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A week in coal: 6 February 2015

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World Coal,

This week saw the approval of a number of new mines by New South Wales’ (NSW) Planning Assessment Committee (PAC). Rio Tinto received approval for its Bengalla mine extension plan, while Yancoal’s Moorlaben expansion plans also got the nod. This follows the decision last week by the PAC to approve Shenhua’s Watermark coal mine. NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee, welcomed the PAC’s decisions as “good news for the region and good news for mining families.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, miners, politicians and union leaders marched in support of the Kellingley mine in Yorkshire, the UK, which is scheduled to close at the end of the year with the loss of 700 jobs. Plans have been submitted to keep the mine open until the end of 2018 but the government has ruled out providing the necessary funding, saying it “wouldn’t be good value for money.” Kellingley is one of only three deep mines still open the UK, along will Thoresby and Hatfield.

Across the Atlantic and the US government is also keeping hold of its cash, having withdrawn its support of the FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Illinois. Without the Department of Energy (DOE) funds, the project will close. Separately – and in a case of particularly unfortunate timing – the US National Coal Council released a new report calling on the DOE to step up its support of CCS in the US, arguing that a robust CCS industry in the US would benefit the American people and lead to the development of lower-cost, near-zero-emission energy technology.

Staying in the US and the Texas Mining and Reclamation Association (TMRA) provide one of this week’s guest special reports, highlighting the economic benefits that lignite mining and the lignite-related industry provide in the Lone Star State. “The study confirmed that economic activity generated by these industries spark business activity up and down their respective supply chains, creating new jobs and income for Texas residents,” said the association.

And finally, the IEA Clean Coal Centre released a new report this week, studying the growing global market for mercury control systems in the coal-fired power industry. According to the report, the market is likely to grow as signatory countries to the US Minamata Convention will require mercury abatement technology on all new plants and have to propose national action plans for controlling emissions from existing plants.

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