7 August 2015, Renew Economy, Coal industry assets are the penny dreadfuls of new economy. They used to be known as penny dreadfuls – the highly speculative stocks that became the playthings of the mining boom of the 1960s and 1970s and what followed. And judging by the moniker accorded them, they were mostly bad outcomes. The currency units might have changed, but it seems that the moniker still applies – not just to speculative mining stocks with tall tales of mythical or unobtainable ore bodies, but to the thermal coal industry, with equally tall tales of a long-term market for its commodity. And it seems that one dollar, a greenback, or even just one euro can go an awfully long way in the coal industry these days. In Australia, it can buy you a mine that just three years ago was valued at $860 million. Brazilian miner Vale and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp have just sold the Isaac Plains coking-coal mine in Queensland to Stanmore Coal for a single dollar. Sumitomo bought a half stake for $A430 million in 2012. In Germany, one euro can buy you a share in a brand new, never used, 1.6GW coal-fired generator in Hamm. RWE has offered to pay €1 to the 23 municipalities for their share of the $4 billion facility that not only faces major technical issues, but it is also effectively redundant and not needed in a country now more dependent on renewable energy.
Still, the Abbott government doesn’t get it. Environment minister Greg Hunt has launched an extraordinary attack on the environmental groups that have fought the Carmichael mine. Abbott himself told The Australian on Friday that environmental groups were “sabotaging” the coal industry through protests and court action. Which might explain why the Abbott government is keen to support the mining lobby, which has forced a parliamentary inquiry into whether environmental NGO’s should be allowed to receive tax deductible donations. “As a country we must, in principle, favour projects like this (Carmichael),” the Prime Minister told The Australian. “This is a vitally important project for the economic development of Queensland and it’s absolutely critical for the human welfare literally of tens of millions of people in India.” Not so much a triumph of hope over reality, but a stunning disregard for environmental impacts and market forces. If Abbott were to put money into Carmichael – as his government has signalled it might, via its northern infrastructure development fund – it would be an act of absolute recklessness, and make even the proverbial lift boy look like an investment genius. Read More here