Archive | Coal

Hurting for Buyers, U.S. Coal Miners Are Learning to Love India – by Tim Loh and Rajesh Kumar Singh (Bloomberg News – July 11, 2018)

The big bright spot for U.S. coal miners is located halfway around the world. India almost tripled its imports of the rock from America in the first quarter from a year earlier, helping fuel its fast-growing economy and making it the largest foreign buyer of U.S. coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The South Asian nation is extending a lifeline to U.S. miners who are struggling to find buyers at home as cheap natural gas and renewable energy continue to force coal-fired power plants into retirement. Miners are increasingly relying on overseas sales to maintain — or at least slow the decline in — production levels.

The U.S. may export 104 million tons of coal in 2018, up 7.2 percent from a year ago, the EIA forecast in its July Short-Term Energy Outlook published Tuesday. Through April, India had brought in almost 7 million tons, approaching a fifth of all U.S. exports of the fossil fuel. The next largest customers included South Korea, Japan, Brazil and the Netherlands. Continue Reading →

Turkish court jails executives over 2014 mine disaster – by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu (Reuters U.S. – July 11, 2018)

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court sentenced five mining executives to up to 22 years in jail on Wednesday for their role in the coal mine disaster in May 2014 that killed 301 people, the ruling showed.

The deaths were caused by a fire that swept through the mine in the town of Soma, 480 km (300 miles) south of Istanbul. It was Turkey’s worst industrial disaster and the world’s biggest mining disaster this century.

Critics said the accident, which triggered mass protests, showed the government was too close to industry bosses and was insensitive, after Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time and is now president, said the disaster was part of the profession’s “destiny.” Continue Reading →

Four Underground Rescue Efforts That Riveted the World – by Christina Caron and Julia Jacobs (New York Times – July 8, 2018)

After two weeks of huddling in a flooded cave in northern Thailand, several of the 12 boys who were trapped with their soccer coach have been rescued in a harrowing extraction that could take days to complete.

Divers on Sunday began pulling the boys to safety through long, narrow passageways that are challenging for even the most skilled cave divers. With the world watching, the rescue team was racing against rising floodwaters in what has become one of the most engrossing rescue missions in recent years.

Here is a look at other underground rescue attempts — some successful, some not — that have transfixed people around the world.

1975: Indian Mine Explosion Kills Hundreds

A blast at a coal mine in northeast India triggered flooding from a nearby reservoir that killed hundreds of miners. Continue Reading →

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.” Continue Reading →

U.S. coal industry needs ‘fundamental shift’ to fight black lung: report – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – June 28, 2018)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Coal companies need to make a “fundamental shift” in how they control exposure to coal dust in underground mines to address the recent surge in black lung disease rates, according to a federal report released Thursday.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report found that even though coal operators largely comply with recently tightened rules requiring monitoring for coal dust, those measures may not be sufficient.

“There is an urgent need for monitoring and sampling strategies that enable continued, actual progress to be made toward the elimination of diseases associated with coal mine dust exposure,” said Thure Cerling, a biology professor at the University of Utah who helped write the report. Continue Reading →

N.W.T. premier says Tlicho should have known about Fortune Minerals court application – by Richard Gleeson (CBC News North – June 27, 2018)

Bob McLeod defends government’s decision to help settle negotiation over access road to NICO project

The premier of the Northwest Territories says his government did nothing wrong in applying to the courts to settle a negotiation between a mining company and the Tlicho government.

Bob McLeod was responding to the Tlicho government’s suggestion that the territorial government is siding with a junior mining company against the First Nation. “It seems a stretch to me,” he said during an interview Monday. “If you negotiate a process in a land-claim agreement, how can you impute motives? Any project that comes along, are they going to accuse us of siding with a mining proponent?”

Fortune Minerals wants to build a 49-kilometre road from the end of the proposed Tlicho all-season road to its NICO project. According to an affidavit from a government official, Fortune wrote to the government to say its attempt to negotiate an access agreement with the Tlicho to allow construction of the road has stalled. Continue Reading →

‘We are walking a tightrope’: US coal miners worried as Trump’s trade war sees Chinese demand for American coal dropping (South China Morning Post – June 26, 2018)

Beijing has added coal and other energy products to a list of US goods facing retaliatory import tariffs, and Chinese demand has already dampened

US coal mining companies are worried that US President Donald Trump’s intensifying trade dispute with China could hurt their booming export business, one of the ailing sector’s most important lifelines, according to industry players.

This month, Beijing added coal and other energy products to a list of US goods facing import tariffs in retaliation for Trump administration levies. The measure has already dampened Chinese demand for US-mined coal, multiple US and Chinese industry sources said.

For instance, trade sources said China National Building Material International, one of the biggest metallurgical coal importers in China, pulled back from supply talks with US coal broker XCoal and miner Consol Energy shortly after Beijing’s announcement. Continue Reading →

German experts meet to discuss country’s exit from coal use (Tampa Bay Times – June 26, 2018)

Associated Press – BERLIN (AP) — Representatives from German industry, environmental groups and unions met Tuesday in Berlin to discuss how and when the country can stop using coal to generate electricity.

Climate scientists have called for Germany to do more to curb its greenhouse gas emissions, which have stagnated for about a decade. This month, the government was forced to admit it will miss its short-term climate goal by a wide mark .

Coal-fired power plants are a major source of carbon emissions that drive climate change. While Germany has ramped up production of renewable energy, it still depends on coal for over a third of its electricity. Continue Reading →

Glencore Bets on South Africa as Ramaphosa Promises Revival – by Thomas Wilson and Paul Burkhardt (Bloomberg News – June 26, 2018)

Glencore Plc has set its ambitions on expanding in South Africa, the homeland of its chief Ivan Glasenberg.

As the company’s former business partner and new President Cyril Ramaphosa promises an economic recovery, Glencore is reaping profits from coal and chrome assets as prices rise. The company announced in October a $1 billion deal to buy Chevron Corp.’s oil refining and fuel service stations in South Africa and considered a bid for the Optimum coal mine.

The oil bid “was a pretty strong vote of confidence in the South African environment,” said Martin Kingston, the chief executive officer of N.M. Rothschild & Sons Ltd. in South Africa, which is advising Chevron on the sale. “Glencore understands the environment very well. They are effective behind the scenes and they have their finger on the pulse.” Continue Reading →

We built this city with coal mining (Lethbridge Herald – June 26, 2018)

It is accurate to say that without coal, Lethbridge might not be here today. The Blackfoot and other First Nations knew about the coal. A Blackfoot name for the place that would become Lethbridge was sik-ooh-ko-toki or place of the black rocks.

The First Nations had little use for the coal as it could not be burned safely in a teepee, and other fuel sources were readily available. Nicholas Sheran heard about the coal of southern Alberta. Recognizing the need for such a purposeful resource, in 1874 Sheran developed the first commercial coal mine in Alberta.

The location of this mine was on the west bank of the Oldman River, just off the north side of Whoop-Up Drive. Sheran managed a mine there until his death (by drowning) in 1882. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China’s first-half coal imports surge, Indonesia the winner – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 26, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 26 (Reuters) – China’s seaborne coal imports are on track to have surged by around 14 percent in the first half of the year, with Indonesia emerging as the big winner among exporters.

Imports are likely to be around 126.6 million tonnes in the first six months of this year, up from 111.3 million tonnes for the same period in 2017, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts.

It also appears that June may be the strongest month so far this year, with 22.1 million tonnes discharged, or in the process of discharging, as of Tuesday. Continue Reading →

Why reports of coal’s death are greatly exaggerated – by Tim Treadgold ( – June 24, 2018)

As much as it might annoy environmentalists it seems the anti-coal crusade of the past 10 years has produced a perverse result. Global coal consumption is rising, coal prices are edging back towards record territory and coal mining companies are becoming the invisible stars of the resources sector.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that with coal routinely vilified as the environment’s number one enemy. That’s a view accepted by Australian governments and some in Europe — but not in Asia or other regions with emerging economies, such as Africa.

If US writer Samuel Clemens (also known as Mark Twain) was alive today he might even be tempted to say the same thing about coal as he said about himself: “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. In the case of coal’s resurrection there is no end in sight. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Resurgent coal exporters should be wary of blinkered optimism – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 21, 2018)

BRISBANE, June 22 (Reuters) – Coal miners supplying Asia’s rapidly growing economies have plenty to be optimistic about as prices and demand appear robust, but they should be wary of getting caught up in the positive feedback loop that nearly destroyed them before.

This week’s inaugural Energy Mines and Money conference in Brisbane, the heartland of the industry in top coal exporter Australia, was a sea of optimism about the outlook for the industry.

Prices have been on an upward trend since bottoming in 2016 after five years of losses, and miners are once again making good profits amid strong demand from top importers China and India, new consumers such as Pakistan and the reliable veteran buyers like Japan and South Korea. Continue Reading →

Graphic: Asian coal and gas markets roar into top gear as region revs up demand – by Henning Gloystein (Reuters U.S. June 13, 2018)

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Thermal coal and gas prices have coursed into a bull run, propelled by particularly strong demand across Asia, where electricity consumption is surging thanks to healthy economic growth just as seasonal needs rise with the start of summer.

Spot thermal coal cargo prices for export from Australia’s Newcastle terminal last settled at $117 per tonne, the highest level since February 2012. That is up by more than 130 percent from 2016’s record lows.

Coal prices have not just been pushed up by firm demand, which has recovered from 2015 lows, but also by several mine closures and weak investment into capacity expansion. In gas markets, spot prices for Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) are at almost $10 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) – a 2018 high, and up by 145 percent from 2016 troughs. Continue Reading →

England built an empire out of coal. Now it’s giving it up. Why can’t the US? – by Carolyn Beeler ( – June 18, 2018)

England, perhaps more than any other country in the world, was built on coal. The first successful steam engine was invented to pump water out of British coal mines. Coal powered the railroads and ships that built Britain’s empire. It helped the country survive two world wars, and at its height between those wars, coal mines employed 1.2 million people.

So this winter, when the United Kingdom announced its plan to stop burning coal for electricity by 2025, the shift was seismic. The announcement signaled the dethroning of King Coal in a country where it had reigned for more than a century, and where just six years prior it provided more than 40 percent of the nation’s energy.

How did this happen in Britain at a time when leaders in the US were moving in the opposite direction by promising to end the “war on coal”? The answer lies not in technological innovation, but in a profound cultural shift that began decades ago in coal field communities across England. Continue Reading →