far less rosy. An analysis of recent government data shows that the wage gap between the coal industry’s top executives and average coal workers has expanded, while low-end pay has stagnated.

From 2004 to 2016, the average annual wage for chief executives in the coal industry grew as much as five times faster than those of lower-paying jobs in the industry, like construction or truck and tractor operator jobs. Executive pay averaged $200,000, up 60 percent from $125,000, while paychecks for truck and tractor operators rose just 15 percent, to $43,770 from $38,060. Pay for construction jobs in mining rose just 11 percent, to $35,080 from $31,470. Continue Reading →

Death toll in Iran coal mine explosion rises to 35 – by Amir Vahdat (CTV News – May 4, 2017)

The Associated Press – TEHRAN, Iran — A coal mine explosion that struck northern Iran killed at least 35 people, semi-official news agencies reported Thursday, as rescuers worked a second day to reach those trapped inside after the blast.

The Fars, Mehr and Tasnim news agencies all carried similar reports Thursday morning. State media did not immediately report on the rise in the death toll in the disaster Wednesday at the Golestan province mine. In a live broadcast by state television, Sadegh Ali Moghadam, the provincial director general of disaster management, said 22 dead bodies had been recovered.

The province will observe three days of mourning after the explosion, Iranian state television reported. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed deep sorrow over the “heartbreaking” and “disastrous” incident at a coal mine in Golestan province, which claimed the lives of a number of workers and entrapped several others, state TV’s website reported Thursday. Continue Reading →

Casualties reported after Iran coal mine explosion (Al Jazeera – May 3, 2017)

At least 25 people are believed to be trapped in coal mine outside the northern town of Azadshahr, reports say.

A large explosion has struck a coal mine in northern Iran, trapping dozens of miners and killing at least two, according to state media.

Press TV, the English service of Iranian state television, reported that at least two miners had lost their lives and scores of others were wounded in the explosion at the Zemestanyurt mine, about 14km outside the town of Azadshahr.

The blast happened at 12:45pm (09:45 GMT), at a time when workers were changing shifts, according to local media. State news agency IRNA quoted a local official as saying that some of the miners stuck inside may have died. There was confusion about how many might be underground. Continue Reading →

130-years later, historian recounts ‘devastating’ Nanaimo mine explosion – by Ian Holmes (Nanaimo News Now – May 3, 2017)

NANAIMO — The 130th anniversary of a pair of devastating explosions that killed 148 men working in a Nanaimo coal mine is raising memories of the vibrant and extremely dangerous industry. The No. 1 Esplanade Mine, near the current cruise ship terminal, exploded after gas or dust was ignited on May 3, 1887.

The tragedy was the second worst mining disaster in Canada’s history. Vancouver Island coal historian and author T.W. Paterson told NanaimoNewsNOW the tragedy had a massive ripple-effect on Nanaimo, which he said was home to a little more than 2,000 people at that time.

“I liken it to a small nuclear device on a city,” Paterson said. “There would have been not one living soul in Nanaimo at the time who didn’t lose a family member, in-law, workmate or a friend.” Only seven men survived the carnage at the mine, which Paterson said was the largest and longest running operation on Vancouver Island. About 50 of the killed miners were Chinese men who were idenfifed only by numbers. Continue Reading →