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A week in coal: 28 November 2014

Published by
World Coal,

A slow week for coal news this week but we’ve dug deep and here’s our pick of five stories from the industry.

No surprise here

President Obama’s climate change envoy surprised no-one this week when he expressed the opinion that many fossil fuel resources would have to stay in the ground in order to solve global warming. “We are not going to get rid of fossil fuel overnight but we are not going to solve climate change on the basis of all the fossil fuels that are in the ground are going to have to come out. That’s pretty obvious,” said Todd Stern.

Or here

Also not surprising anyone, a new report – endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA) – said that electricity prices in West Virginia would rise if the US Environmental Protection Agency’s “assault on coal” continued. “We have warned about this ‘perfect storm’ for the past six years. Now the storm is no longer out there over the horizon. It is hitting us now. And it isn’t just hitting us. This storm will impact the entire country and the result will be more more lasting and more catastrophic than any hurricane,” said Chris Hamilton of the WVCA.

But (a bit) more positive news on the other side of the Pond

In the UK, however, coal-fired power saw a resurgence towards the end of the third quarter, according to EnAppSys, as a number of coal-fired power plants came back online after summer maintenance work. “As the quarter progressed, gas prices increased due to rising demand fuelled by colder weather and fears that Russia could stop gas flowing into Europe through Ukraine. This made gas plants less competitive and boosted coal’s share of the fuel mix in September,” said Paul Verrill of EnAppSys. “By the end of the quarter, the gas and coal-fired fleets were producing similar levels of generation.”

Best of friends

In Australia, Glencore and Peabody Energy announced plans to form a joint venture, combining their neighbouring assets in the Hunter Valley, in a bid to reduce costs. The plan would see workers from Peabody’s Wambo mine move to Glencore’s United mine in mid-2017 with Glencore running mining operations and Peabody running coal washing and loadout facilities. The United mine is currently idled.

A successful hunt

And staying in the Hunter Valley, Rio Tinto announced a “significant’ increase in its reserves there from 1331 million t to 1877 million t. “This discovery of greater coal reserves and resources is the result of more than a year’s work and forms part of our wider efforts to deliver greater value to our shareholders. We continue to examine our asset base for further opportunities,” said Chris Salisbury, managing director of Rio Tinto Coal Australia. “Our extensive reserve and resource base, further amplified by this latest announcement, provides many options to sustain and grow our business in the Hunter Valley for many decades to come.”

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