June 28, 2018
Issue 235  |  View Past Issues

Editor's Note

The social and economic costs of coal are increasingly being successfully challenged. In Pakistan, the Supreme Court has banned the unloading and storage of coal in the city in order to cut air pollution and health risks to residents. In the Philippines, the South Cotabato Provincial Board has voted against a proposed mine. In the US, a utilities regulator has rejected a bid by Duke Energy to pass on the costs of a US$70 million fine for coal waste mismanagement to consumers. In Europe, the secretariat of the Energy Community has challenged subsidies for a proposed coal plant in Kosovo.

In South Africa, the government is trying to win support from a coalition of banks for funding support for Eskom. In India, the bad debts incurred from funding uneconomic coal projects are dragging public sector banks down while the government’s Minister for Energy has suggested that a 100,000 megawatt (MW) solar tender will be launched in the near future.

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. In India, over 200 people have been arrested for seeking the enforcement of a pollution control order at a coal port. In Egypt, a Chinese consortium has been given the go-ahead for what could become the world’s largest coal plant.

Bob Burton


Abandoned coal power plant a US$38 billion warning sign for Indian banks

An abandoned 1050 MW coal power plant in Jharkhand state is symptomatic of up to US$38 billion in bad loans which are crippling India’s banks, write Rajesh Kumar Singh and Anto Antony in Bloomberg.

Why is the world’s newest development bank investing in coal despite its green promise?

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) indirect investment in a controversial coal-fired cement plant in Myanmar is a worrying sign for its climate credentials, writes Petra Kjell in Climate Home.

A new generation picks up the struggle against coal in the Czech Republic

Community opposition to continued coal mining in the Czech Republic is growing, write Radek Kubala, Josef Patocka and Antonie Bernardova from the Czech climate justice coalition Limity jsme my in Global Voices.


Pakistan court blocks coal shipments through Karachi port

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled in favour of environmentalists and banned the unloading of thermal coal at Karachi port after the end of July. The legal challenge argued that the coal terminal operation in Karachi city violated local health and safety regulations. “Nobody cares how coal dust is giving birth to different diseases in the city,” said Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar. As a result of the ruling all coal imports into Pakistan will have to be routed to the Pakistan International Bulk Terminal at Port Qasim, about 40 kilometres from the city centre. It is estimated it costs up to US$10 per tonne more to handle coal imported via Port Qasim than in Karachi. (Business Recorder, Platts)

Top News

Provincial board votes against Philippines coal mine: The 6–4 vote by the South Cotabato Provincial Board’s against a proposed coal mine near Lake Sebu town in Mindanao province has been welcomed by human rights and environmental groups. A subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation had proposed an open-cut coal mine even though the province’s 2010 environmental code states “open-pit mining method shall not be allowed in the province of South Cotabato.” (Mindanao Gold Star Daily, PTV News)

Over 200 arrested over protest against Indian coal port: Police arrested over 200 people from a coalition of groups protesting outside the Puducherry Pollution Control Board against the continued operation of uncovered coal unloading operations at Marg Port. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had directed the port, which is near the town of Karaikal in the territory of Puducherry, to use covered conveyor belts to reduce pollution and health hazards to the surrounding residents. While the Puducherry Pollution Control Board requested the port to comply with the CPCB’s direction, the port continued without implementing the required changes. (United News of India)

Rallies in German cities ahead of coal phase-out commission meeting: An estimated 4000 people attended protest rallies in five cities calling for a rapid phase-out of coal power in Germany. The rallies were just days before the first meeting of the commission appointed by the government to develop a plan to phase out domestic coal power and diversify the economies of the most affected regions. Just over one-third of Germany’s electricity comes from coal and lignite. A study commissioned by Greenpeace Energy, a green power provider, has estimated ending lignite mining and power generation would save 28 billion euros a year (US$33 billion), largely due to the costs of health and climate impacts. (Deutsche Welle, Clean Energy Wire)

Court documents reveal Adani hired wrong Aboriginal group: Court documents have revealed Adani paid about A$2 million (US$1.5 million) in 2014 and 2015 to Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation, including about $800,000 for cultural heritage assessments for its proposed Carmichael coal project. However, details of the funding were not disclosed in the Kyburra annual reports which disclosed only $50,000 income in each of the years. A recent decision by the Federal Court of Australia found that another Aboriginal group, Juru Enterprises, was the proper group to represent traditional owners in a land-use agreement with Adani raising potential doubts about the validity of the cultural assessments. (Guardian)

US company boosts lobbying in bid to bypass coal export terminal road blocks: Lighthouse Resources has spent US$100,000 in the first quarter of 2018 on lobbying for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico to allow energy export projects to bypass local permitting. Lighthouse Resources is pushing to export 25 million tonnes a year of coal through the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Washington State but has suffered setbacks after failing to get key permits for the project. (TDN.com)

US corruption case against coal company executive begins: A senior executive with Drummond Coal, David Roberson, and two lawyers working for the company are on trial on charges they conspired to bribe former Alabama State Democratic Representative Oliver Robinson to oppose company land being included as part of a hazardous waste clean-up site. Robinson, who has pleaded guilty to accepting a US$360,000 bribe but has not yet been sentenced, is set to testify against Roberson and the two lawyers. The trial is expected to run for a month. Drummond has a coke plant in Alabama and coal mines in the US and Colombia. (WECT6)

“Are we so infatuated with relentless economic growth that we completely ignore coal-fired power’s debilitating impacts on our financial institutions, our citizens’ health and the world’s precariously low carbon emission allowances? Apparently, there are other than prudent considerations which are compelling the government to persuade PSU [public sector undertaking] banks to finance coal-based power,”

writes E A S Sarma, a former Secretary, Ministry of Power and Ministry of Finance, India.


Asia: With sale of Thai and Laos assets, Engie completes exit from coal plants in Asia-Pacific.

Australia: Court upholds NSW Planning Assessment Commission decision to approve Peabody Energy mine expansion without considering state’s climate change policy or Paris Agreement.

Japan: Tohoku Electric Power abandons negotiations with Glencore over benchmark price for 2018/19 thermal coal imports.

Pakistan: Finance finalised for 660 MW Lucky Electric plant at Port Qasim near Karachi.

Papua New Guinea: Mayur Resources given approval for test shipment from country’s first proposed coal mine.

South Africa: Jindal Mining SA, which operates the Kiepersol mine, opts for bankruptcy protection in hope of overcoming “financial distress.”

Tanzania: Edenville Energy extends MOU for investigation of Rukwa coal project to 2019.

Turkey: Government expected to impose five per cent tariff on US coal imports.

US: Lawsuit seeks action to protect protected freshwater lobsters in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia from coal mining pollution.

US: Southern Company’s US$1 million donation to a pro-Trump group backfires after racist comments by staffers revealed.

Companies + Markets

Duke Energy takes US$70 million hit on coal ash dumps: The North Carolina Utilities Commission has rejected a request by a Duke Energy subsidiary to charge customers for a US$70 million fine for mismanagement of its coal ash dams. The commission stated Duke Energy “placed its consumers at risk of inadequate or unreasonably expensive service” due to its poor decisions in its handling of its coal ash. The commission also deferred for later consideration a Duke Energy bid to charge customers US$1.5 billion for closing all its coal ash dams. Environmental organisations, consumer groups and the North Carolina Attorney General opposed Duke Energy’s bid to pass coal ash management costs on to consumers. (The Journal Gazette)

Kosovo coal plant subsidy challenged: The secretariat of the Energy Community, which oversees the energy market in the European Union and neighbouring countries, has challenged provisions in the power purchase agreement between the Kosovo Government and ContourGlobal for the development of the 500 MW Kosovo C coal plant. The secretariat revealed that it wrote to the Kosovo Government in March that it “believes that several elements of the contracts signed constitute state aid.” The legal framework establishing the Energy Community prohibits subsidies. Despite uncertainty over World Bank funding, ContourGlobal has called for bids from companies willing to construct the plant. (Balkan Green Energy News, Reuters)

India flags 100,000 MW tender for solar: India’s Minister for Energy, R K Singh, has further boosted the prospects for exceeding the country’s 175,000 MW target by 2022 by foreshadowing that an additional 100,000 MW of solar capacity will be opened to tenders at an unspecified time. Singh said that a prime driver for the shift to renewables was to cut pollution. He also acknowledged that 20 cities in India are ranked among the most polluted in the world. A separate 10,000 MW solar tender is due to open in July. (Economic Times, RenewEconomy)

South African Minister courts banks for stressed Eskom: South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and Treasury officials have met with bank executives seeking funding and advice on restructuring financially stressed state-owned companies including Eskom. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants has laid charges of misconduct against former Eskom chief financial officer, Anoj Singh, alleging he failed to comply with relevant laws and regulations which could reasonably be seen to bring the accountancy profession into disrepute. (BusinessLive, TimesLive)

Egypt ticks off on 6000 MW plant: Egyptian Electricity, a publicly owned utility, has awarded the tender for the construction of the 6000 MW Hamrawein plant to a Chinese-backed consortium comprising Shanghai Electric, Dongfang Electric Cooperation and the Egyptian construction company Hassan Allam Construction. The proposed US$4.4 billion plant, which was US$1.4 billion cheaper than a bid submitted by a consortium headed by General Electric, would be the world’s largest coal plant. (Zaywa, CoalSwarm)

Mongolia aims to kick-start development of mine and power plant: With the recent increase in metallurgical coal prices the Government of Mongolia is proposing to privatise up to 30 per cent of Erdenes MGL which owns the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit. The Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit is considered one of the world’s largest potential metallurgical coal mines. However, the mine project has been delayed for a decade due to lack of funding and frequent changes to the consortia proposing to develop it. The government has also said that it wants to accelerate the development of a US$1 billion mine-mouth power plant and a 247-kilometre railway to transport coal to the Chinese border. (Reuters, CoalSwarm)

Chinese coal imports climbing in 2018: China’s coal imports are on track to increase by 12 per cent in the first half of 2018, a 15 million tonne increase over the same period in 2017. The growth has all been to the benefit of Indonesian exporters. While Indonesian coal has generally has a lower calorific value than Australian exports, it has a far lower sulphur content enabling it to be blended with domestic or imported coal. (Reuters)


Moving Beyond Rhetoric: How the AIIB can close the loophole on fossil fuels, Bank Information Center and Inclusive Development International, June 2018. (Pdf)

This 8-page report reveals that despite assurances it would exclude coal projects the AIIB is indirectly funding the expansion of the Shwe Taung cement plant in Myanmar which includes the doubling of a nearby coal mine opposed by local communities.

“The Carbon Brief Profile: Japan”, Carbon Brief, June 25, 2018.

This profile provides a concise overview of Japan’s energy use and its reliance on coal.

Banking Beyond Coal: Sustainable Development Without Coal Finance, ShareAction, June 2018. (Pdf)

This 10-page investor briefing reviews the current coal lending policies of major banks.