By Amitabh Dubey of Trusted Sources
Elections this week in the states of Maharashtra and Haryana offered the first popular gauge of India’s reformist government since it won its big parliamentary majority in May, and underscored its dominance of Indian politics. But an equally important test has emerged in one of the country’s most troubled sectors, coal, after the Supreme Court’s mass cancellation of captive coal block allocations last month. How Prime Minister Narendra Modi handles the issue will be the first major test of his capacity for reform affecting a vital industry which finds itself in a dire situation. Read more
As Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, grapples with slowing growth, weak output and rising inflation, he will pay particular attention to one company whose performance has a bearing on all those issues: Coal India, the public sector behemoth that mines 80 per cent of the country’s coal.
That in itself presents a big challenge. For Coal India is not performing well. It has missed production targets in five of the last eight months and output has grown at less than 2 per cent annually over the past four years. Read more
New World Resources ended trading Friday down by 3.4 per cent, capping off a terrible week that saw the Czech coal miner’s shares plummet by 22 per cent the day before.
Hit by lower coal prices, a failure to extend its revolving €100m credit facility and a reassessment of its coal reserves, NWR announced late Wednesday that it was taking a closer look at its capital structure. Read more
Cut the coal, please
Krakow was known for its choking smog in Communist times, when Poland’s medieval capital was bathed in the corrosive stench being pumped out by the nearby Lenin Steelworks.
Fast forward a quarter of a century, and Krakow’s air is still polluted – although the culprit is no longer the steel mill (now owned by Arcelor Mittal) but instead the thousands of people who still heat their homes with coal. The result has been some of the worst air in a still-smoggy country where coal generates about 90 per cent of Poland’s electricity. However, the local government in Krakow is now moving to ban home heating with coal over the next five years. Read more
By Artur Gradziuk of the Polish Institute of International Affairs
Poland has a real image problem when it comes to climate change. Being on the defensive over more ambitious EU climate targets makes it hard for Warsaw to shift attention to aspects of its climate policy that it can be proud of.
One of these is decoupling. While Poland’s economic output doubled over the last 25 years, its greenhouse gas emissions did not increase. In fact,they shrank by more than 30 per cent. In theory, this kind of achievement should serve as an inspiration to other fast-developing countries. Read more
Politics and business have long been tightly entwined in the Czech Republic, but political attention is becoming a growing problem for Czech coal tycoon Zdenek Bakala, who is playing an important, if uncomfortable, role in that country’s ongoing parliamentary election campaign.
His problem started when New World Resources. the Dutch-registered coal miner that is controlled by BXR Group, his investment vehicle, announced that it was going to have to close its Paskov coking coal mine by next year. Read more
Arguably the announcement last week by Abu Dhabi state energy company Taqa that it would postpone a final decision on investing in developing new coal fired power plant in Turkey to next year, was less surprising than the response to the announcement from Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz.
Commenting on the decision Yildiz expressed his hope that the decision had not been made for political reasons, pointing to the ongoing instability in Egypt and Syria. Read more
The South African winter is sending chills down the spine of its power utility Eskom, which seems bereft of an immediate solution to maintaining sufficient supplies of power to both businesses and consumers as consumption shoots up.
Eskom relies on coal fired power stations to produce approximately 90 per cent of its electricity. But with the threat of rolling blackouts, could gas be the answer? Read more
Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, said on Thursday his government would go ahead after all with a plan to create the country’s second biggest power station despite the fact that it was scrapped in April by the state-controlled utility responsible, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), due to sagging energy prices and weak demand.
“We confirm the readiness of the government to build the power plant in Opole… The government will find the funds and a way for this investment to be carried out,” Tusk said at an IPO conference in Warsaw. Read more
By Nicholas Watson of bne
When the new chairman of Czech coal miner New World Resources warned back in February that the first part of 2013 was going to be challenging, few probably envisaged it would be quite as bad as this. But on May 16, NWR revealed that it made another record loss in the first quarter and said it would take a series of measures worth €100m to bolster its finances. Read more
Botswana may be the world’s top diamond producer, but it is keen to diversify its exports away from precious stones. The country has been steadily mapping out a plan to develop what it says are its huge coal resources.
The benefit would be clear: in addition to boosting domestic energy supplies, a coal industry would be able to export to countries such as China and India in the future. The question is, just what is the size of its reserves? Read more
Anglo American may have passed on this one, but Nippon are up for it. Japan’s largest steel company, Nippon Steel and Suminato Metal Corp, was given the go-ahead on Thursday to develop the Revuboè coal project in Mozambique’s Tete province. It now hopes to begin production by 2016, nestled in among other major extractors in one of the world’s most important new mining regions.
The announcement comes little over a week after the London-listed mining giant, Anglo American, said it had dropped plans to acquire a $555m majority stake in the Revuboè venture, which is situated adjacent to Vale’s Moatize mine and Rio Tinto’s Zambezi and Benga mines. Read more
India’s power companies will breathe a sigh of relief.
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), the regulator, has decided to give Adani Power a “compensatory tariff”, acknowledging the fact that the rising cost of coal is making it financially unviable for the company to provide power at pre-agreed prices. Good news for power companies – but someone has to pay. Read more
By Nicholas Watson of bne
The creation of New World Resources by tycoon Zdenek Bakala out of the remnants of the Czech coal industry and its subsequent IPO was aimed at producing a miner capable of consolidating Central Europe’s fragmented coal industry.
Not for want of trying, NWR’s efforts have so far been in vain, and its new chairman now says the miner intends to spread its net wider, including as far afield as the US. Read more
This week, India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval “in principle” for coal price pooling. State governments have spoken out, stocks have rallied and companies have had their say.
So, what’s all the fuss about? Read more
How much money can you lose up the Zambezi? Quite a lot if you are Rio Tinto.
The miner’s shares fell nearly 3 per cent early on Thursday after it announced a $14bn writedown and the departure of chief executive Tom Albanese and of Doug Ritchie, the man in charge of the group’s ill-fated Mozambique coal venture.
A spectacular example of the risks in mining – and the dangers of operating in emerging markets as the company disclosed that it never received formal approval for a key element of the Mozambique project – transporting coal on the Zambezi. Read more
A reminder that strikes in South Africa keep ticking along: miner Coal of Africa has been hit by a walkout over the suspension of four workers, with work stopping at its Mooiplaats mine.
Unsurprisingly, the shares have been hit hard: down at one stage nearly 9 per cent in Johannesburg and 9.8 per cent in London. Prices have recovered a little, to around 7 per cent down on both exchanges. (The primary listing is in Australia.) Read more
The World Energy Outlook 2012 was published by the IEA on Monday, and rightly, the forecast that the US will become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017 has grabbed headlines.
But tucked inside the 668 pages there are some interesting insights for emerging markets too. Beyondbrics brings you a few highlights. Read more
Mongolia’s tough new foreign investment law has claimed its first big victim. As had been widely expected, it was confirmed on Monday that Chalco, the Chinese state-controlled aluminium company, had dropped a $926m bid for a control of SouthGobi Resources, a Hong Kong-listed coal company with a big Mongolian mine.
The company cannot go ahead in the face of tough political opposition in Mongolia which in May passed a law limiting foreign ownership in mining and other strategic sectors following Chalco’s original bid. Read more
Central Europe’s economies are slowing, but the region is still doing better than much of the rest of the continent, the reason that regional coal miner New World Resources says it was able to beat expectations for the second quarter of the year.
The company reported sales of €347.5m for the quarter, down 24 per cent over the same period a year earlier and in line with expectations, while net income came to €28.3m, down by 66 per cent but better than the average estimate of €18.3m in a Reuters poll, in large part due to successful cost cutting. Read more