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A week in coal: 9 January 2015

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World Coal,

The coal news was dominated this week by the strike by workers at Coal India (CIL), India’s state-owned coal mining behemoth. The workers were protesting at perceived moves by the government to open the industry up to private sector involvement by allowing private companies to mine and sell coal – rather than just mine for captive use as is currently the case. Although it was called off after just a day (the unions had promised five days of action), this is a story that is likely to run and run as the government of Narendra Modi battles India’s chronic shortage of power.

Elsewhere, there was good news on the mine safety front in the US with the Mine Safety and Health Administration announcing 2014 set a record for the lowest number of deaths at US coal mines – 16. But that’s still 16 too many.

In Europe, the UK government announced an £8 million loan to the Hatfield coal mine to support a “managed closure plan”. The mine is due to shut in 2016 with the loss of 500 jobs – the last of the UK’s underground mines.

Meanwhile, the Polish government said it expects the cost of restructuring the country’s ailing coal industry to be about US$630 million. According to Reuters, the restructuring will see four mines close at Kompania Weglowa – Europe’s largest coal mining company – with the remaining nine transferred to a special purpose company owned by Polish coal trader Weglokoks.

And finally a glimmer of positive news: in a recent survey by Timetric, African miners said they expect to increase their spending on new equipment and maintenance with 65% of responders saying they would spend more on plant and heavy equipment this year. The trend is broadly indicative of a growing mining sector, said Cliff Smee, Timetric’s Lead Analyst.

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