Coal wars: news from the frontline


It’s been another big month here on the climate frontlines. October began with another action disrupting work on Adani’s rail corridor – writer Ben Winch locking himself to a cattle grid on the road to Adani’s site and stopping work for five hours. Ben’s action highlighted the disastrous waste of our precious water that would come from the Carmichael mine. Ben, along with Kyle Magee who last month stopped work on Adani’s coal export terminal, have both been in court this month and had their cases adjourned. We’ll keep you posted on how they go.

The powerful effect of years of resistance to Adani was shown again this month. First of all, Adani rebranded its controversial Abbot Point coal terminal as “North Queensland Export Terminal” – with a new website that doesn’t mention Adani or even coal. The port has previously been fined for environmental breaches, and in August was forced to pay $106 million to its own customers for “deliberate dishonest behaviour”. The rebrand shows Adani’s name is now so toxic that even the company itself won’t use it.

Those effects were being felt by insurance companies too. The most recent corporate target of the Stop Adani movement has been insurance giant Lloyd’s of London, and this month one of its companies Apollo Underwriting announced it would not be continuing to insure Adani beyond its current contract. That brings the number of companies who have announced they will not work with Adani to 89 (and counting!)

We know people all over Australia have been taking action against Adani, and we’ve seen the way companies in London and across the world have been taking notice. We should also highlight that in India, there have been huge and consistent protests against many of Adani’s damaging projects there. Most recently, in the last few days thousands of people in Goa blocked a rail line to stop the expansion of Adani’s coal port and transportation there.

Also this month, folks at Camp Binbee joined in with people around the world in the Big Canopy Campout – celebrating native forests and the hardworking people who are defending them from logging and deforestation. 

Check out our video from the campout here. Later in the month we were reminded of the need to protect those trees, when the Victorian government cut down several beautiful trees that are sacred to the Djab Wurrung First Nations people – as part of a highway upgrade designed to save motorists a few minutes. After a determined blockade, a court injunction has been taken out against the work. FLAC stands with the Djab Wurrung people in that struggle.

The struggle for climate justice takes many forms, and one is the realm of arts and culture. I’m sure we can all point to books, films and songs that have impacted how we view the world; so it is exciting to see people making powerful art about current environmental issues and the courageous and creative work being done in response. October saw the premiere of the documentary Wild Things, which features Frontline Action on Coal amongst others around Australia taking action to protect our planet. There will be more opportunities to see it, watch the trailer here.

This Sunday November 8th we are excited for the premiere of another film,Forest Defenders. It is about the struggle to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests, and is the result of the hard work of some of our talented FLAC friends. Tune in with us for the screening on Sunday.

Also, the classic FLAC compilation album Rock’n’Roll for Blockin’ Coal finally went up on spotify and other streaming services this month. You can still buy an mp3 download here, but now you can also enjoy streaming it on whichever platform you prefer.

October ended with a Queensland election. Sadly, unlike the last two state elections, there were no promises from either major party to hold Adani to account, and climate action was rarely a part of the campaigning from either. Though the state can breathe a sigh of relief that we at least still have a government that believes in climate change, we know the change we really need will only come from everyday people taking what action we can to stand up for what’s right. With state borders beginning to reopen, we invite people to join us in central Queensland and help protect our climate and all that relies on it. See you on the frontlines!

Andy and the crew at Camp Binbee 🙂
Frontline Action on Coal

Frontline Action on Coal acknowledges elders, past present and future. We respect the communication protocols and the important role of Elders in culture and heritage protection advice. We recognise and respect cultural heritage, beliefs, customs and the continuing relationship and responsibility to traditional land and water and day and night sky. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the people living today and future generations, and stand in solidarity with First Nations people in their continuing struggle for justice.

Industry news sources report that Beijing has told several state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop imports with immediate effect.

2 thoughts on “Coal wars: news from the frontline

  1. China declares war on Australian coal says:

    China has declared war on Aussie Coal

    Aussie coal market is a highly organised and regulated market.Aussie coal is to be bought by PRC,only for very high quality Coal in terms of UHV/Kcal.A bulk of the CIFFO rates of Aussie coal for PRC,is sea freight,in Break Bulk Ships.Even with deep draft ports,and even if Chinese ships are used on Time Charters – sea freight,is s a waste.

    Therefore Aussie high grade coal,is to be used for high value added super critical applications, in PRC. Every ton of High Grade coal,is also a Call Option,to buy lower priced coal,and lower graded coal,for blending options,to reduce cost at point of usage.dindooohindoo

    However,this is the time for the PRC to make acquisitions (in Africa and Borneo etc.) and long term contracts with Nil Call Option premiums.At this point,committed quantity contracts,will provide solvency and bank loans,for coal mines. Hence,there will be Nil Option premiums loaded into the coal pricing contracts for medium term purchases.

    When coal prices boom,the PRC can mine the highest cost first,as a stripping strategy – with the strategic objective of bargaining with large coal suppliers,for residual coal supplies.This option is NOT there for the Koreans and Japanese.Of Course, the Koreans have their own bag of tricks.

    Hence,the Aussies and Indonesians can price gouge the Koreans and Japanese (as they have no strategic mining reserves),and the PRC can avail of some of this price gouging – when it does its acquisition of coal,from the Aussies.Aussies price gouging on the Koreans,will work only if PRC mines acquired in Africa,do not flood Nippon,and so,the Aussies have to pay a toll to PRC,for the price gouged by the Aussies,from the Koreans and Japanese

    After stripping the high cost coal – the Chinese coal suppliers can easily raise,VC or Bank capital.

    When coal prices and freights are low – as it is,at this instant,it is better to do spot pricing – as the suppliers have no bargaining power.There is only a supply chain risk,due to production and logistics bottlenecks.

    In these times there is no need to invest in building up infrastructure,as lack of infra,can be used to hammer down coal prices at rake point or the mine pit head.Indonesia is an example,which gets the highest FOB rates for exports to PRC.Small unorganised mines in Borneo,Sumatra,Java sell coal at less than half the FOB rates,as they want cash down payment,at mine pit head.

    Cash = CASH.

    This state is due to the poor infra in several areas.Hence poor infra can be used to buy coal at less than 40% of the FOB rates.Thereafter the coal is to be carted to the port.Hence,the aim is to keep the unorganised coal miners,as vulnerable as possible.

    Ideally,PRC can set up a bank which can discount export documents,at coal mine pit head with Multimodal Bill of Lading,with a chinese company managing and coordinating the rakes and trucks,to the port,and the loading of the ship,at outer anchorage,via barges.

    The Chinese companies can pay the miners in Cash.Generally,in Africa and Indonesia,the Military provides the security to the logistics movement,for a fee,of course.

    Aussie mining is highly organsied and regulated and so,is very expensive.

    In any case,wherever PRC is using coal for thermal power,for base load requirements,it can offset the coal with Nuke Power or Gas/Naptha.Super critical applications of coal,for PRC,are for those industries,where Coal is a RAW MATERIAL,and the quality and coal specifications,are stringent.

    Indonesia is a good option for PRC,as the nation is run by Chinese.80% of the companies on the JKSE are owned, managed or controlled by chinese.The Indonesians know that their nation cannot defend its islands from the PLN.It is a Muslim nation,which is NOT likely ever to be a part of the QUAD.Most importantly,the nation relies on resources exports – and has no viable domestic manufacturing industry. Indonesia does NOT need coal,as it has geo thermal power,but not the skills or the money,to tap it.

    Hence,it has LOW political risk at present – but,in the future,if the economy fails (which it will),demagogues will take over and ruin the economy further (but will uplift the poor).

    Indonesia has history with Australia,and Aussie int has many spies in Jakarta,and the Aussies also supported and still supports,the separatists who want to secede,from Indonesia.

    Aussies have to export coal in the form of power or urea or urea in agriculture.Exporting coal,per se,is not a viable option.Reduction in Chinese demand will also impair pricing power with the Japanese/Koreans and other buyers. There is some serious problem in the Aussie coal policy.Adani an Indian company fronting for Narendra Modi,is mining coal from Aussie and exporting it to India for power generation.So all the poison is left in Aussie land,and the real value addition in the coal value chain,is done in India,and the profit on that value addition,is not taxed in Aussie.Besides,the coal is sold by Adani Australia to Adani India,at a discounted rate.

    What does that prove ? It means that the Aussie state could not convince any Aussie to do some value addition in Aussie land on that coal,to earn ANY PROFIT on the value addition (as the profit from power generation in India,is not taxed in Aussie land) This is AFTER considering the SEA FREIGHT,on the coal exported by Adani to India.

    If that is the state of affairs – then the Aussie coal sector is doomed.The beauty is that Adani is generating power in India – and India is POWER SURPLUS and the power tarriffs for coal is 5-7 cents (on the USD). With captive coal and iron,if Aussies CANNOT add value to the Aussie coal – then the Aussies are in serious trouble.Someone might ask,Y Aussies did not offer 6 cents/Kwh for power sold from the power plant of Adani in Aussie land

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