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Coal Truckers Protest Renewables in South Africa

Coal truck drivers in South Africa recently protested against the government’s decision to invest in renewable energy from independent power producers. On March 1, traffic came to a standstill in Pretoria, South Africa, when contracted coal truck transporters were moving at a snail’s pace in an effort to get a reaction from the government regarding Eskom’s intention to use more renewable energy, ESI Africa reported. More than 100 coal truck drivers blocked several roads around the capital. In February, while delivering the State of the Nation address, South African President Jacob Zuma said his administration was now more committed to the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP). He emphasized a move toward renewables while explaining that the government continues to work toward ensuring national energy security.

India Pushes Coal Production Despite Weak Demand

The Indian government will continue to push for higher coal production in the 2017-2018 fiscal year despite sluggish demand, piling up of pithead stocks and missed targets. Indications available from the federal Ministry of Coal indicate that the latter will set a production target of 660 million metric tons (mt) during 2017-2018 for Coal India Ltd. (CIL), which accounts for more than 80% of domestic supply.

The production target for next year would be about 15% higher than CIL’s expected coal production during 2016-2017. During the period April-December 2016, the miner produced 377.7 million mt of coal, compared to the 417 million mt target set by the Ministry of Coal, as per official data released. It is expected to close in the current fiscal year (at the end of March) with a production of 582 million mt against a government target of 598 million mt.

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Russia, Iran Begin Building Large Power Plant

Russia and Iran have begun the construction of a 1.4-gigawatt (GW) coal-fired power plant in Bandar Abbas in southern Iran, according to Iran Daily, citing Sputnik. The Russian company Technopromexport and an Iranian holding company signed an agreement on the construction of a thermal power plant in Iran with $1.27 billion funded by Russia. The Russians will also improve the efficiency at the Ramin power plant in the Khuzestan Province to 50%-55% from the current 36%, a government official said.

China Bans North Korean Coal Imports

In a bid to comply with the United Nations Security Council resolution that China participated in drafting in November last year, the country has now decided to ban all coal imports from North Korea, according to the Malaysia Sun. China’s decision also comes in light of the recent missile test conducted by North Korea. The country announced the decision in a public notice that was issued by China’s Ministry of Commerce, along with the country’s customs agency.

Poland to Reduce Coal Output

The Polish government wants to reduce coal output to 65 million metric tons (mt) from a little more than 70 million mt in 2016, the Warsaw Voice reported. The Polish Energy Ministry also said it is working on a program to improve the coal sector through 2030.