Adani’s billionaire brother starts to retreat as scrutiny builds
Vinod Adani, Gautam’s brother who is seen as a key figure in the family empire, has cut ties with three companies linked to the controversial Carmichael coal mine in Australia, writes Anders Melin and Stephen Stapczynski in Bloomberg.
How the US Clean Air Act lets closed coal plants keep polluting for years
A loophole in clean-air regulations allows the owners of retired coal plants to sell emissions allowances under a cap-and-trade program for five years after they shuts down. The loophole enables other polluting coal plants to delay closure and remain compliant with pollution limits, writes Tim Mclaughlin in Reuters.
Coal power in South Africa kills thousands — phase it out
Proponents of delaying coal plant closures fail to mention the critical moral argument that every year, air pollution from South Africa’s coal power stations kills thousands of people, writes Melissa Fourie from the Centre for Environmental Rights in Business Day.
Australia’s thermal coal outlook faces “fragile” global demand
With over two-thirds of Australia’s thermal coal exports destined for just three countries – Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – the mining sector confronts significant disruption as the shift away from coal generation gathers pace, write Andrew Gorringe and Simon Nicholas in RenewEconomy.
New Zealand court rules against mine
New Zealand’s Environment Court has ruled against the development of a proposed 144-hectare open-cut mountaintop coal mine at Te Kuha on the west coast of the South Island. The mine site is home to threatened species, including the roroa great spotted kiwi, South Island fernbird, geckos, and 17 plant species. Stevenson Mining had proposed operating the metallurgical coal mine for 16 years. In the latest case, Forest and Bird, with the support of the Coal Action Network, challenged a decision made in 2017 to approve the mine. The court’s decision is the third case Stevenson Mining has lost over the project. (Forest and Bird, New Zealand Environment Court)
NGO discovers Welsh mine is operating without a valid planning permit: The Coal Action Network says Coal Authority data reveals that Merthyr (South Wales) mined more than 100,000 tonnes of coal at its Ffos y Fran mine since planning permission for mining expired in September 2022. Merthyr applied for planning permission to allow mining until March 31, 2024. Merthyr Tydfil County Bough Council unanimously rejected the proposed extension. Before the meeting the council said it would not take any enforcement action over the company’s operation beyond the expiry of its planning permit until after the planning committee considered the proposed extension. (Wales Online, BBC)
CEO of Kosovo power utility arrested: Nagip Krasniqi, the Chief Executive Officer of Kosovo Energy Corporation, a government-owned power utility, has been arrested on charges of abuse of power, influence peddling and conflict of interest. Local media outlets report that Krasniqi’s arrest is related to contracts issued as part of a project to refurbish the 200 MW Unit A at the trouble-plagued Kosovo A power station. Krasniqi’s lawyer, Taulant Ferizi, said the investigation by the Special Prosecution Office focussed on two contracts, with media reports referring to a €3.4 million contract with electricity distribution system operator KEDS and the other related to a €60,000 fee for consulting services. Unit A has been offline for ten months. After an unsuccessful tender process, a contract was entered into for urgent repair work without a public procurement process. Ferizi said the raid on Krasniqi’s house was against legal procedures. (Balkan Green Energy News, Prishtina Insight)
Colombian reps file complaint against utilities and ports over ‘blood coal’: Two community representatives have submitted a complaint to the National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines in The Hague over the role of RWE, Vattenfall, Uniper, and Engie in importing and distributing Colombian coal. With the support of the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and PAX, the complainants allege that over 3,000 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced from their land around the coal mines in Cesar province between 1996 and 2006. Human rights abuses by armed groups continue in the region. The complaint argues that the companies did not comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as they failed to take adequate measures to address the human rights impacts associated with the coal they bought. The complaint also names HES International, a cargo company, and the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, which moved the coal. The Swiss company Glencore and US-based Drummond own and operate the mines. (NL Times, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations)
Indian groups hit by another government crackdown on NGOs: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a preliminary case against one of India’s leading environmental lawyers, Ritwick Dutta, alleging he received foreign funding in 2013-14 and later from the US-based environmental law group, Earthjustice. Dutta is heads the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), a public interest environmental law group. The CBI alleges the financing violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 and claims that “LIFE and EJ are in the process of stalling coal projects in India”. LIFE said it has not broken the law and is co-operating with the investigation. Dutta has not yet responded to the CBI claims. The action is the latest attack on NGOs challenging coal projects since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in 2014. In June 2014, an internal Intelligence Bureau report was leaked to the media accusing 22 foreign-funded environmental and human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International and Greenpeace, of cutting the country’s national income by 2-3 per cent. A separate report on Greenpeace’s work challenging coal mines and power plants was used as justification for the 2015 decision by the Ministry of Home Affairs stripping the organisation, and 9000 other groups, of their licence to receive foreign funds. In February, the Ministry of Home Affairs suspended the ability of the Centre for Policy Research to receive international funds over its funding of an NGO called Jana Abhivyakti Samajik Vikas Sanstha (JASVS). The trustee of JASVS, Alok Shukla, is the convenor of Hasdeo Bachao Andolan, a group opposing coal mining projects in the forest, including by Adani. (The Wire, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment [Twitter], The Siasat Daily)
NGOs challenge Engie’s rehabilitation plan for Australian mine: Federal Department of Environment officials have flagged Engie’s preferred plan for rehabilitating the former Hazelwood mine site could pose significant environmental risks to threatened and migratory species and the Ramsar-protected Gippsland Lakes. Engie has proposed converting the open-cut brown coal mine into a “pit lake” between 70 and 130 metres deep by diverting water from the Morwell River into the mine for up to two decades. Experts consider that the mine water could be unsuitable for swimming within decades. The mine closed in 2017 when the Hazelwood power station ceased operating. The Victorian government has released the scoping requirements for Engie’s environmental effects statement. Environmental groups argue the decision on Hazelwood will set a precedent for other operators which have plans to fill the Loy Yang mine with 1.4 trillion litres of water and the Yallourn mine with 725 billion litres of water. (Sydney Morning Herald, Environment Victoria, Environmental Justice Australia [Pdf])
Canadian NGO says Teck’s fines have little impact on behaviour: An analysis of environmental fines on companies operating in British Columbia by federal and provincial regulators has revealed that Teck Resources has been hit with C$83.1 million in administrative penalties and fines since 2013. Teck Resources accounts for 78 per cent of all environmental fines and administrative penalties against British Columbia companies. Teck also failed compliance checks on its environmental permits in 84 per cent of more than 250 inspections between 2017 and 2023. Wyatt Petryshen from the NGO Wildsight said the fines are insignificant compared to the billions in annual profits the company makes. “The penalties, I think it’s just the cost of doing business,” he said. Teck has proposed spinning its coal mines off into Elk Valley Resources, and appointed a former provincial premier, John Horgan, to the new company’s board. The leader of the British Columbia Greens, Sonia Furstenau, has proposed strengthening the province’s Members’ Conflict of Interest Act to ban a former public office holder from accepting appointment as a company director of an entity with which they had direct and significant dealings. Furstenau proposes the ban be one year for former MPs and two years for former Ministers. (Vancouver Sun, Business in Vancouver)
Australia: Tigers Realm Coal, which operates the Amaam Coal Project in Russia’s Far East, has suspended trading in its shares on the Australian Stock Exchange pending possible privatisation and delisting. The Australian government recently advised the company it may be in breach of sanctions on trading with Russia.
Canada: The Alberta New Democratic Party has pledged to ban open-cut coal mining in the Rockies if elected at the May 2023 election.
Canada: Tribal leaders from 10 First Nations groups in Canada and the US have written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Columbia’s Premier David Eby, urging them to institute a moratorium on issuing mine permits until there is a formal consultation process with tribes.
Mongolia: TMK Energy has raised A$5.7 million (US$3.8 million) from investors for its Gurvantes XXXV coal seam gas exploration project near the Ovoot Tolgoi coalfield.
Pakistan: China Machinery Engineering Corporation says it will halve coal production next month if the US$60 million owed on Thar coal remains unpaid.
Russia: Hit by labour shortages and loss of markets after invading Ukraine, the Russian government’s coal mining company Arktikugol has “attracted large Russian businesses” to consume coal from its Spitsbergen mine on Svalbard.
Serbia: A bill before parliament would commit the Serbian Government to phase out the use of coal “as soon as possible and in any case not later than by December 31, 2050”. The bill commits the government to finalise a plan by the end of 2030 detailing coal plant closures.
Turkiye: The trial has begun of 23 Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises managers and staff over the October 2022 explosion at the Amasra mine that killed 42 miners and injured ten others.
UK: Coal generation at the Drax plant has ceased with the closure of two 660 MW coal units. Four of the six units at the plant have been converted to burn biomass.
US: West Virginia’s Public Service Commission is considering a plan to provide US$36 million in ratepayer subsidies to keep the 1300 MW Pleasants Power Station online until May 2024 while FirstEnergy considers buying the plant.
German coal burn likely to slump over summer months: The commodities analyst firm Argus estimates that German electricity generation from imported hard coal could fall by up to 19 per cent over the April 1 to September 30 period to 4800 MW due to lower power demand, increased renewable capacity and a growing cost advantage for gas generation. Argus assumes that German solar and wind capacity will grow by seven and five per cent, respectively, compared to 2022. It believes that lignite generation will fall by five per cent, in line with the decline over the first quarter. In mid-April, Germany closed the last of its nuclear capacity, and 1900 MW of lignite capacity is scheduled to close by the end of June. The ban on Russian coal imports has resulted in power utilities switching to sources in the US, Colombia and South Africa. The UK-based climate policy think tank, E3G, notes that while Germany currently has about 38,000 MW of hard coal and lignite capacity, an end to coal generation by 2030 remains possible. It argues closures could be accelerated due to a high European Union carbon price or the government renegotiating the phase-out timetable with coal regions. (Argus, E3G)
US study finds bank divestment pushes utilities to retire coal plants: A study by Harvard Business School professors Boris Vallee and Daniel Green found that the adoption of coal lending restrictions by banks produced “large effects” on clients. The study estimated that companies subject to restrictions slashed their borrowing by one-quarter compared to peers unaffected by conditions. They found that there was “limited” substitution between divesting lenders and non-divesting ones or companies sourcing funds from bonds or selling new shares. The study also found that companies subject to divestment were more likely to retire coal small to medium sized coal plants early in line with funders’ policies. The authors concluded this is “consistent with the notion that more diversified firms are better able to substitute into different investment opportunities.” (Harvard Business School)
Report finds over one trillion dollars still invested in coal: A review of the investments of over 6,500 institutional investors by the German climate NGO Urgewald has found US$1.05 trillion is invested in the 1000 companies on the Global Coal Exit List. Companies on the list include those involved in coal mining, trading and transport, converting coal to liquids, operating coal power stations, and producing equipment for new coal plants. The Investing in Climate Chaos website found that 38 per cent of total fossil fuel investments, or US$400 billion, is invested in coal developers. A further US$2.13 trillion is invested in oil and gas companies. The report finds that Vanguard and BlackRock are the two largest investors in fossil fuels, with US$269 billion and US$263 billion held, respectively. BlackRock is the world’s largest investor in companies developing coal projects. (Urgewald)
Analysts warn extending life of South African coal plants will be costly: South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, who has described himself as a “coal fundamentalist”, attended the opening of Seriti Resources’ new Klipspruit Colliery stating that “coal is going to be here for a long time.” With Eskom load shedding continuing, The Minister for Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has proposed delaying the closure of old coal plants. However, Cabinet has reportedly delayed a decision and requested further details. Failure to close old coal plants could be costly. S&P Global Commodity Insights estimates the European Union’s proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism could cost South Africa US$91.8 billion over 15 years to 2040, with most of the impact falling on iron and steel exporters. South African energy analyst Chris Yelland said extending the life of old coal plants is also likely to jeopardise access to the US$8.5 billion Just Energy Transition funding. (Financial Post, Engineering News, News24, MyBroadband)
Study finds few banks exclude metallurgical coal from lending: An analysis of recent Global Energy Monitor data by Reclaim Finance highlights that there are currently 138 new coal mining projects that entirely or partially produce metallurgical coal with a combined capacity of 400 million tonnes per year. The analysis also highlights that coal mine methane emissions associated with metallurgical coal production add about 27 per cent to the steel industry’s 20-year climate effect. However, current emissions accounting rules exclude mining emissions from steel production. Reclaim Finance note that four European banks have an exclusion of metallurgical coal in their coal policy: HSBC, CaixaBank, Lloyds Banking Group and Nordea. The policies of HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group restrict finance based on revenue thresholds as part of the total group’s operations as well as explicitly excluding new metallurgical coal projects. (Reclaim Finance)
Ex-Eskom CEO faces parliamentary committee over corruption claims: The former CEO of Eskom, Andreé de Ruyter, has told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that his previous estimate that corruption costs the utility about one billion rand a month (US$55 million) is a “conservative estimate”. He told the committee that “internal resistance and non-compliance” have limited the effectiveness of measures to stem the losses which he said include payments for parts that are never supplied. De Ruyter said organised groups associated with individual power stations target coal supply. “The cartel leader or his subordinates will approach a specific end user, who could be an Eskom engineer or manager at a power station, to begin the illicit process,” De Ruyter said. De Ruyter said he had provided information to police agencies. The African National Congress government blocked moves by opposition parties to establish a parliamentary inquiry into de Ruyter’s allegation that some ANC officials were involved in corruption affecting the utility. (TechCentral, Engineering News)
Credible pathways to 1.5°C: Four pillars for action in the 2020s, International Energy Agency, April 2023. (Pdf)
This 17-page report provides a concise overview of the IEA’s view on limiting global heating to 1.5 °C in 2100. In the energy sector, it points to decarbonising electricity, accelerating energy efficiency and electrification.