Sunday, September 05, 2021

Resurgent coal market hits new high as Chinese, Indian economies gather steam

Soaring demand for electricity in China and India has put a rocket under the coal market with prices for the fossil fuel hitting a record high despite efforts to de-carbonise the global economy.

The resurgence comes despite China's informal ban on Australian imports and de-carbonisation efforts

Australian miners have been fetching up to $US180 a tonne for their benchmark thermal coal deliveries this week, setting a new high of more than $240/t in Australian dollar terms.

The record comes barely six months since prices plumbed lows of just $US50/t as miners dealt with the twin blows of a COVID-induced economic downturn and China's unofficial decision to ban Australian imports.

Viktor Tanevski, the principle coal research analyst at consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said there had been a surge in power use — which was closely tied to coal consumption — as major Asian economies reopened.

Mr Tanevski said the market had been further propelled by problems among major coal producers such as Indonesia, starving supply and driving prices higher.

"Consequently, we've had fireworks in the thermal coal pricing indices," Mr Tanevski said.

The resurgent coal market stands in stark contrast to last year when Beijing added coal to its list of Australian products hit with trade strikes.

While the decision was a blow to producers initially, Mr Tanevski said they had since been able to find other markets as global trade "rebalanced".

Chief among them was India, which Mr Tanevski said was on track to take up to 20 million tonnes of Australian coal in 2021.

Established markets such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were also buying significant amounts of coal from Australia.

And in a sign of the times, Mr Tanevski said there had been several shipments of Australian coal to Indonesia, despite the fact it was one of the world's biggest suppliers in its own right.


Barnaby Joyce snaps at reporter over climate change question

Barnaby Joyce has snapped at a reporter after being asked if he accepted Australia is at a greater risk of extreme weather events due to global warming.

A landmark UN climate change report last month warned temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5 degrees, bringing widespread extreme weather.

The deputy prime minister was addressing the National Press Club for the first time since his return to the Nationals’ leadership when he was asked if he accepted the science of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

But Mr Joyce, who was elevated back to the Nationals’ leadership partially due to his stance on climate change, seemingly likened the question to being forced to denounce satan at a baptism.

“I really don‘t like when questions are presented like that, because it sounds like you’re out of baptism, on behalf of your child, denouncing Satan,” the deputy prime minister said.

A back and forth between the reporter and Mr Joyce ensued, and ended when the deputy prime minister snapped and accused the journalist of being “part of the problem”.

“Your emissions went up. You are part of the problem, regional Australia was part of the solutions,” he said.

“With respect, Mr Joyce, you‘re the Government. This is an IPCC statement in the latest science. So I want to know whether the starting point is that factual summation of the science?” the reporter continued.

“I've told you I’m not going to stand here and sort of be berated into complying with the thing that sounds awfully like the statements that one gives in regards to a child of a baptism,” Mr Joyce sniped back.

“Do I agree humans have had an influence in the climate? Yes, but I’m not going to participate in some sort of kangaroo court of, ‘Now you will agree to every statement I say, because the IPCC said it.’”

At the time of its release, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres declared the climate report card was a “code red for humanity” and urged nations to take greater action.

Mr Joyce last month sensationally claimed it was not the job of the government to come up with the blueprint to reach net-zero emissions.

The deputy prime minister’s comments were part of a wide ranging address to the National Press Club, where he announced the North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority would shift north from Canberra to Bowen.

“The North Queensland Water Authority, currently based here in Canberra, is moving to North Queensland. Adjacent to where we are building a dam. And the same region where we are building Hells Gate dam, where we will start on a long-term nation-building task of expanding irrigated agriculture by moving a proportion of the abundant resource of water west,” he said.


Another one of our charming Muslim immigrants

A 'violent extremist' who was 'inspired by ISIS' and on a terror watchlist has been shot dead by police in an Auckland supermarket after stabbing at least six people in an 'out of control' rampage.

Six people have been left fighting for life in hospitals across New Zealand's north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn, in the city's south.

Three of the victims were described as 'critical' with neck and chest wounds.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed the 32-year-old Sri Lankan national, known only as 'S' for legal reasons, was considered one of the nation's most dangerous extremists and was watched 24/7 since 2016. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011.

'What happened today was despicable, hateful and wrong,' she said. 'It was carried out by an individual, not a faith or religion. He was gripped by violent and ISIS inspired ideology that is not supported here.'

A surveillance team and special tactics group monitored the man at all times and plain clothes officers were able to respond in 60 seconds when he launched his attack on Friday afternoon.

It is understood the man obtained a knife from within the store, and detectives were so close they 'heard' the commotion.

Due to suppression orders that are already in place, the prime minister says there is information about the man's identity and details of his past criminal history that cannot yet be revealed.

She vowed to share any further details 'within the confines of the law' if the court lifted suppression orders in the wake of his death.

'He was known to our national security agencies, was of concern and was being monitored constantly. There are very few people that fall into this category,' Ms Ardern said.

She reiterated that if the offender had commit a crime in the past that would have allowed authorities to put him in prison, 'that's where he would have been'.

'The reason he was in the community is because within the law we could not put him anywhere else. His past behaviour was, within the threshold of the law, not enough to put him in prison.'

The 32-year-old offender reportedly landed himself on terror watchlists after twice buying hunting knives and being found to possess Islamic State propaganda videos, NZHerald reported.

Just last month, he was sentenced to a one year supervision order for possessing propaganda videos created by the Islamic State that promoted terrorism.

He had reportedly performed internet searches asking about the guidelines of 'lone-wolf mujahideen', knife attacks and prison conditions in New Zealand.

After receiving a formal warning from police, 'S' reportedly made a social media post which read: 'One day I will go back to my country and I will find Kiwi scums in my country... and I will show them... what will happen when you mess with S while I'm in their country. If you're tough in your country... we are tougher in our country scums.'

'S' had reportedly told worshipers in his mosque that he intended to join ISIS and was arrested at Auckland Airport in May 2017 after booking a one-way ticket to Singapore.

The outlet revealed he had only recently been released from prison after a High Court judge ruled preparing a terrorist attack was not equitable to performing a terrorist act and sentenced him on a lesser charge.

The day after he walked free from prison, 'S' purchased yet another hunting knife. He was arrested again, but was not prosecuted under the strict terrorism laws.


Sussan Ley approves first coal project since court rules she owes children duty of care

But there's no such thing as a happy Greenie

The federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, has granted her first approval to a coalmining project since the federal court found she has a duty of care to protect young people from the climate crisis.

In a decision published late on Friday, Ley approved Wollongong Coal’s application to expand existing underground coalmining at its Russell Vale colliery north of Wollongong.

The project will extract approximately 3.7m tonnes of extra coal over a five-year period.

The decision was criticised by the anti-mining group Lock the Gate, which said the project threatened Sydney’s drinking water catchment and put the health of children, who will face the worst of the climate crisis, at risk.

“This is a terrible decision for Australian children, for the environment and for more than 5 million people who rely on drinking water in the greater Sydney catchment area,” the group’s spokesperson Nic Clyde said. “Sussan Ley has knowingly subjected Australian children to catastrophic climate risks.”

In May, the federal court ruled the environment minister had a common law duty of care to protect younger people against future harm from climate change.

The ruling was made after eight teenagers, led by Melbourne student Anj Sharma and supported by Sister Brigid Arthur, an 86-year-old nun and former teacher, sought an injunction to prevent Ley from approving a proposal by Whitehaven Coal to expand the Vickery coalmine in northern New South Wales.

The case has become known as the Sharma case and Ley has lodged an appeal.

The court did not grant the injunction, but its finding that the minister had a duty of care to not act in a way that would cause future harm to young people was praised as an “amazing decision” with potentially significant consequences.

In a statement of reasons for her decision to approve Wollongong Coal’s project, the minister said the environment department had sought further information from the company about what actions it would take to reduce emissions at the mine and at the steel-making plant in India where the coal would be used.

The statement said Ley considered the federal court’s findings and had given “human safety-elevated weight in making my decision”.

Ley wrote that she had found the mine’s expansion was unlikely to lead to an increase in global average surface temperatures, based on advice she received from the department. She said this was because the mine was unlikely to cause more coal to be consumed globally than would be consumed if she refused the project.

She also found the project was unlikely to cause harm to human safety because it was likely that a comparable amount of coal would be consumed in its place if she rejected the development. She concluded that this meant the project would not result in an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions – a finding Lock the Gate labelled “bizarre”.

In response to questions on Friday, Ley said she was carrying out her responsibilities under national environmental laws.

“This approval follows a rigorous assessment process, includes strict environmental protection and has been approved by NSW,” her spokesman said. “The project will make an important contribution to the economy.”




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