Column: Coal optimism in Australia hides unease about long-term problems

first_imgColumn: Coal optimism in Australia hides unease about long-term problems FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:BRISBANE—Coal miners supplying Asia’s rapidly growing economies have plenty to be optimistic about as prices and demand appear robust, but they should be wary of getting caught up in the positive feedback loop that nearly destroyed them before.This week’s inaugural Energy Mines and Money conference in Brisbane, the heartland of the industry in top coal exporter Australia, was a sea of optimism about the outlook for the industry. Prices have been on an upward trend since bottoming in 2016 after five years of losses, and miners are once again making good profits amid strong demand from top importers China and India, new consumers such as Pakistan and the reliable veteran buyers like Japan and South Korea.But at the back of the minds of many Australian miners is the fear that they have seen this movie before, and they don’t want the same ending. In 2012, the industry was cock-a-hoop over forecasts that pointed to massive import demand growth in Asia, led by China and India. Problem was it was pretty much all wrong.A well-respected industry consultant and forecaster boldly claimed in early 2012 that China would be importing 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2030, and India would be up to 400 million tonnes. But these forecasts now look hopelessly optimistic, given China’s coal imports were 270.9 million tonnes in 2017. While imports have risen for two years, they are still well below the record 327.2 million tonnes from 2013. While China’s coal imports may rise slightly this year, it’s unlikely they will reach 300 million tonnes, and that 1 billion tonne forecast looks well out of reach.The [new] optimistic forecasts also fail to account for political pressure to move away from coal, not only in China, but increasingly in India. It’s likely that those countries planning on building coal plants powered by imports will also come under mounting pressure from environmental activists, who have become increasingly sophisticated in targeting how coal plants are financed and insured.In fact, if there was another common theme to this week’s conference in Brisbane, it’s that the coal sector still doesn’t fully grasp that array of forces now being deployed against it. The mantra of coal as ‘cheap and reliable and the only way to electrify the masses of people still without power’ was still repeated, and clearly believed.But scratch a little further and miners will tell you of the incredible difficulties in developing projects, with increased government scrutiny and regulation, the rising threat of public opposition and the dearth of financing, notwithstanding a seemingly large pool of investment funds. The inability of India’s Adani to actually start building its Carmichael mine in Queensland, the world’s largest planned mine aimed at supplying the seaborne market, plays on the industry’s mind, as does the virulent public opposition to the mine’s development.More: COLUMN-Resurgent coal exporters should be wary of blinkered optimism: Russelllast_img read more

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Joe Biden wins Alaska primary

first_imgJoe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was declared winner of the Alaska primary late Saturday after the state shifted to postal voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.The state’s ballots were sent out before Biden’s rival Bernie Sanders pulled out of the race last week, meaning the Vermont senator also took a proportion of the vote.However Biden emerged as the clear winner with 55.3 percent of the vote and nine of the state’s 15 delegates, Alaska Democrats tweeted from the party’s official account. Sanders took 44.7 percent of the votes and eight delegates, according to the tweet.He has stressed he will remain on the ballot and seek to gain as many delegates as possible in order to “exert significant influence” over the direction of the party.Biden, like most Americans, is under stay-at-home orders due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and has marked becoming the de facto 2020 nominee with press releases and comments broadcast online from his basement.He has urged Sanders supporters to join his campaign, which already has the backing of nearly all other ex-rivals in the race including senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.Topics :last_img read more

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Campaign warns fans over flares

first_imgA new campaign is being launched to warn of the dangers of fans using flares and smoke bombs after it was revealed children as young as eight have been used as ‘mules’ to smuggle pyrotechnic devices into football grounds. “This campaign clearly sets out the dangers of flares and smoke bombs. I want to see the courts taking this problem seriously and dealing in the strongest way possible with fans who still illegally smuggle pyrotechnics into football grounds.” Nine people have been injured or burned by fireworks thrown at grounds in England in the last 18 months. Last month a Manchester United fan who set off a smoke bomb during Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge, against West Brom, was given a suspended two-month jail term and banned from any football grounds for three years. In February, two Chelsea fans were jailed for 28 days and given six-year football banning orders for taking smoke bombs into the Liberty Stadium for a match versus Swansea. Fans will be reminded that fireworks are illegal at matches, carrying the risk of possible jail sentences, and warned of the dangers – last season a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from a smoke bomb thrown at Wigan, while in February a 14-year-old boy was killed by a flare thrown by fans during a South American Libertadores Cup match in Bolivia. The Premier League said in a statement: “A disturbing element of increased pyrotechnics has been the involvement of children. “It is not uncommon for ‘mules’ to bring the pyrotechnics into a ground on behalf of others, and in one incident at a Premier League match last season a child aged around eight was observed aiding those involved in pyrotechnic use. “The child came into the ground with pyrotechnics in his rucksack and was then seen passing them to members of an adult group who let them off inside the ground.” New research has found that one third of fans have been affected by pyrotechnics, 87 per cent believe they are dangerous and 78 per cent say they want more action taken against users. Fireworks have always been viewed as a European phenomenon but they have become a growing problem in English football with eight incidents in the 2010/11 season, 72 in 2011/12 and so far this season 96 incidents. Policing minister Damian Green said: “Football fans might see images of football grounds in other parts of Europe full of smoke and light caused by pyrotechnic devices and think that they create a good atmosphere – but they do not. “Flares are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries. We are very lucky that no one has been seriously injured or killed by a flare here for a long time. The campaign by the Premier League, Football League and the FA comes after a growth in the number of incidents – including a linesman being struck by a firework at Aston Villa in October. Concerns have intensified after CCTV at one Premier League ground caught a young boy handing out fireworks to adults from his rucksack. Press Associationlast_img read more

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