MAC/20: Mines and Communities

It's coal out there!

Published by MAC on 2006-05-18


It's coal out there!

18th May 2006

Was it only two years back that the Extractive Industries Review (EIR) called on the World Bank to cease all financing of coal projects? A lot of carbon has moved since then; even more CO2 has blasted into the atmosphere, and dirty coal-laden waters have gone down many rivers.

Indonesia is now the world's largest exporter of thermal coal (used for power stations) following a deal in March whereby Bumi Resources sold its stake in Kaltim Prima (formerly owned by Rio Tinto and BP) and Arutmin to a new consortium. Xstrata is the globe's biggest exporter of the black stuff, while Rio Tinto has risen to become one of the (if not the) major producers. And this is the company claiming to be at the forefront of "product stewardship" and to be reducing its carbon "footprint".

With international pressure building against UK-based Asia Energy's plans to open the huge Phulbari coal deposit in NW Bangladesh, USAID has proposed studying how to bring electricity to the country from India. But the most obvious fuel source in central-eastern India is coal - whose further exploitation would put even greater pressure on Indigenous communities.

Here's a foonote for those of our readers who like tracking the inner workings of the coal industry; last Thursday AIM-listed Cambrian Coal, the former owner of Asia Energy, announced a three-year US$20 million bond issue, to "unlock further value" in the company.

It's not just the majors that are moving in on the market - the piglets too have their snouts in the trough.

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