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A week in coal: 10 October 2014

World Coal,

As another week draws to an end, we present some of the stories from the global coal industry that caught the eye of the World Coal news team this week. 

On the shoulders of giants

Nestled beside the coal consuming energy behemoth of China in central Asia, Tajikistan is small fry when it comes to scales of global coal production. Yet the country’s coal sector is nonetheless growing at a significant rate. Recent data from the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies reported 180% growth in coal production year-on-year. Though not quite at the 1 million tpa mark, recent figures suggest that for this small Asian nation’s coal industry, the only way is up.

How the mighty have fallen

The future is far from certain for mining giant Rio Tinto, which this week completed the sale of its Mozambique assets for a fraction of the price it originally paid for them. The company has made significant losses as it sold Coal Mozambique to Coal Venture Private Ltd for just US$ 50 million – after initially purchasing them for US$ 3.7 billion in 2011. Rio’s stakeholders will feel that write-down where it hurts: their pockets.

Rio and Glencore remain tight lipped over mooted merger

The mining industry loves a good takeover story, particularly those shrouded in a good measure of gossip and intrigue. This week we learned from both Rio Tinto and Glencore that there most certainly were not – definitely not, in fact – discussions taking place between the two giants in regard to a possible merger. Why would anyone even think there was? The notion is plaintively ridiculous, as both companies explained (in slightly different words) in two separate public statements. Both companies accepted that, yes, Glencore had enquired in July as to whether a merger might be on the cards. However, the notion has been rebuffed by Rio, whose financial and legal advisors concluded unanimously that a combination was not in the best interests of shareholders.

Stepping on the (coal seam) gas

The Australian coalbed methane (CBM) industry – known to professionals from the land down under as coal seam gas – has been enjoying some success with regulatory authorities of late. More success came this week, as Arrow Energy’s CBM pipeline received approval from the Federal Government. The pipeline will be built in the Bowen Basin in Queensland and will be a key piece of infrastructure in bringing gas to market.

Glasgow goes fossil fuel free for ‘Stoptober’ (and possibly forever)

Readers in the UK may well be familiar with the ‘Stoptober’ campaign, where charities urge people to give up their vices, such as smoking and drinking, for the month of October. It seems the campaign has reached the ears of Glasgow University’s court, which voted this week to divest £18 million from coal and other fossil fuels. The divestment is the first of its kind from an academic institution in Europe and follows similar moves from the universities of Stanford and Sydney. The student-led campaign celebrated victory, however, not celebrating will be those people in poorer countries with little or no access to electricity, who rely on coal for their basis energy needs. Coal industry professionals have labeled the divestiture campaign “politically expedient”. 

Written by Sam Dodson

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