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A week in coal: 13 March 2015

Published by
World Coal,

This week has been overshadowed by the tragic news of fatalities at a US and an Australian coal mine. At the beginning of the week, it was announced that one miner had died and two more hospitalised after a roof collapse at Murray Energy Corp.’s Marshall County coal mine in West Virginia – the first fatality in the state this year. Then on Thursday it was reported that another miner had been killed at BHP Billiton’s Blackwater coal operations in a truck accident. It is the second fatal accident as a Queensland mine in a month, following the death of a miner at Anglo Americans Dawson mine. Both are reminders of the daily dangers that miners face in extracting coal.

Away from the coal face and Bank of American Merrill Lynch dropped its price forecast for coal for this year and next. The bank now expects coal prices to average US$57/t this year (down from US$65/t) and US$52/t next year (down from US$72/t). “Overall the global outlook for thermal coal demand is rather bleak in 2015 and 2016,” it concluded.

More positively, a new report from the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh has highlighted the substantial economic benefits gained from longwall mining in two Pennsylvanie counties. “Longwall mining has long been the economic backbone of Greene and Washington Counties,” said State Representative Pam Snyder. “This report demonstrates just how much this mining process provides in employment and taxes that drive the community in my district.”

And finally, in an op-ed for World Coal, Janet Gellici, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the National Coal Council, argued that the cost of meeting climate change objectives without carbon capture and storage will be much higher than with the technology.

“Although today’s CCS technologies may increase energy production costs, it is substantially less expensive to include CCS as part of the mitigation portfolio than to exclude it,” Gellici said. “In fact, the IEA has estimated that the exclusion of CCS as a technology option for the power sector alone would increase mitigation costs by around US$2 trillion by 2050 – a 70% increase in cost due to the higher estimated cost of alternatives, including renewables.”

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