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Global coal roundup: A weekly review of top international stories

A roundup of internationalcoal news from April 1 to April 8.

Russia

Russiancoal and steel group Mechel OAOsaid April 4 that it agreed tosell a 49% stake in its flagship Elga coal mine in Russia to state-ownedGazprombank for 34.3 billion Russian rubles, in a deal that provides thetroubled miner and steelmaker with much-needed breathing room from creditors asit prepares to refinance its debt pile. In accordance with the deal, Mechelwill sell to Gazprombank a 49% stake in each of Elgaugol OOO — the projectoperator and owner of the subsoil license — Ulak-Elga railroad ownerElga-Doroga OOO and Mecheltrans-East OOO, which is the railroad's transportoperator, by June 30.

Asia

China: China imposed on imports of coalfrom North Korea on April 5 in response to the U.N.'s call to enforce sanctionsagainst the country for its continued nuclear and missile tests, reported TheAssociated Press. China has halted most imports of North Korean coal, iron,iron ore, gold, titanium and other mineral commodities which are an importantsource of revenue for the country, reported the AP. However, materials forcivilian use would be allowed so long as they are not linked to the North'snuclear or missile programs, the report said, citing China's Ministry ofCommerce.

Indonesia: Adani Enterprises isunder investigationfor an alleged involvement in a US$4.4 billion pricing scandal related to coalimported from Indonesia, The Guardianreported April 7. AdaniEnterprises Ltd. joins a number of power companies targeted in an18-month investigation by the Indian Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, whichissued a "general alert" during the week of March 28 alleging coalcompanies to be exploiting "higher tariff compensation based on [the]artificially inflated cost of the imported coal" from Indonesia, said thereport, citing Economic and PoliticalWeekly.

India: 's record 138million tonnes of dry fuel for the financial year 2015 to 2016 has made it the topcoal producer in India, the Press Trust of India reported. Mahanadi hascontributed 39% to Coal IndiaLtd.'s incremental growth.

India'sNational Green Tribunal has haltedthe transport of extracted coal from the Meghalaya mine after May 15, which iswhen the remaining coal will be bestowed to the government for selling orauction, the Press Trust of India reported. The government was also required tosubmit a report within four weeks on their plans for environmental restoration,especially protection of water bodies that have been adversely affected bylegal, illegal, unscientific or unregulated mining.

Pakistan: A Sheraz Coal Company-ownedcoal mine explodedon April 2 in the Doli area in northwestern Pakistan, killing five and injuringeight, the IndustriALL Global Union reported. The accident followed a March 20explosion in the same area that killed seven miners, resulting in the closingof the Doli mines. The recently exploded mine had been restarted withoutofficial permission, according to the report. The explosion was caused by amethane gas leak.

Australia

About21 Civil Australia Group workers at AngloAmerican Plc's Callidecoal mine in Queensland, Australia, walked off the site March 22 allegedly overunpaid wages for morethan three weeks' work, The Observer(Gladstone) reported April 5. Selwyn Lampard, one of the workers, said thecompany owes him about A$9,000 in wages and six months superannuation, but hisboss would not respond when contacted.

Thegovernment of Queensland in Australia approvedthe grant of three mining leases for Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s coal mine and railproject, according to an April 3 government release. However, the coal minestill requires some approvals before construction can start, includingsecondary approvals for rail, port facilities, power, water, roadworks and theairport, and a financial assurance with the Department of Environment andHeritage Protection.

Thechief economist of the Australia Institute argued that the financial viabilityof the Carmichael coal mine wouldnot be viable, as suggested by objective analysis of the project, ABC Newsreported. "It's hard to understand why, rather than go and buy cheapdistressed coal mines for sale across the world, they want to spend $16 billionon building a new one," Dr. Richard Denniss said in the report. Accordingto the economist, the project would heavily rely on direct or indirect stateand federal subsidies through infrastructure support and other means.

AngloAmerican Plc said April 4 that it is sellingits 70% interest in the Foxleighmetallurgical coal mine in Queensland, Australia, to a consortium led by TaurusFund Management. Foxleigh, an open-cut coal operation that contributed 1.9million tonnes of salable production to Anglo American in 2015, was as early asJanuary 2015.

Amidthe fossil fuel industry slump, the pricetag on halting all new coal and gas projects in Australia hasfallen by 80% compared to estimates 2.5 years ago, The Guardian of Australia reported April 4, citing officialparliamentary costings. Recently when the Greens asked for the forwardestimates, or the four years to July 2019, should the same ban be enforced, thebudget office found that the figure had dropped to only A$290 million.

Africa

South Africa: A majority of creditorsapproved 's 2.15 billionSouth African rand saleof the loss-making Optimumcoal mine in South Africa to Oakbay Investments Group's Tegeta Exploration& Resources Ltd., Bloomberg News reported April 7, citing Piers Marsden,administrator of the businessrescue proceedings. Investec Plc, FirstRand Ltd.'s Rand MerchantBank unit and Nedbank Ltd., which collectively hold about 2.7 billion rand inOptimum debt, voted in favor of the sale through an agent.

said April 8that the integrated water use license for its Makhado coal project in South Africa has beensuspended after anappeal was filed with the Department of Water and Sanitation. The appeal —filed by the Vhembe Mineral Resources Forum and other parties — automaticallysuspends the license, in accordance with South African laws.

As of April 7, US$1 wasequivalent to 15.23 South African rand.

This feature was updated asof 2:24 p.m. ET on April 8. Some external links may require a subscription.