Archive | Coal

Statewide View Column: Closing down coal gives China’s, India’s iron industries an edge – by Isaac Orr (Duluth News Tribune – September 16, 2019)

Xcel Energy recently made headlines by announcing it wished to close down its coal-fired power plants 10 years before they were previously scheduled to retire.

However, it would be nothing short of a disaster for Minnesota’s mining industry, both present and future, if Minnesota Power pursued a similar path by closing the coal-fired Boswell Energy Center at a time when China and India are greatly expanding their use of coal.

Mining requires an enormous amount of energy. In fact, the MinnTac mine in Mountain Iron reportedly uses more electricity and natural gas than the entire city of Minneapolis, and only the coal-fired Boswell Energy Center can provide the affordable, reliable, around-the-clock electricity needed to keep Minnesota mines competitive in a global marketplace. Continue Reading →

Botched Bankruptcy Leads to Standoff in Kentucky Coal Country – by Jeremy Hill (Bloomberg News – September 3, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — Anyone approaching the railroad tracks late last month from U.S. Route 119 outside Cumberland, Kentucky, would have seen the mass of pop-up tents, and perhaps the hand-scrawled sign in capital letters, darkened from heavy rain: “COAL OR WORKERS — WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?”

A little more than a mile down the tracks, some 100 CSX Corp. railcars are piled high with coal mined by Blackjewel LLC from the hills of Harlan County. David Pratt Jr., a 29-year-old father of three, is one of more than 200 people who helped dig out that coal and haven’t been paid for it.

That’s why he’s helped block the tracks that lead out of the coal mine south of Cumberland for more than a month. No wages, no coal. “They can’t railroad us,” said Pratt, among about 1,700 people idled across the country after Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 1. Continue Reading →

South Africa Will Rely on Coal for Decades, Key Miner Says – by Paul Burkhardt (Bloomberg News – August 28, 2019)

Seriti Resources Holdings Ltd., poised to become Africa’s second biggest coal producer, is betting that South Africa will rely on coal for decades even as Africa’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases implements carbon taxes and is under pressure to improve air quality.

The most-industrialized economy on the continent will soon release an energy blueprint to outline the sources it will get its power from in the future. The carbon tax, designed to incentivize a move away from the coal that accounts for almost all power generation, could eventually cost state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. about 11.5 billion rand ($751 million) a year.

“When you operate in the coal-mining space the impression created is like you’re an environmental denialist. We are not,” Mike Teke, Seriti’s chief executive officer, said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday. “We operate in a developing economy” where alternatives will need to be phased in gradually, he said. Continue Reading →

NGS coal train operators will miss ‘best job in the world’ – by Krista Allen (Navajo Times – August 22, 2019)

DA’DEESTL’IN HÓTSAA and DZILYÍJIIN, Ariz. – When Thomas Long Jr.’s family asks him what he does for a living, he tells them, “I drive the train.”

“They think I drive a little train,” Long said, “but it’s a big train! It’s the best job in the world and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. That’s what I always say. That’s what we (employees at the Navajo Generating Station) say.”

Long, along with an assistant, operates locomotives on the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad that hauls coal in hopper cars from Peabody Western Coal Company’s Kayenta Mine 78 miles to NGS near Page, Arizona. He works 10-hour shifts. Continue Reading →

The rising cost of ‘social license’? Liberals give away $40M stake in coal terminal to two First Nations – by Jesse Snyder (National Post – August 20, 2019)

OTTAWA — In a highly unusual move, the federal government gifted a $39-million stake in a B.C. coal terminal to two First Nations communities, perhaps signaling the rising cost of winning Indigenous support for natural resource projects.

The Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV) announced in July that it had transferred a 10 per cent stake in the publicly-owned Ridley Terminals facility to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation, whose people reside near Prince Rupert on the northern B.C. coast. Finance officials confirmed there was “no payment associated with that transfer.”

The transfer comes after the two Indigenous groups were set to be major beneficiaries of a liquefied natural gas project that has since been scrapped. Continue Reading →

BHP weighs pullout from coal mining as investors grow greener – by Fumi Matsumoto (Nikkei Asian Review – August 21, 2019)

SYDNEY — BHP Group might sell off coal assets, the mining giant’s chief hinted Tuesday, joining global peers in the move toward environmentally sustainable businesses as retail and institutional investors grow more sensitive to such issues.

“We increasingly have concluded that this is not a business that is going to offer the prospects for growth and would compete for capital … compared to our other businesses,” CEO Andrew Mackenzie said on an earnings call.

And while coal is not going away quickly, “the plentiful supply of energy coal, combined with a somewhat dampening in demand, as it’s going to form a smaller part of the market share going forward, means that this is a less interesting asset than others for us to invest in,” Mackenzie said. Continue Reading →

China provides $1 billion in ‘green’ finance to coal projects in first half of the year – by David Stanway (Reuters U.S. – August 19, 2019)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese financial institutions provided at least $1 billion in “green” financing to coal-related projects in the first half of this year, a review of financial data showed, with fossil fuels still playing a major role in Beijing’s energy strategy.

According to Shanghai-based financial data provider Wind, 7.4 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in green corporate and financial bonds were issued by 13 coal projects in the first half of the year. They involved power plants fueled by coal or coalbed methane as well as coal-to-chemical projects.

Cutting coal and encouraging cleaner forms of energy is a major part of China’s efforts to reduce smog and greenhouse gases. The share of coal in the country’s total energy mix fell to 59% last year, down from 68.5% in 2012, and it aims to cut that share to around 50% by 2030. Continue Reading →

Russia’s Norilsk and S.African coal town Kriel top SO2 emissions hot spots -NASA data ( – August 19, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Russia’s Norilsk smelter complex and a town in South Africa’s eastern coal mining province have the highest sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the world, according to satellite data from U.S. space agency NASA.

The NASA-compiled data published on Monday was commissioned by environmental group Greenpeace India and used the space authority’s satellites to track anthropogenic sulphur dioxide emission hot spots around the world.

Scientists say that excessive exposure to SO2 particles causes long-term respiratory difficulties and stunted growth in infants among other problems. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Coal may be dying, but growth in the seaborne market says not yet – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – August 15, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Aug 15 (Reuters) – The prevailing market view on coal is that the industry is now facing terminal decline, as renewables and natural gas displace the polluting fuel. The problem is the facts don’t quite fit the narrative.

The coal industry can be split into two broad sectors, namely coal mined and burnt domestically, and the seaborne market, where coal is mined and exported to countries that need to import energy.

Of these two, the seaborne market grabs the most attention, as it’s more visible to investors, traders and even environmentalists opposed to coal mining. Continue Reading →

Australia should reduce emissions, coal mining: Pacific leaders – by Colin Packham ( – August 13, 2019)

FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (Reuters) – Australia should do more to reduce its carbon emissions and giving cash to countries battling climate change was not enough, Pacific island leaders said on Tuesday in a rebuke of Canberra’s latest attempt to improve ties with the region.

Australia will give A$500 million ($339 million) to Pacific island nations for renewable energy projects and to help them prepare for the impact of climate change, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday before a trip to the region.

Leaders from the Pacific’s smallest islands, who say rising sea levels are an existential threat to their low-lying nations, said Canberra’s announcement did not excuse its support for the country’s coal industry. Continue Reading →

Trains deliver water to drought-affected NSW coal mines to keep production going and save jobs – by Kathleen Ferguson (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – August 7, 2019)

Trains carrying 725,000 litres of water a day are the latest weapon to keep a drought-affected mine in inland New South Wales in production and keep jobs secure.

The Southern Shorthaul Railroad [SSR] company has started carting water between Centennial Coal’s Charbon and Airlie mines near Lithgow on a 40-kilometre route.

The unorthodox mode of water supply is not only securing coal production, but also jobs. “That would have meant that they would have had to cease coal production in the mine and, for them, that would have meant laying off 140 full-time staff.” Continue Reading →

Glencore mine could be forced to sell coal only to Paris agreement signatories – by Michael McGowan (The Guardian – August 6, 2019)

Mining company Glencore could be forced to only sell coal from a new mine in New South Wales to signatories of the Paris climate agreement, under a proposal floated by the state’s independent planning commission.

Opposed by Glencore and its joint-venture partner in the mine, Peabody, the condition would see approval of the Wambo open-cut coalmine in the state’s Hunter Valley linked to the countries it exports to.

But the proposal has prompted a mixed response from environment groups. While some have argued linking the coal mine’s approval to global emissions is positive, others say merely restricting exports to signatories to the Paris agreement will not have any meaningful impact because virtually every country has signed up to the agreement. Continue Reading →

Protests over worker deaths paralyze production at some Coal India mines – by Jatindra Dash (Reuters U.S. – July 29, 2019)

BHUBANESWAR (Reuters) – Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have mounted protests that have paralyzed production at one of India’s biggest coalfields following a deadly accident last week.

The BJP workers have been staging sit-down protests and waving flags at state-run Coal India Ltd’s mines in the eastern state of Odisha, demanding a safety audit of all mines in the region.

Rescue officials said they have recovered the bodies of three workers who were trapped inside the mine in Odisha’s Angul district after a landslide on Tuesday, and are trying to recover another body from inside the mine. Continue Reading →

BHP makes $400 million climate-change emissions pledge – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – July 23, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – Leading resources company BHP (BHP.AX)(BHPB.L) will invest $400 million over five years to reduce emissions, it said on Tuesday, becoming the first miner to pledge to tackle pollution caused when customers use its products.

BHP is the world’s biggest listed miner and biggest coking coal producer. Combined with iron ore, also mined by BHP, coking coal is used to make steel, producing millions of tonnes of CO2.

CEO Andrew Mackenzie said BHP would develop technology to curb emissions both inside and outside the company. From next year it will set a medium-term, science-based decarbonisation target, he said in a speech at an event organised by the Financial Times. Continue Reading →

B.C. mining touted as green solution even as environmental groups warn of lax industry regulations – by Ainslie Cruickshank (Toronto Star – July 17, 2019)

VANCOUVER—A B.C. environmental organization says lax mining regulation is putting B.C. waterways at risk, even as resource ministers on Wednesday touted Canada as a top source for the metals and minerals the world needs to transition to a green economy.

“Our big concern is how much of B.C.’s competitive advantage, as they call it, is actually just weak environmental regulations,” said Lars Sander-Green, a science and communications analyst with Wildsight.

Sander-Green’s comments came as the annual conference of ministers responsible for energy and mines wrapped up. This year’s conference was held in Cranbrook, B.C. Continue Reading →