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Global coal roundup: World Coal Association selects Peabody CEO as new chairman

A roundup of international coal news from May 14 to May 21.

The World Coal Association appointed Peabody Energy Corp. President and CEO Glenn Kellow as its new chairman, replacing Glencore PLC executive Mick Buffier. "I'd like to thank Mick Buffier for his years of service and I look forward to working with the global industry as we approach the challenges and opportunities ahead," Kellow said in a May 17 news release.

Canada: Atrum Coal Ltd. said May 15 that it will conduct an approximately 7,000-meter drilling program at its Elan South coking coal project in Alberta in June, as well as an upcoming drilling program at the Panorama North coal project in British Columbia in August.

Europe

Netherlands: The next decade will see the Netherlands banning coal for power generation in a move to shut all of its coal-fired power plants by 2030, Reuters reported May 18. Economy minister Eric Wiebes announced Friday that coal plants built in the 1990s will be closed down by the end of 2024 and newer plants by 2029, unless they switch to other energy sources.

Asia

China: China's coal production in April totaled 293 million tonnes, rising 4.1% year over year driven by increased domestic supply amid tighter import curbs, Reuters reported May 14 citing data from the National Statistics Bureau. The output also rose from a five-month low of 290 million tonnes in March. Year-to-date, production was reported at 1.1 billion tonnes, up 3.8% year over year as the country's top three coal-producing regions Shanxi, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia boosted their supplies, the newswire said citing the statistics bureau.

India: India's thermal coal imports rose to 39.6 million tonnes during the three months ended March 31, up about 15% from the year-ago figure, Reuters reported May 11, citing data from Dubai-based American Fuels, a supplier of coal from the United States. The increase pushed benchmark Australian coal cargo prices above $100 per tonne.

Indonesia: With China slashing coal imports in a bid to lower air pollution and to boost the domestic industry, miners in Indonesia are carving out different strategies to adapt to the changing dynamics of the marketplace. "If China capped the imports [of low grade coal] from Indonesia, trading houses would have no choice but to defer the procurement from domestic coal mines," Chen Guangzhi, a Singapore-based investment analyst with Phillip Securities Research, told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Japan: Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Ltd. will not provide financing for overseas projects dependent on coal, Bloomberg News reported May 10. "With the Japanese government's plans for dozens of new coal projects domestically, and many more planned by Japanese companies in climate-vulnerable countries, it's an important milestone to have a Japanese company come forward to say that it will not invest in any of these new projects," Han Chen of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, told the news service.

Australia

The Queensland Treasury included BHP Billiton Group's partner in Australia, Mitsubishi Corp., in a royalty assessment for 2005 to 2015, which could result in tax claims around the miner's offshore trading hub growing beyond A$1.4 billion, The Australian reported May 19. Mitsubishi's involvement could add over A$300 million in extra royalties in addition to the A$1.1 billion of Australian Taxation Office claims related to BHP's Singapore marketing business.

BHP Billiton is looking at incremental and large-scale growth options in a bid to add up to US$31 billion of value, CEO Andrew Mackenzie said in a May 15 presentation. The diversified miner outlined about $4 billion of low-cost latent capacity options across its operations, including de­bottlenecking, expansion and reprocessing material, which can result in an additional $16 billion of unrisked net present value.

Concurrently, the companysold a more than A$100 million exposure in Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group Pty. Ltd. to an unidentified buyer, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing unnamed sources. It decided to off-load the stake after deeming it noncore. Newcastle Coal has a long-term lease agreement on the Port of Newcastle, the world's largest coal exporter.

This feature was updated as of 1:48 p.m. ET on May 21. Some external links may require a subscription.