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Global coal roundup: Greens say global coal fleet could start shrinking by 2022

A roundup of international coal news from March 19 to March 26.

Major indicators of coal power capacity growth fell by double digits in 2017 for the second year in a row, according to a new report by environmental advocates, and if those trends continue, yearly retirements will exceed new capacity by 2022. Newly completed coal-fired plants declined 28% year over year in 2017, while construction starts fell 29%, preconstruction activity declined 22% and construction activity decreased by 23%. The joint report produced by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm also found that global retirements during the year exceeded 25,000 MW. Total global operating capacity as of January was 2,000 GW.

Australia

Lenders to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in Queensland, Australia, agreed to extend about US$3 billion due on an outstanding loan for eight years, giving the debt-laden terminal operator a lifeline, Reuters reported March 22, citing two unnamed sources. The extension had been agreed but not yet signed by the parties. Once signed, the proposed deal would see all free cash flow from the terminal used to pay down the loan.

Glencore PLC said March 20 that it agreed to acquire Rio Tinto's 82% stake in the Hail Creek coal mine and a 71.2% stake in the Valeria coal project, both in Queensland, Australia, for US$1.7 billion in cash. The acquisition, subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed in the second half. In a separate, same-day statement, Rio Tinto said it is undertaking a separate process to sell its remaining Australian coal assets, including the Kestrel mine in Queensland.

Asia

China: The country's raw coal production edged up 3.3% year over year to 3.52 billion tonnes in 2017 due to increasing demand and high-quality capacity, Xinhua News Agency reported March 19, citing the National Bureau of Statistics. The increase was the first since 2014, after output hit a six-year low in 2016, the report said.

This feature was updated as of 1:26 p.m. ET on March 26. Some external links may require a subscription.