Optimism pervades US coal industry amid fewer regulations: forum

9 Mar 2017   Coal

Optimism pervaded the coal industry Wednesday as it gathered at the American Coal Council’s Spring Coal Forum in Clearwater, Florida, as the early days of the Trump administration have brought regulatory relief for an industry struggling to regain its edge. Early signs of the Trump administration’s focus on energy-related regulations have been positive for the industry, including a bill signed last month that eliminated the Stream Protection Rule, as well as executive orders on other energy-related issues, said Michael Nasi, a partner with Jackson Walker, a Dallas-based environmental law firm. Doing nothing in terms of federal intervention would be a major change for the industry compared with the Obama administration, which issued 57 federal implement plans over eight years. The FIPs are typically reserved for extraordinary circumstances under the Clean Air Act, which attempted to give more control to the states. “If all the president does is to stop […]

China will not force big coal output cuts if prices reasonable: NDRC

7 Mar 2017   China, Coal

China will not force coal mines to cut output on a large scale if prices remain within a reasonable range, the country’s state planner said on Tuesday, the latest comments from the government on its efforts to tackle excess supplies and smog. In a statement, the National Development and Reform Commission said provincial governments and relevant agencies will decide whether to implement cutbacks at mines that are not considered “advanced”. It did not say what price range it would consider reasonable. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Coal exports from Hampton Roads, Virginia, continue to climb in February

7 Mar 2017   Coal, USA

Coal exports from terminals in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region totaled 2.8 million st in February, up 8.2% from the prior month and up 50.7% from the year-ago month, according to export data released Monday by the Virginia Maritime Association. It was the highest monthly total since March 2015, and the fifth straight month of higher exports, as higher seaborne prices increased demand for US thermal and metallurgical coals . At the three individual terminals in Hampton Roads, Lambert’s Point, also known as Pier 6, exported 1.16 million st in February, up 0.5% from January and up 23.5% from last year. It was the also highest monthly total for the Norfolk, Virginia, terminal — which is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern — since March 2015. Article continues below… Platts Coal Trader provides the latest prices for key benchmark coals, as well as: Daily pricing for tons and allowances for […]

Early surge in coal usage in 2017 may not last

3 Mar 2017   Coal

There are signs utilities are buying more coal this year than last thanks to a late-year surge in natural gas prices, but the black rock still isn’t expected to regain its crown from gas as the leading fuel source for power generation. That’s even as President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he wants a revival of coal production, a dirtier fuel than gas that has seen its fortunes decline thanks to a shale boom that has boosted gas production. Gas prices rose in late December, and analysts have been predicting an improved outlook for 2017 for coal, as higher gas prices make coal the cheaper fuel for some power generators, according to analysts and government studies. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) said on […]

Trump to lift federal coal ban, other green rules, next week: White House

2 Mar 2017   Coal

U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to sign an executive order next week that lifts a ban on new federal coal mining leases and starts the process of killing other Obama-era initiatives to combat global climate change, a White House official said. “Rescinding federal coal leasing moratorium is part of that executive order, which has lots of different components, including the Clean Power Plan,” the official told Reuters on Wednesday by email, confirming the order was scheduled to come next week. The Clean Power Plan is former President Barack Obama’s centerpiece initiative to combat climate change, and requires states to slash emissions of carbon dioxide. (Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Coal Industry Casts Itself as a Clean Energy Player

27 Feb 2017   Coal

President Trump has questioned the science behind climate change as “a hoax” in positioning himself as a champion of coal. The three largest American coal producers are taking a different tack. Seeking to shore up their struggling industry, the coal producers are voicing greater concern about greenhouse gas emissions. Their goal is to frame a new image for coal as a contributor, not an obstacle, to a clean-energy future — an image intended to foster their legislative agenda. Executives of the three companies — Cloud Peak Energy , Peabody Energy and Arch Coal — are going so far as to make common cause with some of their harshest critics, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force. Together, they are lobbying for a tax bill to expand government subsidies to reduce the environmental impact of coal burning. The technology they are promoting is carbon capture […]

North Korea says China ‘dancing to the tune of the US’

24 Feb 2017   China, Coal, North Korea

Coal exports to China are a key source of cash for the politically isolated nation North Koreans look over coal exports in the border town of Siniuju N Korea condemns Kim death investigation ‘Hunt’ for refugees who helped Snowden Japan ‘baldies’ hold annual get-together

Coal Is Just Too Damn Expensive

24 Feb 2017   Coal

President Trump is ready to start signing executive orders that roll back Obama-era regulations on climate and water pollution: While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production ….One executive order — which the Trump administration will couch as reducing U.S. dependence on other countries for energy — will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric utilities. It also instructs the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing. ….Trump, who signed legislation last week that nullified a recent regulation prohibiting surface-mining operations from dumping waste in nearby waterways, said he was eager to support coal miners who had backed his presidential bid. “The miners are a big deal,” he said Thursday. “I’ve had support from […]

North Korea’s Regime In Jeopardy As China Bans Coal Imports

21 Feb 2017   China, Coal, North Korea

On Saturday, China said that it was suspending all imports of coal from North Korea as part of its effort to implement United Nations Security Council sanctions aimed at stopping the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile program. The ban, according to a statement posted on the website of the Chinese Commerce Ministry, takes effect on today and will last until the end of the year. While China will hardly suffer material adverse impacts, Chinese trade – and aid – have long been a vital economic crutch for North Korea, and the decision strips North Korea of one of its most important sources of foreign currency. The ban comes six days after the North Korean test of a ballistic missile that the Security Council condemned as a violation of its resolutions that prohibited the country from developing and testing ballistic missile technology. In the test, – which took place during […]

China coal firms to discuss moves to stabilize output on Tuesday: media

21 Feb 2017   China, Coal

China’s top coal producers will meet on Tuesday to discuss plans for stabilizing output this year, the official Shanghai Securities News reported. The meeting organized by the China Coal Association will assess current operations and explore further measures to ensure stable output, the newspaper said in a report on its website on Monday. Talk in the market that the government will reinstall daily limits on coal mining output after the winter heating period pushed up thermal coal futures last week. Coke and coking coal futures rose on Monday after Beijing suspended imports of North Korean coal as part of its efforts to implement United Nations sanctions against the country. The output cuts, introduced in April 2016, ordered mines to limit the number of days they operate each year to 276 from 330 […]

China steel mills caught on the hop by North Korea coal ban

21 Feb 2017   China, Coal

China’s steel mills and traders were scrambling to find alternative supplies of coking coal for steel making on Monday after Beijing slapped a surprise ban on coal imports from its isolated northern neighbor. Chinese prices of steel, coking coal and coke all rallied, as traders and analysts said mills will likely be forced to buy more expensive domestic material or seek alternatives further afield from Russia or Australia, driving up costs. While North Korea accounts for only a small portion of China’s total coal imports, it is the main foreign supplier of high-quality thermal coal, called anthracite, which is used to make coke, a key ingredient in steelmaking. “This news really took us by […]

China’s North Korea import ban the latest gyrating coal policy: Russell

20 Feb 2017   China, Coal, North Korea

Coal markets could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused about the recent signals coming out of top importer China, with both bullish and bearish developments in evidence. The most obvious bullish news relates mainly to coking coal used in steel-making, and like many announcements in China it’s political in nature. China said on Feb. 18 that it will suspend all imports of coal from its nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea until Dec. 31, a move that, if implemented, would bring a dramatic halt to cargoes from China’s fourth-biggest supplier of imported coal. The statement from the Ministry of Commerce was brief and didn’t go into reasons for the ban, although it came shortly after Pyongyang tested an intermediate-range ballistic […]

As coal shortfall looms, miners enjoy unexpected boom

10 Feb 2017   Coal

Many a swan song has been sung for thermal coal markets as renewable power generation and a push towards using more natural gas have gained traction. Yet a coal price spike last year, driven by a Chinese change in regulation that capped local mining operations, has shown how easily markets can swing from oversupply to shortfall. While many analysts and investors see the long-term outlook for coal as bleak due to policies and technological advances that favor cleaner natural gas and renewable in power generation, the shorter-term outlook for the industry has seen a sharp reversal of fortunes. This year, strong demand growth in Asia’s emerging markets will create a supply shortfall for the first time in at […]

Warm winter weather in US withering CAPP coal enthusiasm

14 Jan 2017   Coal

The optimism prevalent through the US Central Appalachian coal industry heading into the New Year has started to temper as an expected cold January has failed to materialize. While thermometers dipped last weekend and will do the same during the next few days in some areas as a winter storm moves in, most of the US East has experienced above-average temperatures this month. Days below or even at seasonably normal temperatures have been sporadic, making coal burn inconsistent, utilities said. Multiple market players told S&P Global Platts this week the pattern brings back bad memories of winter in early 2016, when a few cold days were followed by many days of mild temperatures. One CAPP fuel buyer said many utilities already have started to rethink expectations of strong first-quarter 2017 coal consumption. “Everybody’s attitude seems to have changed really quickly,” the buyer said. “Everybody thought we’d have a really […]

US coal exports higher in November, including China-bound cargoes

7 Jan 2017   Coal

US coal exports totaled 5.95 million mt in November, up 34.8% from the prior month and up 39.2% from the year-ago month, US Census data showed Friday. The month also showed the first significant US exports of bituminous coal to China since February 2014. For overall US coal exports, November was the highest monthly total of the year and the highest monthly total since May 2015. Each of the major categories — metallurgical, bituminous and subbituminous — of US coal showed year-to-date highs in November. The increase was due to the rally in seaborne prices for both thermal and met coal that opened up more export opportunities for US coal. S&P Global Platts’ assessment for thermal coal delivered into Northern Europe (CIF ARA, 15-60 day) averaged $80.73/mt in November, up 1.3% from the prior month as the price continued to rally from a low monthly average of $43.59/mt in […]

US coal carloads counts fall 12.5% week on week, drop 20.1% year on year

5 Jan 2017   Coal

US coal carload volumes fell in the final week of 2016, putting year-end totals 20.1% below 2015 counts, railroad and Association of American Railroads data showed Wednesday. For the week that ended Saturday, the AAR reported 68,939 coal carloads traveled US railways, down 12.5% from the previous week but up 3.3% from the same week a year ago. Total 2016 volumes of nearly 4.1 million carloads slid 1.03 million st, or 20.1%, from the previous year. Canadian railroads — which include the US operations of Canadian National, which serves several mines in the Illinois Basin, and Canadian Pacific — originated 7,176 coal carloads for the week, up 2.7% from the prior week and 6.4% from the same week a year ago. Article continues below… Platts Coal Trader provides the latest prices for key benchmark coals, as well as: Daily pricing for tons and allowances for SO2 and NOx emissions […]

This $4.3 Billion Warning Sign Is Flashing In China’s Coal Business

2 Jan 2017   China, Coal

Coal has been one of the big stories of 2016. With this beat-down market taking flight during the last half of the year — lifting stocks of major producers like Peabody Energy to over 700% gains in a matter of weeks. Check out the chart below. (Click to enlarge) A late rebound in the coal market this year lifted Peabody Energy from below $2 per share to over $16 very quickly And news this week suggests things could be looking up further for international producers in this market. With problems apparently mounting in the world’s largest producing nation: China. Chinese coal miners are still struggling under the burden of lower global prices. Which this week forced major lender Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to step in and bail out two big producers. That was Datong Coal Mine Group and Yangquan Coal Industry. Which ICBC said Monday will […]

Outlook For Coal Unlikely To Improve

30 Dec 2016   Coal, USA

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has a lot of implications for a lot of different segments of the economy – coal may not be one of them. The uphill battle for coal in the U.S. appears to be getting even steeper with Western States starting to increasingly look to natural gas and renewable energy for power consumption rather than coal. Moreover, the change is being driven by economics rather than regulatory requirements or concern over the environment. President Trump will have a lot of power – power to enact new rules, power to push new legislation, and power to remove old regulations. None of that will help to change the fundamental economics of coal which are increasingly pointing to more mine closures . Renewable power is consistently becoming cheaper, and the glut of natural gas continues to make it one of the most […]

Peabody extends debt deadline amid creditor support

30 Dec 2016   Coal

Peabody Energy Corp said on Thursday it extended a deadline for creditors to join financing deals aimed at bringing the largest U.S. coal miner out of bankruptcy amid growing creditor support for its plan of reorganization. Last week, Peabody unveiled its plan to eliminate more than $5 billion of debt and raise capital from creditors with a $750 million private placement and a $750 million rights offering. The financing agreements were funded by key creditors that signed on to a plan support agreement with Peabody, although a portion of those deals were reserved for other noteholders if they agreed to back Peabody’s plan by Wednesday. Peabody said in a statement the deadline was extended to Friday for Peabody […]

China to cap 2017 energy consumption at 4.4 bln tonns coal equivalent

29 Dec 2016   China, Coal

China aims to cap total primary energy consumption at around 4.4 billion tons of coal equivalent in 2017, the director of the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Wednesday, close to 2016 levels as the country continues a push to use cleaner fuel. The world’s biggest consumer of energy plans to lift the ratio of natural gas in its energy mix to 6.8 percent next year from 5.9 percent in 2015, Nur Bekri, director of the NEA told a conference in Beijing. He said the goal was to reduce coal consumption to around 60 percent of the total next year from 64 percent in 2015. His remarks came as China enters the third year of a “war on pollution”, with previous years of blistering energy demand growth putting China’s environment […]

Rule Tightens Restrictions on Coal Mining Near Streams

20 Dec 2016   Coal, Water

The Interior Department on Monday issued a rule putting tighter restrictions on coal mining near streams, one of several environmental rules President-elect Donald Trump has targeted to undo once he takes office in January. The department has been working on the rule, which sets tougher standards for water quality and requires companies to restore streams more comprehensively after mining activities, for nearly all of President Barack Obama’s time in the White House. It is one of several regulations the administration is releasing in the 11th-hour of Mr. Obama’s eight-year presidency. Deriding the rule as “excessive,” Mr. Trump cited it as one of several he would rescind as president on his transition website soon after his surprise victory in the presidential contest. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump often accused Mr. Obama of waging a […]

China coal output trend points to lower seaborne prices

14 Dec 2016   China, Coal

When it comes to China’s coal production, is it more important that output in November recorded yet another decline year-on-year, or that it rose for a second straight month? The inclination is often to take the number and interpret it in the way that best suits the narrative you wish to tell. If you want to be bullish on coal prices, the 5.1 percent decline in domestic coal production to 308.1 million tonnes in November from the same month in 2015 would be your focus. If you wanted to be bearish, the fact that coal production rose 9 percent from October, the second straight monthly gain, is more vital. October’s coal output was 281.85 million tonnes, meaning that in volume terms China mined 26.25 million tonnes more in November. […]

Peabody Bondholders Tout Donald Trump’s Plan to Roll Back Emission Rules

14 Dec 2016   Coal, USA

President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to roll back the Obama administration’s signature proposal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be a boon to creditors of Peabody Energy Corp., according to bondholders who want a say in the coal miner’s debt restructuring. The bondholders cite Mr. Trump’s election , as well as a rally in coal prices, to argue in a recent court filing that the value of Peabody’s business has “increased dramatically” since the miner sought chapter 11 protection. As a result, the bondholders say there should be ample value to pay them at the conclusion of Peabody’s restructuring. According to one company shareholder, metallurgical coal prices have increased 235%, and thermal coal prices have increased 77% since Peabody filed for bankruptcy in April. Peabody’s bondholders, however, are also buoyed by Mr. Trump’s promises to […]

Growth in global coal demand to slow over next five years: IEA

12 Dec 2016   Coal

Growth in global coal demand will slow over the next five years due to lower consumption in China and the United States and as renewable energy sources gain ground, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday. The IEA said last year that the world’s top coal consumer, China, could be facing peak coal demand for the first time due to measures to cap coal use to tackle air pollution and curb excess supply. “In China, coal demand is in structural and slow decline driven by a new economic growth model and diversification of coal,” the Paris-based IEA said in its medium-term coal market report. Even though China’s consumption is likely to have peaked, the country will still be […]

Trump needs to think long term to really help coal: industry executives

7 Dec 2016   Coal

A Donald Trump White House will likely give a boost for the US coal industry and do away with key current and pending environmental regulations, but significant policies need to be put in place to make long-term improvements to the coal business, industry executives said Tuesday. Fred Palmer, partner at Total Spectrum/Steve Gordon and Associates and former senior vice president of government relations at Peabody Energy, and Richard Reavey, vice president of public affairs at Cloud Peak Energy, each spoke at the Coal Trading Association’s 15th annual Coal Trading Conference in New York about how President-elect Trump could bring life into an improving but long-ailing industry. Palmer called the election of a Trump “a key moment in US history” and said he expected the country will move forward and support his pro-coal energy policies. “It will be an American Renaissance; an energy Renaissance; a fossil fuel Renaissance, and coal […]

Trump’s Cruel Promise to Bring Jobs Back to Coal Country

5 Dec 2016   Coal

Paul Lewis and Tom Silverstone asked out-of-work coal miners why they supported Donald Trump. The answer was simple. Hillary Clinton literally promised that if she were elected, there would be “a lot of coal miners out of work.” Donald Trump promised to reopen the coal mines and get miners back to work. But that’s unlikely to happen. A Brief History of Coal US coal production dropped 10.3 percent year over year in 2015. It’s now below 900 million short tons, the lowest annual production level since 1986. EIA Coal Report In late 2015 and early 2016, Peabody Energy , Arch Coal , Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal all filed for bankruptcy. In a statement announcing the bankruptcy, Peabody blamed “a dramatic drop in the price of metallurgical coal, weakness in the Chinese economy, overproduction of domestic shale gas, and ongoing regulatory challenges” for the “unprecedented” industry downturn in […]

Coal price surge sets miners against activists by English seaside

28 Nov 2016   Coal, United Kingdom

In northeastern England, a battle is raging between grass roots campaigners and a company intent on digging a new open cast mine as world coal prices soar. A year after Britain closed its last deep coal mine and pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation, the economics of mining have been transformed. Coal prices have risen by well over 100 percent this year to $100 a tonne. Some mining stocks have risen even more, spurred by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s pledges to revive coal and pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Some wonder how long the coal price surge will last, but in Northumberland, the Banks Group is pressing ahead with plans for a new mine despite opposition from local environmentalists. Northumberland […]

China to probe illegal expansion in coal, steel sectors

24 Nov 2016   China, Coal

China will send inspection teams to investigate and severely punish illegal expansion by coal and steel firms as part of its efforts to slim down the two industries, the country’s cabinet said on Thursday. With most of the country’s steel and coal enterprises making losses in 2015, China promised in February to slash 500 million tonnes of coal production capacity and 100 million to 150 million tonnes of crude steel capacity over the next three to five years in a bid to reduce price-sapping supply gluts. The State Council said in a notice posted on China’s official government website ( ) that this year’s targeted closures had already been “basically completed”, but some firms were still illegally expanding capacity. The cabinet named as culprits the Hebei […]

Will coal price retreat be a Dunkirk or Stalingrad?: Russell

22 Nov 2016   Coal, Prices

It may be a tad early to call a peak in the price of thermal coal in top-consuming region Asia, but at the very least the momentum seems to have been lost from a commodity that has surged some 130 percent in the past 10 months. If coal prices have already peaked, the question is which of the World War II battles of Dunkirk or Stalingrad will the retreat most resemble. A Dunkirk-style retreat would see coal prices hold on to much of their gains this year, just as the British Army managed to keep much of its fighting strength by evacuating from France in the face of a German victory in 1941. A Stalingrad-style defeat would see coal prices surrender most of […]

Trump’s Coal Delusions

22 Nov 2016   Coal

During the second presidential debate on October 9, Republican presidential nominee (now President-Elect) Donald Trump claimed that “clean coal” could meet the energy needs of the United States for the next 1,000 years. Now that Mr. Trump will be in the position of making national energy policy, it’s worth examining that assertion. First, does our nation really have 1,000 years’ worth of coal? No official agency thinks so. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates United States coal reserves at 477 billion short tons, a little over 500 years’ worth. But this calculation is probably highly misleading. A 2007 study by the National Academy of Sciences criticized the history of systematically inflated national coal reserves figures, while still allowing that, “there is probably sufficient coal to meet the nation’s coal needs for more than 100 years.” Still other studies ratchet that “100 years” down much further. In 2009 I spent […]

Canada Aims to Fully Phase Out Coal Power by 2030

22 Nov 2016   Canada, Coal

Canada plans to completely phase out traditional coal power by 2030 and will work with the country’s four remaining provinces that still burn the fossil fuel to reach the overall goal, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said on Monday. The move is the latest measure Canada is taking to meet greenhouse-gas reduction targets by 2030, and follows the introduction of a nationwide carbon levy that starts in 2018. The new plan also comes amid a pledge by President-elect Donald Trump to revive the U.S. coal industry’s fortunes. Ms. McKenna, just back from a United Nations-sponsored climate-change conference in Morocco, said coal power in Canada currently represents close to 10% of greenhouse-gas emissions coming from four provinces—Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Provinces will have the option to choose between phasing out coal entirely and […]

India aims to boost low-grade coal sales while global prices high

21 Nov 2016   Coal, India

India is trying to boost sales of its low-quality coal by offering more of the fuel at home and initiating steps to lower freight costs, while global prices are high, with the government hoping the moves will help cut imports. State-controlled Coal India, the world’s largest miner of the fuel, has sharply boosted output in the past two years but has struggled to sell all of that due to softer domestic demand and the availability of superior-grade foreign coal at competitive rates, until recently. Benchmark Australian coal prices have more than doubled this year, helped by reduced Chinese mining and strong demand across Asia and Europe just when exporters cut output. But prices have begun to recoil this month as China eased restrictions on domestic mining. “Our prices are already very competitive,” India’s Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told Reuters. “If transportation costs can be brought down, more and more […]

IEA cuts coal growth outlook in half as China peaks

18 Nov 2016   China, Coal

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has dramatically scaled back its outlook for coal demand growth over the next 25 years, Carbon Brief analysis shows. The 2016 World Energy Outlook sees global coal demand rise by 214 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) by 2040, less than half the 485Mtoe increase it expected last year. The IEA is also now persuaded that Chinese coal demand peaked in 2013. Nonetheless, its central outlook sees coal use in 2040 being more than twice as high as needed for a 2C path. This coal disparity is the largest obstacle to meeting global climate goals, the report shows. Carbon Brief looks at what the World Energy Outlook means for coal and the climate. Coal challenge Coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. It was responsible for 46% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2014, the IEA says, despite meeting only 29% of demand for […]

Coal: After the surge, how low can it go?

17 Nov 2016   China, Coal

A wave that has lifted some coal prices to more than double in the last six months may be about to ebb away, turned back by China’s move to loosen the restrictions on domestic mining that first triggered the fuel’s rise. Australian Newcastle cargo prices, Asia’s benchmark, have fallen 7.8 percent in November already, slipping to $105.75 per metric ton from almost $115 at the start of the month, their highest since 2012. On Thursday, China’s state planner moved to ease production curbs ahead of peak winter demand for heating fuels, allowing mines 54 more working days a year. It was a Beijing move earlier this year to cap domestic mining to cut […]

Can Trump End The War On Coal?

16 Nov 2016   Coal

Coal shipping The “war” on coal is, to us, about as real as the “war” on Christmas. It’s an artifact of political speech which, by its nature, does little to discourage exaggeration. Statements like that may also provide a sense of direction but no clear energy policy guidance. What we see, instead, is a revival of former Vice President’s Cheney’s energy policy: pro-supply measures and little interest in either environmental niceties or economics. We knew a group of economists called in by Cheney’s policy advisors. They discussed electric power pricing and the power of the free market to reduce demand by encouraging more efficient use of energy. The policy advisors told the economists that they did not like a policy of doing more with less. The economists, all staunch conservatives, were left to wonder if that meant the government wanted the country to do less with more. Thus, for […]

US elections have ‘marginal effect’ on coal in 2017 as demand key

16 Nov 2016   Coal

The US elections could have only a “marginal effect” in 2017 on the coal industry, although market tailwinds could still provide a boost, analysts said Tuesday. According to Lucas Pipes, a Washington-based analyst for FBR, demand is the most pressing question for analysts and producers in 2017 following a year when electric power coal consumption is expected to drop to 680.5 million st, its lowest level since 1984. “Investors also wanted to know to what extent a Trump administration could increase demand, versus just halting the previously anticipated decline in coal burn,” Pipes said. “Producers noted that aggregate electricity demand could improve, yielding higher coal plant utilizations.” Coal also will likely be a secondary beneficiary from planned investments in US infrastructure, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Evan Kurtz, based in New York City. Article Continues below… Platts US Election Webinar View the replay on-demand During this free event, we […]

Britain to officially shutter all coal power plants by 2025

15 Nov 2016   Coal, United Kingdom

The last coal power station in Britain will be forced to close in 2025, the government said as it laid out its plan to phase-out the polluting fossil fuel. Ministers promised last year that the UK would close coal power within a decade and replace it with gas and other sources to meet its climate change commitments. But in a delayed consultation on the phase-out, published on Wednesday , officials admitted that the last coal power station was likely to shutter in 2022 even without government intervention, prompting calls from campaigners to bring forward the cut-off year. Greg Clark, the energy secretary, said the move sent a clear signal to the world that the UK was a good place to invest in clean energy. “Taking unabated coal power out of our energy […]

Can Trump Really Revive The U.S. Coal Industry?

14 Nov 2016   Coal

 With the election of Donald Trump as President, forecasters and analysts are dashing to determine how his policies are likely to affect global energy. It’s likely that his measures will benefit oil and gas, though his consistent vagueness and apparent confusion over industry fundamentals makes that somewhat unlikely. But where Trump has been somewhat vague on oil and gas, he’s been positively exuberant about coal. A key point in the Trump campaign’s energy and economic plan was the rejuvenation of the American coal industry. This position was a component of Trump’s broader attempt to appeal to white working class American voters. But can he deliver? As many analysts have observed over the last year, coal is in trouble. Rising production costs, environmental regulations and heavy competition from cheap natural gas has cratered coal profits. The largest coal companies in America, including Peabody Energy, have filed for bankruptcy. […]

China’s total thermal coal imports and volumes from Australia rise 33% on year in Q3

11 Nov 2016   China, Coal

China’s imports of thermal coal in July-September grew 33% year on year with China-bound exports from Australia matching the growth rate, the Australian government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said Friday. China’s thermal coal imports totalled 56 million mt during the three-month period with Indonesia supplying the majority with 51% and volumes from Australia accounted for 24% of the total, the department said in its China Resources Quarterly report. The 33% year-on-year growth in Australian supply to China took the figure for the quarter to 10 million mt, the report said. The growth was mainly driven by mandated production cuts in China, while the country’s electricity generation from coal increased by 10% year on year in July-September and thermal coal’s share of the electricity mix in China increased slightly to 73%, up from 72% a year earlier, it said. Article Continues below… Platts Coal Trader International is the […]

In 2015, U.S. coal production, consumption, and employment fell by more than 10%

11 Nov 2016   Coal

U.S. coal production dropped by more than 10% in 2015 to 897 million short tons (MMst), the lowest production level since 1986. Production in all three major coal-producing regions (the Appalachian, the Interior, and the Western) declined, as consumption of coal for electric power generation, industrial, and other uses fell by 13% to 798 MMst in 2015. Employment at U.S. coal mines fell 12% to about 66,000 employees in 2015, the lowest level since EIA began collecting coal mining employment data in 1978. The declining trend has continued into 2016 as indicated by the most recent weekly coal production data: U.S. year-to-date coal production as of October 29, 2016, totaled approximately 607 MMst, 20% lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2015. EIA’s Annual Coal Report compiles annual data on several coal metrics such as production, consumption, stocks, prices, […]

Smog Chokes Delhi, Leaving Residents ‘Cowering by Our Air Purifiers’

9 Nov 2016   Air Quality, Coal, India

For days, many in Delhi have been living as if under siege, trying to keep the dirty air away from their children and older parents. But it is not easy: Open a window or a door, and the haze enters the room within seconds. Outside, the sky is white, the sun a white circle so pale that you can barely make it out. The smog is acrid, eye-stinging and throat-burning, and so thick that it is being blamed for a 70-vehicle pileup north of the city. If in past years Delhi’s roughly 20 million residents shrugged off wintertime pollution as fog, over the past week they viewed it as a crisis. Schools have been ordered closed for three days — an unprecedented measure, but not a reassuring one because experts say the concentration of pollutants inside Indian homes is typically not much lower than outside. Levels […]

Under government pressure, China’s top coal miners to cut long-term prices

9 Nov 2016   China, Coal

China’s state economic planner said two of the nation’s top coal mines signed long-term supply contracts with utilities at a quarter below current spot market rates, as the government ramps up its efforts to cool the red-hot market. Shenhua Energy Co and ChinaCoal Energy Co agreed to sell their coal at 535 yuan ($79) per tonne under long-term deals which start as soon as Dec. 1, Xu Kunlin, vice secretary general of the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), said at a briefing on Wednesday. NDRC officials said the contract price would be a reference point that could fluctuate depending on market conditions and may even last longer than one year. The NDRC is encouraging the miners to sign supply deals with power companies for as long as a […]

China Doubles Down on Coal Despite Climate Pledge

8 Nov 2016   China, Coal

China’s government said it would raise coal power capacity by as much as 20% by 2020, ensuring a continuing strong role for the commodity in the country’s energy sector despite a pledge to bring down pollution levels. In a new five-year plan for electricity released Monday, the National Energy Administration said it would raise coal-fired power capacity from around 900 gigawatts last year to as high as 1,100 gigawatts by 2020. The roughly 200-gigawatt increase alone is more than the total power capacity of Canada. By comparison, the agency said it would increase non-fossil fuel sources from about 12% to 15% of the country’s energy mix over the same period. Coal would still make up about 55% of the electricity mix by 2020, down from around two-thirds in recent years. “This is indeed a […]

China to cap coal at 55 percent of total power output by 2020: NEA

7 Nov 2016   China, Coal

China aims to cap coal-fired power capacity at 1,100 gigawatts by 2020, higher than the current ceiling but accounting for less of the country’s total power supply, as the top global energy market seeks to increase the use of cleaner renewable fuels. Announcing its five-year plan for the power industry, the National Energy Administration (NEA) on Monday said China aimed to have 2,000 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity by 2020, of which at least 320 gigawatts, or 16 percent, would come from solar and wind power and 110 gigawatts from natural gas. That would bring China much more in line with current power generation mixes in the United […]

Mississippi Power Further Delays Kemper Plant; Cost Nears $7 Billion

5 Nov 2016   Air Quality, Coal

Mississippi Power Co. now says it won’t complete its Kemper County power plant until the end of the year, a delay of a month that pushes up the price tag by $25 million to nearly $7 billion. The company announced the delay Friday as its Atlanta-based parent Southern Co. filed quarterly stock disclosures, saying ratepayers wouldn’t have to pay the $25 million. The documents show that if the coal-fueled plant doesn’t start commercial operation by Dec. 31, Mississippi Power would have to repay $250 million of previously received tax benefits. Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard didn’t immediately respond to questions about the potential repayment. The plant and associated coal mine were originally supposed to cost $2.9 billion at most, and earliest estimates were lower. Stockholders have absorbed $2.6 billion in losses, while customers […]

Battered U.S. coal industry hopes for Trump, prepares for Clinton

5 Nov 2016   Coal

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has won over the U.S. coal industry by promising to revive the downtrodden sector and scrap regulations if elected. But the industry has a Plan B if the New York businessman loses to his more green-minded Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on Tuesday: carbon capture and storage, a technology that captures carbon dioxide from burning coal and injects it underground, where many scientists are optimistic it cannot contribute to global warming. Coal backers see CCS as a politically feasible solution that could help the next president thread the needle between environmentalists and a once-powerful business that is in desperate need of a lifeline. They have been pushing both major party […]

Finland considers ban on coal-fired power stations by 2030: Rehn

3 Nov 2016   Coal, Finland

Finnish government is considering banning all coal-fired power stations by 2030 to help meet emission reduction goals, Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn said on Wednesday. coal-fired power generation accounted for 7 percent of all electricity production last year, with 45 percent coming from renewable sources and 34 percent from nuclear, according to Statistics Finland. “Finland is well positioned to be among the first countries in the world to enact a law to ban coal … This will be my proposal,” Rehn told Reuters. The ban, if approved by all coalition partners, would be part of the Nordic country’s new energy strategy, which the centre-right government is due to present to parliament later this month. “Giving up coal is the only way to reach international climate goals,” […]

China’s coal imports surge again, but how long can the party last?: Russell

2 Nov 2016   China, Coal

China’s imports of coal from the seaborne market surged again in October, thereby justifying the jump in prices but also raising questions as to how much more of the fuel the world’s top buyer can suck in. Seaborne coal imports were 20.03 million tonnes for October, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts. This is the highest monthly total since Thomson Reuters stated assessing the data in January 2015, and shows that China’s appetite for imports remains undiminished in spite of a spike in the prices of both thermal and coking coal. The seaborne data doesn’t exactly match Chinese customs data as it excludes shipments from North […]

Coal exporters wary of end to Chinese benevolence: Russell

21 Oct 2016   China, Coal

The problem with coal’s spectacular rally this year is that it’s largely a Chinese political phenomenon, and what Chinese politicians give they can just as easily take away. Australian thermal coal spot cargoes at Newcastle port for November this week breached $100 a tonne for the first time in 4-1/2 years, closing on Tuesday at $102.20 and taking this year’s rally to almost 120 percent. There was much head-scratching this week at the annual World Coal Leaders conference in Lisbon over how virtually every analyst worldwide had misread the Chinese market, where imports have surged to 180.18 million tonnes in the first […]

U.S. coal industry hopes for respite after perfect storm: Kemp

19 Oct 2016   Coal

The massive Big John dragline works to reshape the rocky landscape in some of the last sections to be mined for coal at the Hobet site in Boone County, West Virginia, U.S. May 12, 2016. U.S. coal producers have been struck by a range of structural and cyclical factors that hit consumption hard and forced many of them to seek bankruptcy protection during 2015 and 2016. The problem of excess coal production and stocks built up gradually throughout 2014 and 2015 but the warm winter of 2015/16 pushed the industry into a crisis ( ). Coal-fired power generation slumped by almost 23 percent during the winter of 2015/16 compared with winter 2014/15 while gas-fired generation fell only 12 percent. The backdrop to the industry’s problems is concern about climate change and toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants, which is producing a structural shift away from coal combustion. The […]