Archive | Coal

Mining industry, environmental groups watch as Canada plans new coal effluent rules – by Paul Withers (CBC News Nova Scotia – February 22, 2017)

Environment and Climate Change Canada is considering plans to impose new effluent limits that would reduce harmful discharges from coal mining by 2019.

Ottawa’s proposal would require new coal mines to collect and monitor all effluent through a final discharge point where it would have to meet new limits for suspended solids, nitrates and a toxic byproduct called selenium.

For existing mines, effluent limits would be monitored after discharge into the environment. The department held its first stakeholder consultation in Nova Scotia on Wednesday. More meetings are scheduled for Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in coming weeks. Continue Reading →

China Mulls Resuming Coal Output Curbs for Six Months (Bloomberg News – February 15, 2017)

China may not be done trying to manage coal prices. The world’s biggest producer and consumer is considering reinstating output restrictions to avoid the return of a glut after it eased limits during winter, according to people with knowledge of the plan.

The National Development and Reform Commission may resume curbs that cap output at an equivalent of 276 days of capacity after heating season ends in mid-March, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

The NDRC, the nation’s top planner, didn’t respond to a faxed request for comment and nobody answered calls to its press office Wednesday. China sent coal prices and mining shares on a tear last year after President Xi Jinping’s government imposed output restrictions aimed at easing an oversupply and supporting indebted miners. Continue Reading →

From Appalachia To Standing Rock, Water Is Life – by Mary Anne Hitt (Huffington Post – February 13, 2017)

Mary Anne Hitt is director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

I live in West Virginia, one of the states where residents can now expect more toxic coal pollution in our streams and rivers thanks to a repeal of mining safeguards by the Republican-controlled Congress.

A few short days after that disastrous decision, the White House cancelled an environmental review and then approved the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline, which threatens the drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux and millions more people downstream.

The Standing Rock Sioux have long opposed the Dakota Access pipeline because of the risk to drinking water, and this week’s decision was one more painful demonstration of how quickly some political leaders will put profits over public health and tribal sovereignty. Continue Reading →

Teck profit climbs on higher coal prices; demand cooling – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – February 15, 2017)

TORONTO – Canadian miner Teck Resources Ltd reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, lifted by a surge in the price of coal for steelmaking, but said weaker demand in recent weeks was eroding prices and sales.

Teck, the largest producer of steelmaking, or coking, coal in North America, said customers appear to be drawing down inventories following a fourth-quarter buying binge, sparked by global supply worries that were ultimately unfounded. The Chinese New Year holidays also crimped demand.

Shares of the Vancouver-based company, which also mines copper, gold and silver, were down 4.3 percent at C$31.27 in early trading. Teck forecast steelmaking coal sales of approximately 6 million tonnes in the first quarter, down from 7.3 million tonnes in the fourth quarter. Continue Reading →

Regulation isn’t killing Trump’s ‘clean, beautiful coal,’ the economy is – by Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – February 13, 2017)

OTTAWA — Among President Donald Trump’s schemes to restore U.S. economic greatness perhaps none is more misguided than his pledge to put coal miners back to work.

“We will unleash the full power of American energy, ending job-killing restrictions on shale oil, natural gas and clean, beautiful coal,” Mr. Trump told congressional Republicans at their recent annual retreat in Philadelphia.
Lawmakers cheered. “And we are going to put our coal miners back to work,” he added. The applause grew louder. Good luck with that. Coal isn’t clean, it isn’t beautiful, and most compellingly, it is not economic.

Powerful market forces – more so than the “job-killing” regulations Mr. Trump rails about – are unstoppably pushing the sooty fuel and its workers to extinction. And no rational economic policies will bring those jobs back. Continue Reading →

Why Trudeau’s economic policies are disastrous in the era of Trump – by Gwyn Morgan (Globe and Mail – February 13, 2017)

Gwyn Morgan is the retired founder and CEO of Encana Corp. He has been a director of five global corporations.

“But the reality is that virtually all of Mr. Trudeau’s policies
are economically suicidal in the face of Mr. Trump’s avowed actions.
Clinging to those policies in the face of Trump-quake could prove
to be the biggest mistake made by any prime minister in Canadian

Donald Trump’s election victory set off a political earthquake that has deeply shaken Americans. Earthquakes are often followed by devastating tsunamis generating huge waves travelling far beyond the quake’s epicentre. Yet, even as those “Trump-quake” waves threaten to sink our economic ship, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems determined to maintain his pre-quake course.

Here are some of the dangerous shoals that lurk along that perilous route:

Mr. Trump is anti-free trade. His advisers have said that Canada isn’t their target. Even if that’s true, the recent decision by General Motors to move 600 jobs to Mexico demonstrates that Mr. Trump’s protectionist bullets can ricochet across our border. Given his bombastic threats, there’s no way auto makers will move jobs from the United States to Mexico, so their only option is to move those jobs from Canada. Continue Reading →

ANALYSIS-As coal shortfall looms, miners enjoy unexpected boom – by Henning Gloystein (Reuters U.K. – February 9, 2017)

SINGAPORE, Feb 10 Many a swan song has been sung for thermal coal markets as renewable power generation and a push towards using more natural gas have gained traction. Yet a coal price spike last year, driven by a Chinese change in regulation that capped local mining operations, has shown how easily markets can swing from oversupply to shortfall.

While many analysts and investors see the long-term outlook for coal as bleak due to policies and technological advances that favour cleaner natural gas and renewable in power generation, the shorter-term outlook for the industry has seen a sharp reversal of fortunes.

This year, strong demand growth in Asia’s emerging markets will create a supply shortfall for the first time in at least half a decade. Consumption could even soon rise past the 2014 peak, according to Asia’s largest commodity trading house, Noble Group. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Trump’s job promises won’t help struggling coal counties – by Alison Stine (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2017)

I watched the mountains, what was left of them, during soccer practice. While my son tumbled on a field with other five-year-olds, I cast my eyes across the river, where the hills were a pale brown with deep gorges and no trees: foothills with flat, bulldozed tops.

Two hundred years ago, my home in rural, Southeastern Ohio contained some of the county’s largest coal deposits. Three billion tons of coal was pulled from the ground in the state mostly by hand, loaded and shipped across the country via train and canals. Towns sprung up around coal, populated by miners who shopped at company stores, who were paid by the ton, and who often only saw daylight on Sundays.

The small towns and villages of my Appalachian county were called the little cities of black diamonds. Such was the value of coal, as precious as gems. Coal paid for towns. Coal paid for schools. Coal built the Tecumseh Theater in Shawnee, the Marietta and Pittsburgh Railroad. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto gears up for $2bn Queensland mine sales – by Bridget Carter and Scott Murdoch (The Australian – February 10, 2017)

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is believed to be hiring Bank of America Merrill Lynch to sell its Queensland coking coal assets that are estimated to be worth about $2 billion.

BAML was the bank that was hired by Anglo American to sell its Moranbah North and Grosvenor mines in the state for at least $1bn to private equity firm Apollo before the vendor changed its mind and the deal collapsed.

Both Rio and BAML have declined to comment, but it is understood that BAML will be formally mandated in the weeks ahead once the Moranbah sale is officially off. Up for sale by Rio is its Hail Creek Mine, 120km southwest of Mackay in central Queensland, which supplies international markets with hard coking and thermal coal. Continue Reading →

American Coal Has New Playbook to Dig Itself Out – by Tim Loh (Bloomberg News – February 7, 2017)

Boosted by higher prices and presidential promises of aid, U.S. coal is having a comeback season. Yet a looming quandary remains: Demand continues to shrink.

In the boom-bust cycles of old, the fuel’s use grew relentlessly as a fleet of coal-fired power plants fed America’s hunger for electricity. Now, a new age of clean, cheap natural gas and renewables has emerged, thanks to the shale boom and fears of global warming. That’s led to almost 50 gigawatts of coal-fired generating capacity being shut down since 2012, enough to power New York and Vermont combined. And no new coal plants are being built.

In the past decade, six major suppliers have gone bankrupt, some more than once. Now, some producers say they’re remaking their playbooks to survive in a dwindling market. High rates of return and credit ratings are seen as more key to the future than boosting production. Continue Reading →

BHP drives the next tectonic shift in Australian coal – by Matthew Stevens(Australian Financial Review – February 6, 2017)

Two weeks ago BHP Billiton rolled a dump truck driving simulator into a recruitment office in Townsville. While this is but a modest technical achievement, the training facility represents another important milestone in the changing the demographics of the Australian coal industry.

BHP operates two mining joint ventures in Queensland and it is the bigger of them – the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance – that irritated the coal unions by turning on this new training kit.

The bone of contention here is that BMA has identified Townsville as a new source of workers ostensibly, but not exclusively, for its Saraji mine. The plan is to employ upwards of 100 new fly-in, fly out workers through labour hire firms. They will, initially at least, drive the trucks and shovels that move the overburden at Saraji. They might eventually become a sort of truck and shovel driving flying squad who can be deployed anywhere around the BMA fleet. Continue Reading →

Northeast B.C. mining restarts stall because CN Rail hasn’t maintained tracks for shipping coal – by Andrew Kurjata (CBC News British Columbia – February 06, 2017)

Tumbler Ridge mayor says community is being ‘held hostage’ by CN

Coal mines are restarting in Tumbler Ridge, but companies can’t ship to market because train lines maintained by CN Rail have fallen into disrepair. Mayor Don McPherson says it appears the railway stopped looking after the track sometime in 2015 after the community’s last coal mine shut down.

“I guess the board of directors for CN Rail decided that they didn’t need to maintain the rail line,” he said. “It came as a surprise to me.” The discovery comes as there is renewed interest in coal from the northeast B.C. community.

Last year, Conuma Coal purchased three of the mines and announced plans to rehire many of the 700 people who lost their jobs two years ago.The Brûlé mine, which ships coal by truck to a nearby rail facility, is already operational. Continue Reading →

Senate Votes to Reverse Obama-Era Coal Rule, Sends to Trump – by Ari Natter and Catherine Traywick (Bloomberg News – February 3, 2017)

Republicans in Washington took their biggest step yet to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory legacy, dusting off a little-used congressional tool and voting to kill a rule aimed at protecting streams from the effects of coal mining.

With the Senate following the House in voting for the measure, President Donald Trump is now poised to be the first president in 16 years to sign a regulatory repeal resolution. It will be only the second rule overturned by the Congressional Review Act — and for Republicans it’s just a start. They have a long queue of other rules they want to repeal the same way.

“A lot of the talk of the election is now going into action,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said on the Senate floor before the vote. She called the coal-mining rule a “last minute power grab aimed at giving more power to the federal government.” Continue Reading →

EDITORIAL: Liberal hot air on coal plants shutdown (Toronto Sun – January 21, 2017)

It’s obvious why Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government was anxious to discredit a report by the Fraser Institute last week that Ontario’s closure of its five coal-fired electricity plants did not significantly improve provincial air quality.

That decision cost Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars and helped to send electricity rates skyrocketing, because coal is a cheap form of energy.

The problem for the Liberals is that if the report by economists Ross McKitrick and Elmira Aliakbari is accurate, it discredits the Liberals’ claim their closure of the coal plants saved taxpayers $3 billion a year in health costs, $4.4 billion when environmental costs are added in.

The Liberals have always claimed closing Ontario’s coal plants has saved thousands of lives and prevented thousands of hospitalizations due to pollution. Continue Reading →

Republicans take first steps to kill Obama-era regulations – by Lisa Lambert(Reuters U.S. – January 30, 2017)

WASHINGTON – Republicans on Monday continued their drive to loosen U.S. regulation, taking the first step to kill five Obama-era rules on corruption, the environment, labor and guns under the virtually untested Congressional Review Act.

The House Rules Committee sent to the full chamber three regulations enacted under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to ax. They were the Stream Protection Rule, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “resource extraction rule,” and one on gun buying.

Republicans put as much urgency on limiting what they consider over-regulation that stifles economic growth as they do on overhauling the tax code and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Continue Reading →