Two new reports examining coal's role in the global energy mix suggest that declining demand poses serious social risk for communities that rely heavily on coal mining and that more nations are turning to carbon capture technology to keep coal-fired plants in operation.
The World Bank called on governments to develop plans to help miners and mining communities transition away from coal through job training programs and relocation support. The agency forecast that Asia will be most significantly affected by future coal mine closures, since global coal production in the West has fallen considerably by comparison.
Meanwhile, the Global CCS Institute said governments around the world have started to "include CCS in their armory" to combat climate change and 2018 "may well go down as the year when the stars started to again align" for carbon capture. Eighteen large-scale facilities are capturing nearly 40 million tons of carbon per year and have injected more than 230 million tons for underground storage, the Dec. 11 report said, with 25 more under construction or being developed.
South Africa: Universal Coal PLC's JORC-compliant mineral ore reserve at its 49% owned North Block Complex coal operation in South Africa's Mpumalanga province swelled 98.4% over the previous estimate. The project now hosts reserves of 55.5 million tonnes, including 49 million tonnes in the proved category and 6.5 million tonnes in the probable category.
China: An underground transport accident at the Fengchun coal mine in China's southwestern city of Chongqing killed seven workers and injured three, Reuters reported Dec. 16, citing China's state-owned Xinhua news agency. Mine owner Chongqing Energy Investment Group Co. Ltd. halted all operations at its coal mines following the Dec. 15 accident.
Coal railway workers at Aurizon Holdings Ltd. have postponed parts of a planned strike in Queensland amid warnings of Cyclone Owen possibly hitting the Australian state in the north, Reuters wrote Dec. 14, citing a union official. The Queensland president of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Bruce Mackie, said that planned stoppages went ahead but some other strikes were deferred by seven days due to safety concerns of its members.
The 10.5 million tonne per year Mount Pleasant thermal coal project in Australia remains on schedule to see first coal this month, a spokeswoman for owner MACH Energy Australia Pty Ltd said Dec. 11. The project, which was bought from Rio Tinto in August 2016 for $220.7 million plus royalties, is based in Australia's thermal coal dominant region of the Hunter Valley and is planned to export via the Port of Newcastle.
France: France's five coal-fired power plants remained offline Dec. 17 as workers protested against state plans to close them by 2022.
Russia: Steelmaker Evraz PLC, coal miner Kuzbassrazrezugol - Vzryvprom OOO and the investment arm of CJSC Sinara Group are discussing the potential financing of a Russian railway's planned high-speed rail link between Moscow and Kazan, Russian RBC Daily reported Dec. 13, citing two anonymous sources. The connection between Moscow and Kazan to the east, expected to cover nearly 800 kilometers and originally set to begin in 2018, is the first segment of a proposed high-speed link between Moscow and Beijing.
Canada: Canada finalized a plan on Dec. 12 to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity, transition to cleaner energy and cut carbon pollution in a little more than a decade. The nation's goal is to produce 90% of its electricity from non-emitting sources by 2030. The new regulations are intended to encourage operators of some coal plants to convert their facilities to natural gas.
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