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Global coal roundup: A weekly review of top international stories

A roundup of internationalcoal news from July 1-8.

Europe

Dustfrom coal-fired power plants in the European Union causes 23,000 deaths peryear and costs as much as $70 billion in health costs, AFP reported, citing ajoint report from the Health and Environment Alliance, the WWF, Climate ActionNetwork Europe and Sandbag. The EU's 280 coal plants have been releasing finedust that has caused about 12,000 new cases of chronic bronchitis and over500,000 asthma attacks in children in 2013.

Germany: Sweden has approvedthe sale ofVattenfall AB's fourcoal mines and mining assets in Germany to Czech energy company EPH, TheAssociated Press reported. According to Environment Party Climate MinisterIsabella Lovin, the government "thoroughly investigated" the sale butdid not find any reason to withhold approval. "The value of selling ishigher than to keep and continue operating the business," said Enterpriseand Innovation Minister Mikael Damberg.

United Kingdom: British development firmBanks Group has securedpermission for its planned surface coal mine in Britain in 2018,which is expected to produce 3 million tonnes of coal in a maximum of sevenyears, Reuters reported July 8. The coal mine will be installed at Highthorn inNorthumberland, in northeast England, and will create roughly 50 jobs, said thereport. The company said it would invest around $156 million for the project.

Asia

China: Provincial governments inChina are compelledto submit phase-outplans for inefficient coal mines and steel mills by the end of the month andset capacity reduction targets by July 15, Bloomberg News reported July 8,citing Xinhua News Agency. In a report by Xinhua, Chairman of NationalDevelopment and Reform Commission, Xu Shaoshi, noted that provinces that failto achieve their reduction targets will be "seriously punished."

Inits thrust to mitigate gluts in steel and coal, the sectors' 25 government-runfirms in China are planning to cutcapacity by about 10% in two years, and by 15% by 2020, Reuters reported,citing a statement from the country's State-Owned Assets Supervision andAdministration Commission. The firms include Shenhua Group Corp. Ltd., China's biggest coal producer.China aims to cut 500 million tonnes of coal production capacity in the nextthree to five years.

Acoal mine in Shanxi, northern China, floodedand trapped 12 miners, despite continuing safety improvements in the country'smines, The Associated Press reported. At the time of the flooding, 94 minerswere working underground and 82 were rescued, the State Administration of WorkSafety said in a statement.

Fireravagedan illegal coal mine in northeast China on July 8, claiming 11 lives, AFPreported, citing Xinhua News Agency. The fire trapped 13 miners about 500meters underground. One miner was rescued and one was reported missing. Themine was closed in 2004, but was able to continue operations by hiding theshaft within a coal washing plant. The mine also only had one opening, whilenormal mine shafts usually have two. Despite an improving safety record in acountry known for having the deadliest mines in the world, rights groups aresaying the actual figures are being under-reported.

India: plans to counter itsswelling coalstockpiles and production through exports of the fossil fuel, including shipments to Nepaland Bangladesh, Bloomberg News reported July 5. The giant coal producer'soutput in the year ended March 31 rose to 8.5% to 536 million tonnes whileproduction in June was up 10% year over year, said the report.

ThoughCoal India Ltd. fellshort of its 43.31 million tonne coal production target in June,with output standing at 42.72 million tonnes, the decrease has helped ease theglut that has been plaguing its mines, Reuters reported July 1. Coal deliveriesin June were also down against the coal giant's target, which clocked in at44.96 million tonnes from 47.52 million tonnes, said the report.

South Korea: South Korea 10 agingcoal-fired power plants by 2025 as part of its pledge during the Paris climatesummit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% by 2030, Reuters reported July5. The closure of the coal plants could also help ease fine dust levels by 24%in 2030 from 2015 levels, said the report, citing the energy ministry.

Philippines: The Philippines willmaintain its dependence oncoal as it aims to double its power generation capacity by 2030,Reuters reported, citing a statement made by the country's energy minister onJuly 4. The former administration approved coal-fired power plant projects thatcould increase the fossil fuel's share in the country's energy mix to abouthalf from 30%. The new administration has made it known that it has no plans toturn away from the use of the fuel. "Coal is the more dependable, the morereliable source for baseload," said newly appointed Energy SecretaryAlfonso Cusi. "As a developing country, we cannot afford not to have coal."

Australia

kicked off drillingat its LeighCreek coal site in South Australia, it said July 5. The drillingprogram will initially comprise three drill holes to collect baselineenvironmental samples of rock and water, and coal and overburden samples foradditional detailed gasification analysis.

's wholly ownedsubsidiary, Orion Mining PtyLtd., will acquire the Blair Athol coal mine in Queensland, Australia, andreceive A$80 million from the Blair Athol coal joint venture as part of thedeal, according to a July 4 statement. TerraCom, which will only pay A$1 as theacquisition price, will receive the A$80 million to meet the vendor'srehabilitation liability as determined by Queensland's Department ofEnvironment Heritage Protection in November 2015.

Africa

Tanzania: completed the miningdefinitive feasibilitystudy of the Mbeya coal-to-power project in Tanzania, reconfirmingthe coal mine as a "robust project with strong financial and commercialindicators." The study estimates an internal return rate of 69.2%, a 15%improvement from the 53.9% in the mining pre-feasibility study, the companysaid July 8.

South Africa: The South African powerutility Eskom isplanning to look for alternative sources of coal to fuel its Tutuka powerstation as coal from AngloAmerican Plc's New Denmark colliery has gotten tooexpensive, The Guardian Nigeria reported,citing a statement from Eskom's Group Executive for Generation Matshela Koko.The power station has been paying $109 per tonne. "It's unacceptable andwe will change and we will go to unconventional suppliers," Koko said.

As of July 7, US$1 isequivalent to 67.45 Indian rupees.

This feature was updated asof 2:20 p.m. ET on July 8. Some external links may require a subscription.