India plans to fell ancient forest to create 40 new coalfields

India plans to fell ancient forest to create 40 new coalfields

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 8, 2020 SNIP: Over the past decade, Umeshwar Singh Amra has witnessed his homeland descend into a battleground. The war being waged in Hasdeo Arand, a rich and biodiverse Indian forest, has pitted indigenous people, ancient trees, elephants and sloths against the might of bulldozers, trucks and hydraulic jacks, fighting with a single purpose: the extraction of coal. Yet under a new “self-reliant India” plan by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, to boost the economy post-Covid-19 and reduce costly imports, 40 new coalfields in some of India’s most ecologically sensitive forests are to be opened up for commercial mining. Among them are four huge blocks of Hasdeo Arand’s 420,000 acres of forest in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, which sit above an estimated 5bn tonnes of coal. It marks a significant shift. The coal industry in India is state-owned, but this auction of 40 new coal blocks will see the creation of a privatised, commercial coal sector in India. Among those bidding for it are India’s rich and powerful industrial giants, including the $14bn (£11bn) Adani group run by the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, who operates India’s largest coal power plants and has close ties to Modi. The coal auction has already proved controversial at both the local and political level. At least seven of the coal blocks up for auction were previously deemed “no go” areas for mining due to their environmentally valuable status and about 80% of the blocks are home to indigenous communities and thick forest cover. Four state governments – West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh – have written...
Australia Fast-Tracks a $1 Billion Coal Mine

Australia Fast-Tracks a $1 Billion Coal Mine

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: June 11, 2020 SNIP: A giant Glencore Plc coal project in Australia has been fast-tracked as the nation turns to its vast natural resources to lift the economy out of its first recession in almost three decades. The A$1.5 billion ($1 billion) Valeria mine in Queensland has been designated a “coordinated project”, which the state said Friday would help to get new jobs happening quicker. That comes as the national government stands firm in the face of calls at home and abroad to shift away from the highly polluting fuel. “This new mine has the potential to create hundreds of new jobs as Queensland recovers from the extraordinary shock of the global coronavirus pandemic,” state Treasurer Cameron Dick said. “Coal mining has a long history in Queensland and will continue to be a major industry for many years to come.” The coal industry brings in around A$70 billion in annual export revenue. The government is betting on strong consumption of the fuel in Asia. Glencore’s proposed mine in the state’s Bowen Basin coal heartland will produce around 20 million tons a year of thermal and metallurgical coal, equal to about 4% of the nation’s output. That’s double the size of Adani’s controversial Carmichael project, also in Queensland, which has been targeted by climate activists for potentially opening up a new region to coal mining. Pembroke Resources Pty’s 15-million-ton-a-year Olive Downs met coal project, also in the Bowen Basin, is proceeding with the state’s backing after receiving environmental approval last month. Queensland is also encouraging the development of new gas resources, with a joint venture between Royal...
Coal mines emit more methane than oil-and-gas sector, study finds

Coal mines emit more methane than oil-and-gas sector, study finds

SOURCE: Carbon Brief DATE: March 24, 2020 SNIP: Methane emissions from coal mines could be more than double previous estimates, according to a new study. The fossil-fuel industry is understood to be one of the biggest sources of atmospheric methane, primarily due to leaks from the production of oil and gas. However, a new paper published in the Journal of Cleaner Production suggests that coal mining may actually be a bigger contributor to levels of the greenhouse gas, with emissions set to grow considerably in the coming years. This is even more pronounced when accounting for the impact of old coal mines that continue to seep methane long after they have been abandoned. To date, attempts to curb methane emissions from mines have been limited. While there is considerable uncertainty around the contribution from fossil fuels, which makes up around a fifth of the total, previous work has suggested oil-and-gas production is the biggest contributor. Meanwhile, coal, which releases 75% more CO2 than gas per unit of energy, has been relatively overlooked when it comes to methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas. But coal can be a source of methane, too. The gas escapes from coal seams and is often siphoned off through ventilation systems to ensure a safe environment for miners. The IEA coal mine emissions estimate also comes to around half the 79Mt it estimated for oil-and-gas operations in 2018. However, the new study estimates that CMM in 2020 will be much higher than this, some 135bn cubic metres (bcm), equating to roughly 92Mt of methane. The authors also note that, for the first time, they...
Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks

Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: February 3, 2020 SNIP: Just beyond the windows of Satsuki Kanno’s apartment overlooking Tokyo Bay, a behemoth from a bygone era will soon rise: a coal-burning power plant, part of a buildup of coal power that is unheard-of for an advanced economy. It is one unintended consequence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost a decade ago, which forced Japan to all but close its nuclear power program. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming. “Why coal, why now?” said Ms. Kanno, a homemaker in Yokosuka, the site for two of the coal-burning units that will be built just several hundred feet from her home. “It’s the worst possible thing they could build.” Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. The construction stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever. Under the Paris accord, Japan committed to rein in its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 compared to 2013 levels, a target that has been criticized for being “highly insufficient” by climate...
Russia finds market for its vast reserves of Arctic coal

Russia finds market for its vast reserves of Arctic coal

SOURCE: The Barents Observer DATE: November 1, 2019 SNIP: It was not alternative and green power that was discussed when Indian Minister of oil, natural gas and steel Dharmendra Debendra Pradhan visited Russia last month. The minister was on a four-day tour in the Russian Far East and he had with him a powerful delegation of leaders from the country’s biggest industrial companies. It was coal that was on top of Mr Pradhan’s agenda as he sat down with Russian government officials and business representatives. “Our negotiations must end with a successful project decision on the development of metallurgic coal, that is to be exported from Russia,” the minster said in a meeting with the Russian Ministry of the Far East and Arctic. According to Pradhan, India needs about 70 million tons of high-quality coal for its aluminum and steel industry. Pradhan and the Indian business leaders are looking towards the Russian Arctic, where they will find all the carbon-rich rocks they ever might need. Several new major mining projects are under development in the remote northern region. Among them is the projects of company Vostok Coal in the Taymyr Peninsula. Vostok Coal plans to extract an annual 30 million tons of anthracite, a high-quality coal, from its fields in Taymyr. Since 2016, the company has prepared the ground for a huge industrial project that includes several open pits and the building of seaports, roads and other infrastructure. Coal India Limited is the largest coal-producing company in the world. It produces more than 500 million tons of raw coal per year and accounts for for more than 80 percent...