Archive | Coal

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 →

Coal’s 20-Year Reign Masks a Brewing Revolution – by Liam Denning (Bloomberg News – June 13, 2018)

Wind and solar are growing faster than incumbent power sources.

BP’s latest Statistical Review of World Energy, released Wednesday, contains a chart that could leave environmentalists feeling somewhat flat (much like the lines):

Coal’s share of the world’s electricity mix was about 38 percent in 1997, and in 2017 it was about … 38 percent. 1 Fossil fuels overall have actually increased their share, from 63 percent to 65 percent. Not exactly what folks in Paris or (even further back) Kyoto had in mind.

When it comes to the global energy market, though, absolute numbers do tend to shift very slowly – its sheer scale makes a supertanker look like a Ferrari. Which means it’s also important to look at what is happening on the margin. And here, there are clear signs of a shift. Continue Reading →

Activists fear Indian proposal for coal reserves in Indonesian-ruled Papua – by Febriana Firdaus (Asia Pacific Report – June 13, 2018)

Asia Pacific Report

Jakarta – As it seeks to diversify its sources of fuel, India is looking to get in on the ground floor of coal mining in previously unexploited deposits in Indonesian-ruled Papua.

In exchange for technical support and financing for geological surveys, officials say India is pushing for special privileges, including no-bid contracts on any resulting concessions a prospect that could run foul of Indonesia’s anti-corruption laws.

The details of an Indian mining project in Papua are still being negotiated, but Indonesia’s energy ministry welcomes the prospect as part of a greater drive to explore energy resources in the country’s easternmost provinces. Continue Reading →

Remembering the Cape Breton miner – by Sharon Montgomery-Dupe (Cape Breton Post – June 12, 2018)

NEW WATERFORD, N.S. — Shelly MacDonald couldn’t find medicine in New Waterford Monday morning but he did find solidarity. “I had to go out for cough drops for my son and first went to Pharmasave and found there and right down the strip all the stores closed,” said MacDonald, the great-grandson of the late Bill Davis.

MacDonald then realized the stores were once again honouring and showing respect for Davis Day. “I thought that was very respectful and it was much appreciated.”

Davis Day was remembered Monday with an ecumenical service at Calvin United Church in New Waterford followed by a service and laying of wreaths at Davis Square on Plummer Avenue that included a performance by the well-known coal miners chorale group, The Men of the Deeps. Continue Reading →

Opinion: The Resource Curse of Appalachia – by Eliza Griswold (New York Times – June 9, 2018)

Jason Clark has lived near Amity, Pa., in the southwestern part of the state, since he was born. He likes to call urban Americans “hypocrites.” At 38, he’s the president of the Pork Association in Washington County, which sits at the edge of Appalachia.

City dwellers are consumers, as he sees it; they gobble up resources like meat and coal and natural gas without knowing where they come from or thinking much about the toll that rural Americans pay to supply them.

There’s a term for that toll. Economists call it the resource curse, or the paradox of plenty. Since the 1990s, political scientists and development experts have used the resource curse to explain why countries richest in fossil fuels tend to remain poor. The problem, they contend, lies in the toxic impact of large influxes of cash: Easy money displaces more productive economic activity and fosters weak governments. Continue Reading →

Coal comfort: Queensland budget to benefit from surging mining royalties – by Ben Smee (The Guardian – June 8, 2018)

Windfall of $1bn shows state remains reliant on resources even amid renewables push

Surging coal prices will help to underwrite the upcoming Queensland budget. The state is expected to announce it has earned about $1bn more than initially forecast from royalties.

The windfall will help the Palaszczuk Labor government pay for infrastructure spending and handouts in next week’s budget, and will likely speed up the state’s projected return to surplus.

But it will also bring into focus the extent to which the state remains reliant on royalties from mining – one of the “pillars” of the Queensland economy – while the government also pushes forward with a transition to renewable energy sources. Continue Reading →

Australian coal prices hit 6-year high as Asia demand spikes – by Henning Gloystein and Sonali Paul (Reuters U.S. – June 7, 2018)

SINGAPORE/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian thermal coal prices have risen to their highest level since 2012 as hot weather across North Asia spurs buying ahead of the peak summer demand season.

Spot prices for thermal coal cargoes for export from Australia’s Newcastle terminal last closed at $115.25 per tonne, the highest level since February 2012. Thermal coal, the world’s most used fuel for electricity generation, has surged by 130 percent since its record lows below $50 per tonne in 2016 following a years-long decline.

Prices have been driven up by economic growth, especially in Asia, along with constraints on supply due to earlier mine closures and high hurdles to developing new mines amid concerns about pollution and global warming. Continue Reading →

Virginia’s coal-mining tombs – by Allen Best (Pique News Magazine – June 7, 2018)

Appalachia can humble people who think they have an ingrained GPS. I had flown into Pittsburgh, incorrectly assuming I had landed east of the city, then spent the next 15 hours resolutely determined that west was east.

Rarely has my inner compass betrayed me during my travels amid the North American West’s tall mountains and wide valleys. Amid the tree-covered hills and hollows of Appalachia, though, I felt like a whirling dervish, a Sufi mystic seeking enlightenment through dizziness.

My trip to Pittsburgh had dual missions: a conference but also an assignment to write about coal communities in transition. “When you think of coal, everybody thinks of Appalachia,” my editor in Chicago had said. Continue Reading →

U.S. Interior Department weighs plan to save Navajo coal plant from closing – by Valerie Volcovici and Scott DiSavino (Reuters U.S. – June 6, 2018)

(Reuters) – The U.S. Interior Department may use executive powers to prevent a large coal-fired power plant from shutting down next year in Arizona, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to throw a lifeline to at-risk coal and nuclear plants.

The head of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation said on Friday that a 1968 law gives Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke power to require an Arizona water project to buy energy from the Navajo Generating Station, or NGS, a 2,250-MW coal-fired power plant that is scheduled to close in 2019. Such a move could delay the plant’s closure.

The proposal fits neatly with a broader effort by the administration of President Donald Trump to keep aging coal and nuclear plants from retirement, arguing their closure would constitute a threat to national energy security. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Coal prices boosted by rare simultaneous demand from Asia’s top buyers – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 7, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 7 (Reuters) – Coal prices in Asia are being driven to multi-year highs by a rare combination of simultaneous demand growth in the region’s top four importers.

Depending on the price used, thermal coal is either close to a two-year high or near the strongest in six years as China, India, Japan and South Korea imported more of the polluting fuel in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2017.

The Australian thermal coal benchmark, the weekly Newcastle Index, ended last week at $108.89 a tonne, not far from the $110.60 hit in late February, which was the highest price since March 2012. Continue Reading →

A Expensive, Lethal Obsession With Coal – by Greg Ip (Wall Street Journal/ – June 6, 2018)

Donald Trump’s efforts to revive coal mining have been criticized as choosing winners. Truly, it’s extra like choosing losers: coal has change into a sundown business as cleaner vitality sources quickly get cheaper. If Mr. Trump succeeds at reversing the tide, it is going to come at a steep value, in each and lives, most tragically for the coal miners he purports to assist.

Centuries in the past, coal was a miracle materials. Cleaner, safer and extra environment friendly than wooden, it made the Industrial Revolution, steam energy and electrification doable. In a lot of the world it stays ridiculously plentiful and would be the energy era gas of selection for years to come back.

Within the U.S., although, coal is headed towards obsolescence. Due to the fracking revolution, natural-gas-fueled energy crops are actually cheaper to construct and function than coal-fired crops.Photo voltaic- and wind-generated energy now prices much less per kilowatt-hour to supply than coal. Continue Reading →

INSIGHT-US coal lobby fights black-lung tax as disease rates surge – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters Africa -June 1, 2018)

PRINCETON, West Virginia, June 1 (Reuters) – As a young man, Barry Shrewsbury dug coal in the West Virginia mines and spent his time off hunting and fishing in the rolling hills. Now, at 62, he struggles to breathe and accomplish basic tasks such as shopping and showering, and relies on a federal fund for ex-miners with black lung disease to pay for an oxygen tank and doctor visits.

“The benefits are a lifeline,” Shrewsbury said between labored breaths after a treatment at the Bluestone Health Center, an industrial-style building set against a leafy landscape in Princeton, West Virginia.

That lifeline is threatened. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is at risk of insolvency due to soaring debt and a slashing of coal-company contributions through a tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, according to a report the U.S. Government Accountability Office plans to publish soon, two sources briefed on the study told Reuters. Continue Reading →

Trump Orders Action to Stem Coal, Nuclear Plant Shutdowns – by Jennifer A Dlouhy (Bloomberg News – June 1, 2018)

President Donald Trump ordered his energy secretary to take immediate action to stem power plant closures, arguing that a decline in coal and nuclear electricity is putting the nation’s security at risk.

“Impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix and impacting the resilience of our power grid,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in an emailed statement Friday. Trump has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry “to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations.”

Trump’s directive comes as administration officials search for ways to extend the life of money-losing coal and nuclear power plants that face competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. The plants are considered “fuel-secure” because they house coal and nuclear material on site and are not dependent on pipelines that can be disrupted, wind that stops blowing or a sun that sets. Continue Reading →

Think the Big Banks Have Abandoned Coal? Think Again – by Emily Flitter (New York Times – May 28, 2018)

An environmental group’s analysis shows the five largest United States banks have started lending to coal companies again now that they’re out of bankruptcy.

Starting three years ago, the largest American banks vowed to cut back on lending to the coal industry.

“The bank has a responsibility to help mitigate climate change by leveraging our scale and resources to accelerate the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon society,” Bank of America said in its coal policy in May 2015.

Their pledges seemed so dramatic that Paul Argenti, a professor of corporate communication at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, began citing them in lectures as a rare example of a corporate principle’s trumping profits. “I read it as: They were done,” he said. Continue Reading →