In ironic twist, drive for clean energy creates Asian coal boom – by Shotaro Tani (Nikkei Asian Review – July 9, 2018)

Public outcry over dirty fuel overshadowed by power needs of growing economies

JAKARTA — Coal, one of the world’s most polarizing commodities, has now become an Asian irony. Efforts to curb use of the so-called black diamond in the West have been a boon for coal companies in the East, more so now that the benchmark price for thermal coal exceeded $120 per ton in July, the highest since 2012.

No one was surprised in March when Tambang Batubara Bukit Asam, one of Indonesia’s largest coal producer, posted a 123% year-on-year jump in net profit to 4.4 trillion rupiah( $325 million) for the period ended December. That was because only a week prior to the results, Adaro Energy, the country’s second-largest coal miner, posted a 45% surge in net profits to $483 million.

The common denominator for both companies was rising coal prices. “The revenue increase is a result of continued efforts by the corporate management … amid improving global coal prices,” said Bukit Asam, while Adaro noted, “2017 was a good year for Adaro Energy … within the more supportive coal sector.”

Bukit Asam is reported to be mulling acquisition of a new mine, while Adaro said that “if a good opportunity arise, we will look into” acquiring new coal assets. And they are not the only ones.

ABM Investama, an Indonesian-based investment company that focuses on the energy sector, has set aside $500 million for acquiring new mining areas. State power utility PLN is reportedly in the process of acquiring eight mines in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

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