The coal industry is at a crisis point worldwide, and any fallout from its decline will impact heavily on the Australian economy.
Barack Obama has stated that his goal is to gradually shut-down every coal fired power station in the USA, and Green lobby groups worldwide are calling for the picketing of all new coal mines anywhere on the planet. Warren Buffett has said that decline of coal mining is gradual, but permanent.
Gas, more so than nuclear, is being promoted as the ideal alternate to totally replace coal and, to add to the problem, coal prices are steadily dropping to the point where it soon will become uneconomic to dig it up. Then, there is the issue of the relationship between miners and farmers, which is at a low ebb and becoming even more militant on both sides.
All of this uncertainty has led to a tightening of the equity and debt markets for coal mines, with junior miners not having strong enough balance sheets to back their development capital requirements. This leads us to a dismal looking future for coal — so the industry is now slowly and reluctantly seeking ways to turn its fortunes around. Continue reading “The Search for Clean Coal”