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Global coal roundup: A weekly review of top international stories

A roundup of international coal news from May 22 to May 29.

All but one of the Group of Seven leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate pact, with U.S. President Donald Trump as the sole exception. The leaders of the major industrial powers also vowed to fight economic protectionism in order to protect open and fair markets. In a final communique released May 27, the U.S. was acknowledged as undergoing a "process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics."

Congressional allies and enemies of the Paris Agreement on climate change tried to sway President Donald Trump's decision on whether to withdraw from the agreement ahead of a gathering of world leaders at the G7 Summit in Italy. On May 25, a group of over 20 Republican U.S. Senators sent a letter to Trump asking him to make a "clean break" from the Paris Agreement, arguing that staying in the deal would make striking down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan more difficult legally.

Asia

China: Lucas Pipes said metallurgical coal production in China increased to 37.5 million tonnes in April, compared from the 34.5 million tonnes produced the same month last year and 37.4 million tonnes produced in March. He said this increase gives "fodder to both bulls and bears." Those bullish on metallurgical coal would argue that the increase in Chinese production is not happening very quickly despite the lifting of the 276-workday rule, particularly since last month's production was still 2 million tonnes lower than that of April 2015. Meanwhile, those bearish on the commodity might note that production in February through April increased by 2.8% compared to those three months last year.

Forecasts of a warmer-than-usual June in China have halted a decline in coal prices and pushed up demand for air conditioning, Reuters reported May 26. According to the country's Meteorological Administration, Beijing is set to hit 96 degrees F on May 28, the report said. The heat wave has pushed some traders to start revising their views on coal prices, which were initially projected to retreat to the 420 yuan to 450 yuan per ton range.

For a second straight month, China's imports of North Korean coal fell to zero in April, compared to 1.53 million tonnes worth $72.3 million during the same period last year, Reuters reported May 23. The latest data reflects China's commitment to implementing sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council against Pyongyang's missile tests. On May 21, North Korea fired a ballistic missile into waters off its east coast, the second test in a week in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

India: Adani Enterprises Ltd. on May 24 posted a profit of 2.21 billion Indian rupees for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2017, rising from 1.38 billion rupees posted a year ago thanks to higher contributions from its coal trading and mining business and the start of generation in its renewables segment. Its coal trading volumes in the 12 months that ended March 31 grew 4% over the prior year to 80.84 million tonnes. Its coal mines supplied 7.33 million tonnes in fiscal 2017, an increase of 33% from a year ago.

Vietnam: Three coal-fired power plants worth a combined $7.5 billion are set to receive licenses ahead of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to Japan in June, Reuters reported May 24, citing investment minister Nguyen Chi Dung. South Korea's Taekwang Power Holdings Co. and Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power International would invest $2.07 billion for a 1,200-MW thermal power plant, Japan's Marubeni Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp. would put $2.79 billion into a 1,200-MW plant, while Japan's Sumitomo Corp. would invest about $2.64 billion into a 1,320-MW plant.

Australia

Australian Pacific Coal Ltd. completed the acquisition of the Dartbrook coal mine in New South Wales, Australia, from Anglo American Plc and Marubeni Coal Pty. Ltd. The company will also receive a secured vendor loan of A$7.7 million from Anglo American, according to a May 29 release. Australian Pacific acquired an 83.33% interest in Dartbrook from Anglo American and the remaining 16.67% stake from Marubeni Coal.

New Hope Corp. Ltd.'s total raw coal production for the three months to April 30 slipped 1.4% year over year to about 3.5 million tonnes due to the impact of tropical cyclone Debbie on the Queensland operations in Australia. According to the May 29 results, the company's 100%-owned Queensland mines produced 8.1% less raw coal at 2.6 million tonnes during the third quarter of the ASX-listed producer's 2017 financial year. However, production from the 40%-owned Bengalla mine in New South Wales climbed 23.2% to 932,000 tonnes compared to the same period of 2016.

Australian Resources Minister Matthew Canavan said Adani Enterprises Ltd. may not proceed with its Carmichael coal project unless it can strike a deal with the Queensland government on project royalties, Bloomberg News reported May 24. "You can't expect Adani to make a multi-billion dollar decision if they don't know what tax they will pay. The ball is now in the Queensland government's court," Canavan was quoted as saying.

Africa

South Africa: Coal of Africa Ltd.'s integrated water use license for the Makhado coal project in South Africa is no longer suspended, the company said May 29. Coal of Africa CEO David Brown said the decision "completes the suite of regulatory authorizations required for the Makhado project."

Anglo American Plc received several bids for its New Largo coal project in South Africa in the range of about 1 billion South African rand, Bloomberg News reported May 22, citing two sources familiar with the situation. The bidders include Seriti Resources Holdings Ltd., Phembani Group and Telkom SA SOC Ltd. executives. Anglo, meanwhile, noted that it continues to progress the potential sale of its stake in the project, although it refused to comment on the bidders. The sale process is expected to take another three to four months.

As of May 26, US$1 was equivalent to 1.34 Australian dollars.

This feature was updated as of 12:10 p.m. ET on May 22. Some external links may require a subscription.