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A week in coal: 19 December 2014

World Coal,

In our final weekly wrap-up of news from the global coal industry, we give you the top stories that caught our eye last week.

UK Government in clean coal pledge

The UK Government has pledged £2.5 million for the further evaluation of CO2 storage sites beneath the North Sea. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has provided the funding through its Innovation Fund to help identify the next phase of storage sites, which will be suitable for the secure and long-term storage of CO2 captured at coal and gas power plants, as well as heavy industry, such as steel and cement factories. 

Committed to Scottish coal

Coal mining firm Hargreaves Services said it remains committed to its Scottish coal business, despite ongoing weakness in international coal prices. The company said falling coal prices would mean it only targeted a break-even result from its Scottish mining operations during the next financial year. Finance Director of Hargreaves, Iain Cockburn, said the company remained committed to coal mining in Scotland and would target resources on the most cost effective sites if prices continued to fluctuate.

Green light for new coal terminal at Port of Newcastle

The proposed fourth coal terminal at the Port of Newcastle in Australia has been recommended for approval, despite the softening coal market and amid strong objections from the local community. Whether the new terminal will prove a viable long-term solution or become a short-term folly remains to be seen. In recommending the project was approvable, the Planning Assessment Commission review for T4 acknowledged that world demand for coal has softened and that there is no immediate need for the new terminal until around 2023. The T4 coal export terminal will expand capacity at the world’s largest coal export port by another 70 million tpy. The cost of the terminal has been set at AUS$4.8 billion.

All eyes on QCLNG

The expectant eyes of industry analysts, traders, oil and gas professionals and many more will be trained on BG Group’s Queensland Curtis Island LNG project, which will convert gas from coal seams into LNG and export it oversees. The project, which is the first of its kind, is set to ship its first batch of CBM-LNG before the New Year, and the first tanker is currently en route for the terminal. The ship, BG-owned Methane Rita Andrea, will pick up the LNG and take it to an as yet unknown destination, though analysts predict it will most likely be China.

What to look for in 2015

As volatile 2014 comes to a close, Wood Mackenzie has compiled a new reportHorizons: what to look for in 2015, which sees potentially damaging effects on coal industry players caused by China’s shift toward cleaner consumption of energy. According to the analysts, in 2015, the behaviour of Chinese consumers, the strength of the economy and the policy direction taken by the government will set the scene for energy and metals demand growth over the medium term.

Written by Sam Dodson

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