Archive | Coal

Searching for ‘black diamonds’ in the treacherous conditions of India’s ‘capital of coal’ – by Kenneth Dickerman and Sebastian Sardi (Washington Post – November 14, 2018)

In 2008, Swedish photographer Sebastian Sardi read an article about how mining-related deaths and injuries are often covered up by the various authorities who oversee such operations. Sardi was 25 at the time and had turned to photography three years earlier.

He had yet to pursue formal training as a photographer, but his interest was piqued, and he began photographing mines. Eventually, Sardi traveled to northern India’s Jharkhand state to photograph people working in Dhanbad, which many have dubbed the “capital of coal.” The resulting photos formed Sardi’s project “Black Diamond.”

When Sardi arrived in Dhanbad, he discovered people whose lives revolve around extracting coal. He photographed the men, women and even children living and working in the toughest of conditions. Sardi, in his upcoming book, describes the scene he came upon: Continue Reading →

Coalition forms to reclaim abandoned coal mine lands across Appalachia and rebirth them – by Jake Flatley (West Virginia Metro News – November 14, 2018)

BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. — In an effort to clean up abandoned coal mine lands and give them new life, a coalition of groups in the Appalachian region has formed.

20 former coal sites stretching across four states were mentioned in the report authored by the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition, “Many Voices, Many Solutions: Innovative Mine Reclamation in Central Appalachia.” A highlight in the report of the sites is a mixed agriculture and renewable energy project proposed on a former strip mine in Boone County.

“We are trying to find ways to not necessarily reinvent the wheel but take what we see as best practices in different areas that would be applicable in different sites such as abandon land mine sites,” Jacob Hannah, Conservation Coordinator with Coalfield Development Corporation, said. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: At U.N. climate talks, Trump team plans sideshow on coal – by Timothy Gardner (Reuters U.S. – November 15, 2018)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration plans to set up a side-event promoting fossil fuels at the annual U.N. climate talks next month, repeating a strategy that infuriated global-warming activists during last year’s talks, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

As with the 2017 gathering in Bonn, Germany, the administration plans to highlight the benefits of technologies that more efficiently burn fuels including coal, the sources said.

This year’s talks in Katowice, Poland – located in a mining region that is among the most polluted in Europe – are intended to hammer out a rule book to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, which set a sweeping goal of ending the fossil-fuel era this century by spurring a trillion-dollar transition to cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power. Continue Reading →

The uncertain future of U.S. coal communities – by Sandeep Pai and Hisham Zerriffi (The Conversation – November 11, 2018)

At a town hall meeting in Ohio in March 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said: “…I’m the only candidate who has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?”

This statement, she later admitted in her book What Happened, was her biggest regret from the campaign trail. The reason? Coal workers and communities in the United States overwhelmingly supported the rise of Donald Trump because he promised to bring back coal jobs, while Clinton had pledged new jobs and new economic investments in coal communities using clean energy.

Four key coal-producing states — Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania — collectively produce more than two-thirds of U.S. coal. In 2016, Trump received more than 30 per cent more votes than Clinton in three of those states. He also won the fourth, Pennsylvania, just not by as much. Continue Reading →

Queensland mine laws would leave more than 200 voids across the state – by Ben Smee (The Guardian – November 13, 2018)

Mine rehabilitation laws expected to be passed by the Queensland parliament this week would allow coalminers to leave more than 200 voids as pockmarks on the state’s landscape.

In recent days the mining sector, in a campaign backed by both the Queensland Resources Council and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, has piled pressure on the government to delay the legislation and ensure new regulations would not be retrospective.

The laws would place additional requirements on newly approved mines, requiring areas such as voids and waste ponds to be rehabilitated in most cases. But the state has repeatedly said those laws would not be applied to existing mines or rescind previously approved environmental management plans. Continue Reading →

Tata Steel comes shopping for coal security – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – November 6, 2018)

Having failed very recently to acquire the security blanket of Australian metallurgical coal mines, global steel giant Tata Steel is promoting the need for a forum with Australian governments and miners to more productively align the central Queensland coal system with India’s surging raw materials needs.

An executive delegation from Tata, led by relatively new chief executive TV Narendran, landed in Brisbane on Monday with proposals that aim to take its relationship with Australian suppliers to a new level, moving it from its currently transactional standing to something more symbiotic.

It is understood that Tata management continues to investigate its ownership options in Australian coal after recent efforts to acquire projects or buy into joint ventures have come to nought. As one source told The Australian Financial Review, Tata has either been “outbid or beaten to the punch” in a number of recent sale processes. Continue Reading →

Mining in India’s Bundelkhand causes drought and destruction – by Inder Singh Bisht (Asia Times – November 7, 2018)

Spread across 13 districts in the neighboring Indian states Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Bundelkhand region has suffered from drought for over a decade. This has caused an exodus by the majority of its working population who have left to seek a living in other parts of the country.

With agriculture starved by the drought and an absence of alternative industries, mining is one of the few sectors that provides a semblance of regular income to locals. This helps keep a lid on popular opposition to mining activities in the area, even when the industy is also a major cause of environmental degradation and disease in the region.

Silicosis, a form of lung disease caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust, is common among people who work in mines or live near stone-crushing plants. Continue Reading →

The parallel universes of thermal coal – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – November 4, 2018)

The parallel universes of thermal coal have rarely been in more confounding focus. In one cosmos we have arguably the most financially literate of the anti-fossil-fuel lobby, the IEEFA, mounting an apparently data-filled argument that the home of Australian thermal coal, the Hunter Valley, is now on track to “terminal decline as markets transition away from coal”.

Then, in a galaxy far, far away, there is Glencore, which over two years has spent $US3.4 billion ($4.7 billion) adding thermal and coking coal projects to what was already Australia’s single biggest coal mining business.

On the very same day last week that the IEEFA called out a tipping point in the decline and fall of coal, Glencore offered up a similarly data-fuelled prediction that coal demand in Asia was actually set to double by 2040 and that demand for the quantities and qualities of the little black rock that only Australia can produce would rise disproportionately to the general growth curve. Continue Reading →

Fayette County: Old coal mining hub continues to be haunted by ghosts – by Taylor Neuman (CBS Fox – October 30, 2018)

WHIPPLE, WV (WVNS) – What is now a historical museum, was once the center of a coal mining community in the heart of Whipple, Fayette County. In the late 1800’s, the Whipple Company Store was a one-stop-shop, with everything from food to healthcare. Life was not easy back then and the stories that have been preserved within this store reflect just that.

Coal was everything during this time; a main source of income for many. In fact, any threat to their way of life met its match, and sometimes in the most brutal ways. Beatings and murders in plain sight, and there was nothing the community could do about it because the coal mining companies controlled everything.

According to local ghost hunter, Chris Colin, people were forced into situations they had no choice but which to agree. Continue Reading →

FEATURE-Villagers lose homes, land to feed India’s booming power sector – by Megha Bahree (Thomson Reuters Foundation – October 29, 2018)

PIDARWAH, India, Oct 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – S iyaram Saket refuses to give up his one-and-a-half acres of farmland in central India – no matter how much the coal mining company offers him.

Whatever the amount, said the 55-year-old, it will not be enough to replace the value of the fertile land feeding his family of six in Pidarwah village, Singrauli district.

He knows of people in nearby villages who moved on the promise by the government and power companies of money, jobs or homes in exchange for their land a decade ago. Now homeless, they are still waiting for compensation, he said. Continue Reading →

Spain to close most coalmines in €250m transition deal – by Arthure Neslen (The Guardian – October 26, 2018)

Spain is to shut down most of its coalmines by the end of the year after government and unions struck a deal that will mean €250m (£221m) will be invested in mining regions over the next decade.

Pedro Sánchez’s new leftwing administration has moved quickly on environmental policy, abolishing a controversial “sunshine tax” on the solar industry, and announcing the launch of Spain’s long-delayed national climate plan next month.

Unions hailed the mining deal – which covers Spain’s privately owned pits – as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries. Continue Reading →

John O’Donnell, director of Cape Breton choir Men of the Deeps, dies at age 83 – by Michael Tutton (Canadian Press/Toronto Star – October 26, 2018)

A musician and teacher who served for 50 years as director of the well-known Cape Breton choir Men of the Deeps is being remembered for preserving the culture of coal miners through song. John (Jack) O’Donnell died Thursday in Antigonish, N.S., surrounded by family. He was 83.

Former miners who sang for him say while O’Donnell was trained in piano and Gregorian chant, he was also a down-to-earth leader who gained a passion for collecting and arranging songs about the lives of the soot-covered men who made their living underground.

Longtime choir member Stan (Nipper) MacLeod, 66, said many of the choir’s members had sung in church and around campfires, but O’Donnell taught them to sing in four-part harmonies that captivated audiences around the world. Continue Reading →

Blood coal: Ireland’s dirty secret – by Noel Healy (The Guardian – October 25, 2018)

Burning coal is the single largest contributor to global climate breakdown. Human rights violations at the sites of fossil fuel extraction are often hidden.

The connections between County Clare, Ireland and La Guajira, Colombia may not be entirely obvious at first glance. Yet the regions are linked through a shared commodity: coal. Extracted in one region and burned in the other.

Coal extraction in La Guajira has a dirty secret, which I’ve witnessed first-hand: it is connected to a system of production entrenched in violence, bloodshed and environmental destruction.

Since 2001, almost 90% of coal burned at Moneypoint power station in County Clare in the west of Ireland has come from Colombia. Two-thirds of it was purchased from Cerrejón mine in Colombia’s northern department of La Guajira. Continue Reading →

Teck Resources profit slumps as prices drop, costs climb – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.K. – October 25, 2018)

TORONTO (Reuters) – Diversified miner Teck Resources Ltd, the world’s second-biggest exporter of steel-making coal, reported lower-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Thursday, hit by declining commodity prices and higher costs.

A number of one-time events also weighed on the quarter, including delayed zinc sales and higher costs at the Trail smelter due to forest fire smoke, adding up to C$58 million ($44.39 million), TD Securities analyst Greg Barnes said in a note.

Strong steel-making coal sales in the quarter would have “significantly” exceeded Teck’s forecast of 6.8 million tonnes, the company said, but logistics issues at Westshore Terminals delayed delivery of approximately 250,000 tonnes of the material, worth some C$55 million in revenue. Continue Reading →

Coal Is Not A Commodity. It’s A Core Value To Appalachian Communities – by Ken Silverstein (Forbes Magazine – October 21, 2018)

You can make a difference. But you can’t do it behind a barricade. Constituents must have access to their elected leaders, requiring candidates to beat the pavement and to understand what makes their fellow citizens tick.

That’s why Kendra Fershee is running for Congress, a Democrat from West Virginia’s 1st District — the one that covers the northern part of the state. She is from Michigan. But she is now a die-hard West Virginian and a Mountaineer. She is also a West Virginia University law school professor, along with her husband. With a focus on energy, she’s an academician who never set out to be a politician — just someone who is determined to give the state a “pay raise.”

In the primary, she was outspent 6-to-1, knocking off a high-profile candidate representing an international law firm. She is confident she can do the same to the incumbent, Rep. David McKinley, who now represents the district — the one who refuses to debate her. Continue Reading →