Google Website Translator Gadget

Saturday, March 19, 2011

6.1 quake hits south of stricken Japan nuclear plant

Mar 19, 2011, 03.54pm IST AFP |

OSAKA: A strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake rattled Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture south of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the country's meteorological agency said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake shook buildings in Tokyo, but no damage was immediately reported, public broadcaster NHK said, adding that flights at the capital's Narita Airport were temporarily suspended for safety checks.

Germany suspends deal to extend nuclear plants' life

Mar14, 2011 8:19pm GMT
By David Stamp

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has suspended a coalition agreement to delay closing the nation's ageing nuclear power stations, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday after the Japanese crisis stiffened opposition to an unpopular deal.

Last year, the coalition agreed to prolong the life of the 17 nuclear plants -- some of which are well over 30 years old -- beyond their original planned closure dates. On Monday Merkel said this agreement would now be suspended for three months.

As Japanese engineers struggle to avoid a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear complex, Merkel faces a backlash on her nuclear policy before elections in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg later this month.

One of Germany's oldest nuclear reactors is in the state, where Merkel's conservative CDU party risks losing power in the polls two weeks from now, partly because of rising support for the opposition Greens.

"We will suspend the extension of the life of Germany's nuclear power stations, which was decided only recently. The moratorium will last for three months," Merkel told a news conference, saying safety tests would be applied "without taboos."

The government had decided to keep the nuclear plants -- operated by E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall -- running for about 12 years beyond their original shutdown date, despite protests even before the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on Friday.


Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said the moratorium meant that the Neckarwestheim I plant in Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is operated by EnBW, should be taken offline and was unlikely to start up again.

However, an EnBW spokesman said the utility would keep Neckarwestheim I operating pending talks with the government.

Later, a source quoted Bavaria's environment minister as saying that the Isar 1 plant in the southern state should also go offline.

On Saturday, anti-nuclear protesters formed a 45-km (27 mile) human chain from the Baden-Wuerttemberg capital of Stuttgart to Neckarwestheim I. Between 50,000 and 60,000 demonstrators took part, according to police and organisers.

A coalition source said RWE's Biblis A also faced a shut down. Under the original closure schedule both reactors, which began operating in the mid-70s, had been due to close this year.

Merkel said she was not worried about Germany's electricity supply as the country was a net exporter of energy. On Monday protesters gathered outside her office, waving banners saying "Atomic power? No thank you!."

Germany had been due to go nuclear-free after the last plant reached the originally planned end of its life in 2021. But pressure, largely from the power industry, grew to keep the stations open.

Last year's agreement was supposed to end months of division on the issue between the CDU and its junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats.

No new nuclear power stations have opened in Germany for decades because of public hostility, especially after the 1986 disaster when the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine exploded, spewing radiation across much of Europe.

(Additional reporting by Thorsten Severin, Andreas Rinke and Gernot Heller,UK.reuters)

Tourists gone, bikes back in once-popular Japan town

Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:12am GMT

* Tourists desert town after earthquake
* Bicycles replace cars due to fuel shortages
* Local economy under threat, as across Japan's northeast
By Chang-Ran Kim

TONO, Japan, March 19 (Reuters) - More than a week after an earthquake and tsunami smashed much of Japan's northeast coast to pulp, a small tourist town tucked safely between mountains has ground nearly to a halt.

Tono, a city of 30,000 about 30 km (20 miles) from the Pacific, usually enjoys a steady flow of visitors attracted to the birthplace of much Japanese folklore, including ghoulish tales of mountain spirits and mythical creatures.

"Since the earthquake on March 11, we haven't had a single visitor," laments local tourism board official Shinichi Tachibana at the city's main rail station. It closed for service after the tremor damaged train tracks.

Instead of renting its 120 bicycles to visitors, the city-run tourist office now lends them for free to locals forced to keep cars parked due to the sudden shortage of fuel.

Petrol stations on the main street are roped off.

Not even emergency vehicles can obtain fuel without a special permit by the regional government, and even then sometimes only five litres at a time, says an attendant.

Across much of the northeast, which is reeling from the double impact of an earthquake and tsunami, two-hour waits are common at the few fuel stations open to individuals.

While Tono's population is relatively small, the city covers an area bigger than all Tokyo's 23 wards combined, so getting around without a car is difficult.


Without tourism, this sleepy town -- like many others in the northeast -- could be in for a long and heavy blow to an economy that had already declining due to the shrinking population.

"It's probably going to get worse now," says Eiko Niisato, 69, who runs a small tofu food business with her husband and son.

She is under no illusions that the government will step in to help, knowing the devastated coast and crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant demand more attention.

"The government itself has no money, and the whole country is in crisis. We'll do what we can to survive, because what else is there to do?"

Niisato is, however, among the lucky ones right now in Tono. Her family business is at least enjoying a temporary boom since out-of-town wholesalers are unable to deliver to the big supermarkets.

Elsewhere, though, small businesses on side streets are mostly shuttered, and the streets are empty of pedestrians and cars.

A handwritten sign at a dimly lit butcher shop advertises it is open for business, but only two blocks of meat remain.

Major supermarkets are open, but shelves have been emptied of frozen foods, milk and many other products.

"Three days ago I bought a bicycle and I'm using it for commuting," says Katsuhiro Tada, a 32-year-old builder who cycled to the supermarket from his workplace.

The home depot centre where he purchased his bicycle is now out of stock, he says.

A nearby barber shop is also open but proprietor Fujiko Segawa is watching television with a friend rather than cutting hair. "I guess it must be the earthquake," she says.

The tourism board's Tachibana says he has no idea when Tono might return to normal. "I guess we're stuck until the trains start running. Who knows when that'll be?" (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Indonesia not ready for building nuclear plant: minister

Sat, Mar19, 2011 14:59:57

Jakarta, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia is not ready to build nuclear power plants due to human resources issues and public opposition, the Jakarta Post quoted a minister as saying on Saturday.

Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said that nuclear power plants should be the last resort since the country still had several energy option.

Gusti's statement comes as the National Atomic Energy Agency ( BATAN) insists on going ahead with its nuclear plant program despite mounting opposition.

"There's no need to hurry to build a nuclear power plant except if we start running out of energy resources," he told the daily on Friday.

He said that Indonesia could explore cleaner energy options such as geothermal, wind or water to power electricity plants.

Aside from problems with the supply of raw materials, the government needs to ensure the public about the security aspect following Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis, he said.

"It is not easy to ensure a public that is skeptical about nuclear reactors in Indonesia," he added.

Under the 2009 Environmental Law, Gusti's office is responsible for issuing environmental impact analysis documents for strategic businesses, including for nuclear power plants.

The nuclear crisis in Japan, triggered by the 9.0 Richter scale- earthquake, has forced the Japanese government to evacuate an area up to 30 km from the plant site.

Like Japan, Indonesia is located within the ring of fire that is prone to earthquakes.

BATAN Head Hudi Hastowi has insisted that the office would go ahead with the plan since it had been mandated by law. Editor: Zhang Xiang

Time for nuclear review, Chernobyl nuclear Japanese nuclear crisis

Saturday March 19, 2011

By Jeeva Arulapalam,

TWENTY-FIVE years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, fears that Japan's nuclear crisis may trigger similar ramifications have caused governments worldwide to review their adoption of nuclear energy.

Japan, hit with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami last Friday, is now coping with its own nuclear crisis after the tsunami caused Fukushima Daiichi power station's reactor to start overheating, causing radiation.

This nuclear scare has caused many nations to exercise stress tests on exiting nuclear reactors, with some even shutting down older nuclear power plants.

But an industry observer highlights that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The shutting of nuclear power plants globally will result in higher utilisation of gas and coal (commodities that will not last forever), which will drive commodity prices up further. A London Commodity Brokers report issued on Thursday said that European coal futures for 2012 have added

9% to US$ 134/tonnes since Friday's close after the earthquake and resulting tsunami shut some Japanese nuclear power plants, potentially forcing the country to burn more coal.

Malaysia, which has expressed interests in developing nuclear energy for future usage, currently relies heavily on coal and gas for electricity supply, with coal almost entirely imported and gas supply from Peninsular Malaysia fast diminishing.

The import of gas needs to commence within the next few years, Performance Management and Delivery Unit director for oil, gas and energy under the New Key Economic Areas Dr Emir Mavani told StarBizWeek.

The total potential of green energy is limited to around 4,000 MW, based on the assessment by the Green Technology Corp of Malaysia.

Coal, oil, gas, hydropower and nuclear energy are widely considered as commercial energy sources, with established economic competitiveness and supply chains globally.

“In contrast, renewable energy sources, including solar power, are considered alternative energy sources and not expected to be capable of substituting commercial energy sources. Nevertheless, renewable energy sources are expected to play an important role in reducing commercial energy demand, by augmenting overall energy supply,” said Dr Emir.


In the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis, governments globally are re-looking at safety aspects of their current operating nuclear power plants and have also started to question the wisdom in relying on civil nuclear energy as part of an energy mix given the potential safety hazards in the eventuality of a nuclear power plant meltdown.

China, the world's second-biggest energy user, has taken pro-active measures by suspending approvals for new plants and those in the pre-development plans until nuclear safety regulations are approved. With some 13 reactors in operation now, the country is currently building roughly 27 new reactors as part of its proposed plan to have over 100 nuclear power plants in the coming years.

European Union (EU) energy ministers have collectively agreed to carry out stress tests on the 143 nuclear power plants spread across 14 EU countries, following the recent nuclear crisis in Japan.

The stress tests will include risk assessments of possible damage by earthquakes, terrorist attacks, power fallouts and tsunamis among others.

The EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger had also the raised the prospects of a nuclear-free future for Europe in a meeting held last Tuesday among EU nations to discuss the nuclear crisis and safety measures.

Germany, which has 17 nuclear reactors operating currently, has decided to shutdown seven of its oldest reactors for a three-month duration to conduct safety probes.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy said that the recent nuclear crisis has given rise to questions on safety of nuclear power stations and its importance in energy mix.

However, France, the second-largest producer of nuclear power worldwide after the US with some 58 reactors operating now, will continue relying on nuclear energy given that it is an essential element of the country's energy independence.

US President Barack Obama, who is a proponent of nuclear energy development, is still keen on pursuing nuclear power as the country's overall energy plan. He said the country would take lessons learnt from Japan and continuously update how the US approached nuclear safety, and has asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the safety of all US nuclear plants.

The US has some 104 nuclear reactors providing 20% of the nation's electricity. It was reported by various news agencies that no new nuclear power plant has been built in the country since it experienced its own nuclear disaster in 1979, when a reactor at the Third Mile Island power plant, Pennsylvania, overheated causing radioactive gases to be released.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with CNN that he was reconsidering nuclear energy for the country due to the radiation leaks stemming from Japan's nuclear crisis.

He was reported to have said that the uncertainty over how the crisis will play out has left a cloud' hanging over the world and he was not keen to pursue civil nuclear energy in the coming years.


Malaysia has started to look at the feasibility of utilising nuclear energy as part of the country's energy mix. This is due to the power sector facing a major challenge as declining gas production will have an impact on the power generation industry. Currently, 58% of power generated in Peninsular Malaysia is based on natural gas, with the remainder coming from coal (37%) and hydro (5%).

A foreign research analyst says the country has to look at other renewable energy options, such as nuclear energy, especially since rising coal prices were impacting the bottomline of the country's energy provider, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

“It is unfair that TNB has to bear the brunt of rising coal prices without electricity tariffs moving up. What needs to be worked out is a proper cost-pass through mechanism,” she says.

However, she adds that renewable energies such as solar and wind depend very much on nature, which could impact the sustainable production of energy.

Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), Malaysia is exploring the option of deploying nuclear energy to meet future demand and diversify the energy mix for Peninsular Malaysia. A Nuclear Power Development Steering Committee, headed by the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, was set up in June 2009 to plan for the country's potential nuclear energy needs.

The committee will prepare a Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development Plan to be ready by 2013, of which the ETP says that a nuclear power pre-feasibility study and initial site selection study has already been undertaken.

The plan will lay out a development timeframe of 12 years from pre-project to commissioning of a twin-unit nuclear power plant with a total capacity of two gigawatts costing up to RM21.3bil, with the first unit to be operational by 2021.

The rational behind pushing nuclear energy adoption is that it would be cost-competitive, supplying the cheapest source of energy. Aside form this, nuclear power is a cleaner energy than coal and gas (zero grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kwh vs 800 and 400 grams respectively.)

While these details have been made known in the ETP, what many may be interested to note is that a key enabler to the nuclear energy project taking off is public acceptance.

Many quarters have expressed concern over the development of nuclear power plants locally, with political figureheads as well as environmental and consumers groups urging the government to re-consider other renewable energy options instead of adopting nuclear energy.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said that the proposal to construct nuclear power plants for electricity has not been decided yet by the Cabinet.

The Environmental Protection Society Malaysia president Nithi Nesaduraio says that Malaysia does not need nuclear power plants, with such facilities left vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

However, an industry source familiar with the country's nuclear development plans, says that it is premature to make any call on the impact to Malaysia's nuclear plan.

“Malaysia is not in an earthquake belt and the tsunami risk has been taken into account in the local nuclear power plant siting activity,” says the source.

It is good to point out here that the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power stations had shut off automatically after the earthquake but the emergency cooling systems failed to work after the tsunami damaged the plant's local backups. This has led the Japanese authorities to douse water onto the nuclear reactor from aerial and ground levels to keep it cool.

Back to Malaysia among the renewable energies up for consideration under the energy mix include hydro, solar and biomass. But the drawback of solar and biomass plants is that the energy output would pale in comparison to the output of nuclear power plants.

Dr Emir says a major constraint of renewable energy sources is availability.

For example, solar power supply is dependent on the availability of sunshine, which is constraint by climatic conditions, such as rain or clouds, and unavailable at night.

Hydropower is constraint by the catchment area and the size of the reservoir. The amount of electricity that could be generated by hydropower stations are limited by the volume of water that could be stored in the reservoir.

Dr Emir adds that to compensate for these constraints, redundant back-up electricity generation capacity need to be established, in the event that such renewable energy sources are not available in time of need. This would increase overall investment cost.

“Should Malaysia proceed with nuclear power plants, there needs to be an independent watchdog that is established to oversee the safety requirements on these plants,” says an industry observer.

As the world awaits to assess the potential damage from Japan's nuclear crisis, this may be the right time to reflect on the country's future energy mix and potential dependency on nuclear power.

BP, Total win new coal bed methane blocks in Kalimantan

Mar 19, 2011 00:31

BP was awarded three blocks in Central Kalimantan, while French energy major Total won one block in East Kalimantan, the ministry’s director general for oil and gas, Evita Herawati Legowo, told reporters. Legowo said BP and its consortium partner have committed to investing $13.55 million for the first three years of exploration activities in the three blocks, while Total’s commitment is $4.3 million.

BP was one of four firms winning oil and gas blocks in November last year with total planned investment of $28 million.

Indonesia plans to offer 50 oil and gas blocks as well as 10 coal bed methane blocks in 2011 to investors as the country seeks to boost investment in the sector, the energy ministry said late last year.

The energy ministry will offer 39 oil and gas blocks via tender and the reminder through direct offer.

The Indonesian government expects 215.34 trillion rupiah ($23.78 billion) in revenue from the oil and gas sector this year based on an average price of $80 per barrel, data from the energy and mineral resources ministry showed in January.

The target is lower than actual 2010 revenues of 220.987 trillion rupiah. (sourced Reuters)

Nuclear Power versus coal

Friday | March 18, 2011

Suppose that a giant hydro dam had crumbled under the impact of the biggest earthquake in a century and sent a wave of water racing down some valley in northern Japan. Imagine that whole villages and towns had been swept away, and that 10 people were killed - an even worse death toll than that caused by the tsunami that hit the coastal towns.

Would there be a great outcry worldwide, demanding that reservoirs be drained and hydro dams shut down? Of course not. Do you think we are superstitious savages? We are educated, civilised people, and we understand the way that risk works.

Okay, another thought experiment. Suppose that three big nuclear-power reactors were damaged in that same monster earthquake, leading to concerns about a meltdown and a massive release of radiation - a new Chernobyl. Everybody within a 20km (14-mile) radius of the plant was evacuated, but in the end there were only minor leakages of radiation, and nobody was killed.

Well, that was a pretty convincing demonstration of the safety of nuclear power, wasn't it? Well, wasn't it? You there in the loincloth, with the bone through your nose. Why are you looking so frightened? Is something wrong?

U.S., Germany reconsider

In Germany, tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated against nuclear power last Saturday, and Chancellor Angela Merkel suspended her policy of extending the life of the country's nuclear power stations until 2036. She conceded that, following events in Japan, it was not possible to "go back to business as usual", meaning that she may return to the original plan to close down all 17 of Germany's nuclear power plants by 2020.

And in the United States, Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey (Democratic), who co-sponsored the 2009 climate bill, called for hearings into the safety and preparedness of America's nuclear plants, 23 of which have similar designs to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

The objections to a wider use of nuclear power in the US are mostly rational. Safety worries are a much smaller obstacle than concerns about cost and time: nuclear plants are enormously expensive, and they take the better part of a decade to license and build. Huge cost overruns are normal, and government aid, in the form of loan guarantees and insurance coverage for catastrophic accidents, is almost always necessary.

The cost of wind and solar power is steadily dropping, and the price of natural gas, the least noxious fossil-fuel alternative to nuclear power, has been in free fall. There is no need for a public debate in the United States on the desirability of more nuclear power: just let the market decide. In Europe, however, there is a real debate, and the wrong side is winning it.

Nuclear phase-out

The European debate has focused on shutting down existing nuclear-generating capacity, not installing more of it. The German and Swedish governments may be forced by public opinion to revive the former policy of phasing out all their nuclear-power plants in the near future, even though that means postponing the shutdown of highly polluting coal-fired power plants. Other European governments face similar pressures.

It's a bad bargain. Hundreds of miners die every year digging the coal out of the ground, and hundreds of thousands of other people die annually from respiratory diseases caused by the pollution created by burning it. In the long run, hundreds of millions may die from the global warming that is driven in large part by greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power plants. Yet people worry more about nuclear power.

It's the same sort of mistaken assessment of risk that caused millions of Americans to drive long distances instead of flying in the months just after 9/11. There were several thousand excess road deaths, while nobody died in the airplanes that the late lamented had avoided as too dangerous. Risks should be assessed rationally, not emotionally.

And here's the funny thing. So long as the problems at Fukushima Daiichi do not kill large numbers of people, the Japanese will not turn against nuclear power, which currently provides more than 30 per cent of their electricity and is scheduled to expand to 40 per cent. Their islands get hit by more big earthquakes than anywhere else on earth, and the typhoons roar in regularly off the Pacific. They understand about risk. (sourced The Gleaner)

3 Indian cos in race to bid for Bandanna Energy's coal assets

Mar18, 2011,03.56AM IST,
By Vinu Lal & MV Ramsurya, ET Bureau

BANGALORE/MUMBAI: Three top Indian companies have joined the race to bid for the coal assets of one of Australia's largest thermal coal explorers - Bandanna Energy - in a deal that could be valued at $1.5 billion. GVK, state-owned consortium ICVL and Reliance Power have shown early interest in bidding for the assets estimated to have reserves of over 1.3 billion tonnes of thermal coal, said people familiar with the development.

Bandanna Energy has initiated an auction process to sell the assets and has mandated UBS to advise it on the transaction. The last date for submission of bids is March 31, 2011.

An information memorandum circulated among bidders, a copy of which is with ET, indicate that the company has $750 million worth assets. A feasibility study on some of its coal assets completed last month, soon after which the sale process was kicked off.

Thermal coal is used by utility coal-fired power plants. Expanding capacities by companies in various industries have led to a rise in power consumption. While India is also rich in thermal coal deposits, high ash content in local coal and reduced production by Coal India, has prompted most user companies to scout global resource rich nations to tap for coal assets.

A GVK spokesperson did not reply to an email query sent by ET. Senior officials from GVK are currently in Australia. A Reliance Power spokesman denied the company is considering bidding for the coal assets. A senior ICVL executive said that the company was evaluating all options with respect to coal assets in Australia. "We have a board meeting scheduled on March 21 where we will take a call on all bids," he added. ICVL comprises of mining major NMDC, utility NTPC , steelmakers SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam , and Coal India.

Bandanna chairman Jeremy Barlow did not respond to an email query.

Bandanna would look at selling both minority or majority stake in its ongoing projects as well as explore the possibility of selling the entire entity as a whole. According to a person close to the bidder, current discussions initiated by the banker relate to a possible entity level sale rather than piecemeal project-level sale. "It is typical for a project as large as this to initially explore entity level interests than piecemeal selloffs," said the person.

Bandanna Energy has exploration licences for 16 blocks in the Bowen and Galilee Basins in Queensland. The company also has shale gas assets in the region. Six founder shareholders led by chairman Jeremy Barlow, own close to 70% stake in the listed Bandanna Energy.

Local demand for coal reported a compounded annual growth rate of over 8% during a five-year period till FY2010, to reach almost 600 million tonnes last year. The demand from the power sector, which accounts for over 70% of the country's overall coal demand, has been a major driving force, said a recent report by ICRA.

Australia Newcastle Thermal Coal Falls 4.9% to $123.29 a Ton

Mar 18, 2011 5:57 PM GMT+0530
By Rakteem Katakey

Power-station coal prices at Australia’s Newcastle port, an Asian benchmark, declined 4.9 percent in the week ending today.

Coal prices at the New South Wales port decreased to $123.29 a metric ton from $129.60 the previous week, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index.

Xstrata Plc (XTA), the world’s largest exporter of power-station coal, BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Rio Tinto Group are among mining companies that ship coal through Newcastle.(By bloomberg)

Tags:Rio Tinto, power plant coal, Asian benchmark

Friday, March 18, 2011

CISA lobbies with Chinese premier to help tackle high ore prices

Friday, 18 Mar 2011

Bloomberg reported that the China Iron and Steel Association has asked Premier Mr Wen Jiabao to take measures to help steelmakers tackle iron ore prices as many of them will likely incur losses this month due to high costs.

Mr Luo Bingsheng special adviser and former executive vice chairman to the association, without specifying what measures the government would take, said that “Mr Wen and Vice Premier Mr Zhang Dejiang ordered the Ministry of Commerce to find solutions.”

Mr Luo said “The ultimate reason for the low profits is high iron ore prices. China should streamline its qualified importers to curb speculative purchases and control the inventory of imports at reasonable levels.”

He said that the government is actively studying the establishment of standards for imported iron ore.

Mr Luo said China iron ore production will rise 8.8% to 660 million tonnes this year, pacing estimates by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China iron ore imports fell 1.4% to 618.6 million tonnes last year, the first drop since 1998, after the government took measures to curb electricity use, rein in property speculations and as domestic mines increased output. (sourced:bloomberg)

If you believe an article violates your rights or the rights of others, please contact us.

Fall in Indonesian Coal Exports in February'2011

Friday, 18 March 11

Indonesian coal exports seen a fall of 10.76% during Feb 2011. The world’s largest coal exporter shipped 22.029 MMts of coal against its exports of 24.687 million tons in January 2011, according to the industry sources.

The Indonesian coal exports to the largest importers viz., India and China have shrunk to the extent of 9.27% and 11.71% respectively in the month of Feb'2011. India has imported a total tonnage of around 4.631 MMts (5.105MMts in Jan) as against Chinese imports of 4.234 MMts (4.796 MMts in Jan).

India remained the largest importer of Indonesian coal in February 2011.

The combined affect of slow down in the imports of Indonesian coal had a combined affect of 4.19% of total Indonesian coal exports in February. However, India pushed China to second place in this year.

Last two years Chinese's utilities have imported more Indonesian coal than Indian Utilities. However, in 2011 India has inched above the Chinese utilities usage of Indonesian coal. In to 40.24 percent of total Indonesian coal exports in February goes to India and China.

Top five Indonesian coal importers in February were India, China, Japan South Korea and Taiwan.

According to market players, since 2009 Indonesian coal witnessed higher exports due to the increased demand from India and China. Chinese and Indian end-user are always keep an eye on Indonesia for their coal needs, due to the fact that Indonesia is closer to their ports. this results in lesser voyage time resulting in lesser sea freights.

Increase in Indonesian exports of Low rank coal picked up in recent months. This is one of the main reason for India emerging as the topper for Indonesian exports. due to domestic coal shortage Indian consumers have devised a primitive method of blending of Low rank high moisture coal with the available linkage domestic coal. Indian domestic coal characterized by high ash (30% to 40%) and low moisture (9%) which can advantageously blend with Indonesian Low rank coal of high Moisture (<50%) and low ash (<8%).

Also the increase of Bio Mass and Co-generation capacities Low rank coals have become the order of the day. Also the higher discount prevailing for Low rank coals have encouraged their usage.

Due to the spate of demand for Low ranking coal (<3200 GAR coals with Moisture of up to 50%) Sumatra based LRC suppliers were also targeting Indian market for their exports. In view of this encouraging business Industry is worried and closely watching the proposed Indonesian Govt. policy of banning exports of Low ranking coals.

One of the Indian traders commented that due to good rain resulting in continuous Hydro power, drop in cement and steel demand in India resulted in accumulation of stocks in Indian ports and with the plants. This is the main reason for lower imports in Indonesian coal. However, he also added that, the next 4 months being summer months in India the demand for power, steel and cement increases thereby the movement in coal may be witnessed resulting in higher consumption.

Indonesia already successfully implemented monthly coal reference price for its coal. Coal producers were asked to comply with the government declared index prior to conclude any short term and long terms coal sales agreement with its buyers.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has set the March 2011 Indonesian Coal Reference Price for thermal coal at US$ 122.43 per ton, which is 3.63 percent lesser than February 2011 price of US$ 127.05.

Instead of dropped in HBA, Indonesian coal prices were still stand at steady to firm position. small scale mines from Kalimantan were offering 6300 GAD coal between US$ 82 - 87 per MT and premium coal supplier's prices were already in three digits, an international trader said.

According to market stakeholders, the prices may stand stable due to Japan's earth quake, tsunami and nuclear power plants blast, but the prices and demand will move more stronger in coming months.

However, there is sort of confusion prevailing over the price movements as Japanese industries might declare FORCE Majure. The ongoing disturbance in major oil producing countries like Egypt, Libya and Bahrain needs to be taken into account before arriving at the conclusion.

Any time the industry may be attacked by wide fluctuations both sides.


Above exportt information within this article is provided by coalspot on an "as is" and "as available” basis. All details about, given in good faith and has been collected from various press reports, organization and individuals considered reliable but without guarantee. While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information furnished in this article. COALspot shall be obliged if errors / omissions are brought to its notice for carrying out corrections in this article.(cs)

If you believe an article violates your rights or the rights of others, please contact us.

Japan battles nuclear crisis, power effort crucial

Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:20pm GM

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Yoko Nishikawa

TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) - Exhausted Japanese engineers scrambled to fix a power cable to two reactors at a tsunami-crippled nuclear power station on Saturday as they fought to prevent a deadly radiation release in the world's worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster.

The dangerous and complex challenge for about 300 workers at the Fukushima plant in northeastern Japan, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, has unsettled the world's financial markets and prompted an international reassessment of nuclear safety.

At the plant, from where people within 20 km (12 miles) have been evacuated to avoid radiation, engineers were hoping to attach power lines to two of the six reactors in order to
restart water pumps and cool overheated nuclear fuel rods.

Workers also sprayed water on the No.3 reactor, considered the most critical after steam was seen blowing off, a sign the rods could be becoming exposed.

If those tactics fail, the option of last resort may be to bury the sprawling 40-year-old plant in sand and concrete to prevent a catastrophic radiation release, the method used to seal huge leakages from Chernobyl after a huge blast there.

Japan has raised the severity rating of the nuclear crisis from Level 4 to Level 5 on the seven-level INES international scale, putting it on a par with America's Three Mile Island
accident in 1979, although some experts say it is more serious.

Chernobyl was a 7 on that scale.

The operation to avert a large-scale radiation leak has overshadowed the humanitarian aspect of Japan's toughest moment since World War Two, after it was struck last Friday by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami.

Around 6,500 have been confirmed killed in the double natural disaster, which turned whole towns into waterlogged wastelands, and 10,300 remain missing with many feared dead.

Some 390,000 people, including many among Japan's ageing population, are homeless and battling near-freezing temperatures in makeshift shelters in northeastern coastal areas.

Food, water, medicine and heating fuel are in short supply.

"Everything is gone, including money," said Tsukasa Sato, a 74-year-old barber with a heart condition, as he warmed his hands in front of a stove at a shelter for the homeless in Yamada, northern Japan.

Under enormous pressure over its handling of the combination of crises, Japan's government conceded it could have moved faster at the outset.

"An unprecedented huge earthquake and huge tsunami hit Japan. As a result, things that had not been anticipated in terms of the general disaster response took place," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters late on Friday.

Health officials and the U.N. atomic watchdog have said radiation levels in the capital Tokyo were not harmful, but the city has seen an exodus of tourists, expatriates and many
Japanese, who fear a blast of radioactive material.

"I'm leaving because my parents are terrified. I personally think this will turn out to be the biggest paper tiger the world has ever seen," said Luke Ridley, 23, from London as he sat at
Narita international airport using his laptop.

"I'll probably come back in about a month."

Amid their distress, Japanese were proud of the 300 or so nuclear plant workers toiling in the wreckage, wearing masks, goggles and protective suits sealed by duct tape.

"My eyes well with tears at the thought of the work they are doing," Kazuya Aoki, a safety official at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told Reuters.

Even if engineers restore power at the plant, the pumps may be too damaged to work.

The first step will be to restore power to pumps for reactors No. 1 and 2, and possibly 4, by Saturday, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, Japan's nuclear safety agency spokesman.

By Sunday, the government expects to connect electricity to pumps for its badly damaged reactor No.3 -- a focal point in the crisis because of its use of mixed oxides, or mox, containing
both uranium and highly toxic plutonium.

That could be a turning point.

"If they can get those electric pumps on and they can start pushing that water successfully up the core, quite slowly so you don't cause any brittle failure, they should be able to get it
under control in the next couple of days," said Laurence Williams, of Britain's University of Central Lancashire.

The last-resort option of burying the reactors could leave part of Japan off-limits for decades.


The Group of Seven rich nations, attempting to calm global financial markets after a tumultuous week, agreed on Friday to join in a rare concerted intervention to restrain a soaring yen.

The U.S. dollar surged more than two yen to 81.80 after the G7's pledge to intervene, leaving behind a record low of 76.25 hit on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei share index ended up 2.7 percent, recouping some of the week's stinging losses. It has lost 10.2 percent this week, wiping $350 billion off market capitalisation.

Expectations that Japanese insurers and companies would repatriate billions of dollars in overseas funds to pay for a reconstruction bill that is expected to be much costlier than the one that followed the Kobe earthquake in 1995 also have helped boost the yen.

The plight of those left homeless by the earthquake and tsunami worsened following a cold snap that brought heavy snow to worst-affected areas.

Nearly 320,000 households in the north were still without electricity, officials said, and the government said at least 1.6 million households lacked running water.

Aid groups say most victims are receiving attention, but there are pockets of acute suffering.

"We've seen children suffering with the cold, and lacking really basic items like food and clean water," said Stephen McDonald of Save the Children, in a statement on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg, Nathan Layne, Elaine Lies, Leika Kihara, Joseph Radford and Chris Gallagher in Japan; Fiona Ortiz in Madrid; Writing by Jason Szep and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Daniel Magnowski, sourced :Reuters)

If you believe an article violates your rights or the rights of others, please contact us

Japanese earthquake - Indian insurance companies turn away

Friday, 18 Mar 2011

It is reported that almost all the majors in Indian insurance sectors have stopped insuring steel cargos under shipment from Japanese ports.

Steel imports are normally done at CFR terms, where the insurance is undertaken by the buyers. (sourced:steelguru)

Chernobyl disaster

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine). It is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and it is the only one classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

The disaster began during a systems test on 26 April 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant, which is near the town of Pripyat. There was a sudden power output surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of explosions. This event exposed the graphite moderator components of the reactor to air, causing them to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area, including Pripyat. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Northern Europe. Large areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia were evacuated, and over 336,000 people were resettled. According to official post-Soviet data, about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus.

The accident raised concerns about the safety of the Soviet nuclear power industry, as well as nuclear power in general, slowing its expansion for a number of years and forcing the Soviet government to become less secretive about its procedures.

Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident. More than fifty deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers. Estimates of the total number of deaths attributable to the accident vary enormously, from possibly 4,000 to close to a million.[4][5] Despite the accident, Ukraine continued to operate the remaining reactors at Chernobyl until 2000, when the last reactor at the site was closed down.

For more information visit Wikipedia

Brilliant Greenpeace video on Chernobyl

"Chernobyl solution" may be last resort for Japan reactors

Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:01pm IST
By Elaine Lies

Tokyo(Reuters) - A "Chernobyl solution" may be the last resort for dealing with Japan's stricken nuclear plant, but burying it in sand and concrete is a messy fix that might leave part of the country as an off-limits radioactive sore for decades.

Japanese authorities say it is still too early to talk about long-term measures while cooling the plant's six reactors and associated fuel-storage pools, comes first.

"It's just not that easy," Murray Jennex, a professor at San Diego State University in California, said when asked about the so-called Chernobyl option for dealing with damaged reactors, named after the Ukrainian nuclear plant that exploded in 1986.

"They (reactors) are kind of like a coffee maker. If you leave it on the heat, they boil dry and then they crack," he said.

"Putting concrete on that wouldn't help keep your coffee maker safe. But eventually, yes, you could build a concrete shield and be done with it."

Experts say the cores at the six battered reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, are likely to be safely contained, but worry about the cooling pools for spent fuel, one of which contains plutonium.

So far, authorities have failed to cool the pools, where normally water circulates continuously, keeping racks of spent nuclear fuel rods at a benign temperature.

Helicopters and water cannon trucks have dumped tonnes of water on the reactors, but still the water in the pools is evaporating and the rods are heating up. It is also feared that the quake has smashed the rods into each other, which could cause a nuclear reaction.

"It is not impossible to encase the reactors in concrete, but our priority right now is to try and cool them down first," a Tokyo Electric Power official told a briefing on Friday.


At Chernobyl, an army of workers conscripted by the then Soviet government buried the reactor in tonnes of sand, then threw together a concrete container known as the "sarcophagus" within months of the fire and explosion there.

It failed to set properly and it cracked, leaking radiation into the atmosphere and water. Partly supported by the damaged walls of the reactor building, it has had to be reinforced.

Under a new plan for Chernobyl, a massive structure will be assembled away from the reactor at a cost of billions of dollars, then slid into place over the existing sarcophagus.

Chernobyl-style methods would be even more difficult at Fukushima Daiichi, given the number of reactors involved.

As Japanese officials have said, cooling is still the top priority. Pouring sand onto hot fuel could theoretically produce glass, and that same heat would prevent working on a durable concrete shell.

That means the stricken complex is likely to become an open sore, leaking radioactive particles into the atmosphere, for weeks and possibly months before the Chernobyl solution could even be implemented.

Authorities say radiation outside the Japanese plant is not high enough to cause harm. Still, the 20 km (12 mile) exclusion zone around the plant may end up as a permanent no-man's land, a major problem for small, populous country.

A 30 km (19 mile) exclusion zone remains around Chernobyl.

Tokyo, though, is likely to remain largely unscathed no matter what happens because of its distance from the reactors, no matter how nervous its citizens may be.

It is not accidental that the nuclear plant was built so far away from Japan's biggest city, said Yuki Karakawa, international coordinator at the International Association of Emergency Managers, an extension of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Those reactors in Fukushima are there for Tokyo's power and Tokyo's benefit, not for Fukushima's," he added. "After all, Tokyo is more than 200 kilometres away."

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Mark Bendeich and Daniel Magnowski, Reuters)

Vale to stick to quarterly iron ore pricing

Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:13pm GMT

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's Vale (VALE5.SA: Quote), the world's top iron ore miner, will not switch to monthly iron ore contract pricing and will stick to quarterly pricing, Vale's global marketing director Pedro Gutemberg said.

"Vale is selling all contracted volumes on quarterly pricing. It is very happy with the quarterly prices and has no intention to switch to monthly prices at this time," Gutemberg told Reuters.

"We believe the three-month period is good enough to avoid major gaps with actual market prices and, on the other hand, smooth volatility of the monthly period."

When the annual benchmark system collapsed in 2010, the top three iron ore miners, Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, started to use various pricing mechanisms, based on quarterly indexed-prices.

Top global miner BHP Billiton (BLT.L: Quote) (BHP.AX: Quote) is already selling some iron ore on monthly basis and would like its contract prices to move even closer to the daily market price, a spokesman for the company said.

To price its contracted iron ore, Brazil's Vale uses a quarterly system in which prices are decided by a three-month average of the Platts North China 62 percent FE CFR index IODBZ00-PLT beginning four months before the relevant quarter. (Editing by William Hardy,Reuters)

Tata Steel raises Rs1,500 crore in perpetual bonds news

18 March 2011 |By domain-b

Tata Steel has successfully completed India's first-ever offering of corporate hybrid securities with an issue of Rs1,500 crore ($332 million). The issue of perpetual bonds was arranged by JP Morgan Securities India Private Ltd and ICICI Bank Ltd.

The bonds are perpetual in nature with no maturity or redemption and are callable only at the option of the company. The interest rate on the securities (which may be deferred at the company's option) is 11.8 per cent per annum.

The bonds have a step up provision for interest rate if the securities aren't called after 10 years.

These securities rank senior only to the share capital of the company. This provides equity characteristics to the bonds and makes them "hybrid" securities.

"The issuance of these perpetual hybrid securities is an important step in the overall financing strategy and capital structure management of the Tata Steel Group.

As Tata Steel continues to develop and execute its significant and earnings-accretive growth plans, this innovative long-term funding with equity features but without the associated economic dilution helps to diversify our financing option," said Kaushik Chatterjee, chief financial officer of the Tata Steel Group.

Tata Steel had, in November, announced a Rs7,000-crore fundraising plan, besides the $5.6 billion of loans it obtained on 29 September 2010. Tata Steel also raised Rs3,480 crore through share sale in January to partly repay a debt used to buy the Corus Group for $12.9 billion in 2007.

The bond sale will help Tata Steel refinance its existing debt, besides financing its expansion plans.

Tata Steel is expanding the capacity of its Jamshedpur plant to 10 million tonnes a year from 6.8 tonnes. The company also plans to build two more factories in India.

Besides its India facilities, Tata Steel has plants in Singapore, Thailand, the UK, South Africa and the Netherlands.

Spain public debt at 11-year high: central bank

Fri, Mar18 2011

Spain's public sector debt hit an 11-year high in the fourth quarter of 60.1 percent of gross domestic product, central bank figures showed Friday.

The public debt rose to 638.77 billion euros during the period, up from 611.89 billion euros or 57.9 percent of GDP in the third quarter.

The figure was slightly better than the government's forecast of 62.8 percent of GDP but it was still the highest level since 1999, when it reached 62.3 percent.

The public debt includes debt from the central government, the social security system and regional and local administrations, and is a key measure of the financial health of a country.

As an European Union member, Spain is required to keep its public debt below 60 percent of GDP.

Thousands of foreigners flee from Tokyo

Fri Mar18 2011 14:25:25

BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Airlines in Tokyo are scrambling to fly thousands of passengers out of the Japanese capital as fears about the country's nuclear crisis mount and several countries urge their citizens to leave.

Thousands of foreigners flock to Tokyo's Narita international airport as fears over Japan's nuclear crisis are mounting.

An increasing number of governments are urging their citizens to leave the earthquake and tsunami-devastated country.

Japan is taking desperate measures to contain the nuclear leak at the Fukushima power plant, but many travelers are worried about radiation levels.

Barbara Turoff, retired American, said, "I was going to go back anyway, just for a vacation, but I'm leaving earlier because I'm concerned because I really don't know the situation about the radiation. It keeps changing."

Other evacuees say the threat of radiation is scarier than the earthquake itself.

Thibault Brex, French evacuee, said, "If there was a radioactive cloud we just wouldn't know if it would come into our town. And with that you don't feel or hear anything, so you can't do anything and that's something we absolutely can't control no matter what people say. I was more worried about the radiation than about the earthquake. "

Scores of flights to Japan were halted or rerouted this week on fears of radiation leaks from the stricken nuclear plant -- and private jet companies say they've been inundated with requests to help evacuate people.

Some countries have begun testing their citizens returning from Japan for signs of radiation exposure. (source:

RPT-Sundance: Big finds in Cameroon iron ore project

Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:16pm GMT

YAOUNDE, March 17, (Reuters) - Australian mining firm Sundance Resources (SDL.AX: Quote) said on Thursday recent finds at its Mbalam iron ore project in Cameroon had more than doubled the amount of indicated resources in the area.

Indicated resources give the West Africa-focused miner, confidence in the potential of iron ore to be mined in the area.

Sundance said indicated high-grade hematite had more than doubled to 417.7 metric tonnes, following a large drilling programme in the past 12 months, compared with 169 MT previously reported.

News of the find pushed Sundance shares up 9.3 percent on the day.

"This resource estimate further strengthens our confidence of the viability of this project. We are now approaching half a billion tonnes of high quality iron resources and 85 per cent of that is now indicated," Sundance Chief Executive Giulio Casello said in a statement.

"We have a globally significant project capable of producing 35 million tonnes per annum of high-quality iron ore for at least 25 years," he said.

Casello said the first phase of the project consists of a planned railway and deep water port. The company last year delayed the start-up of production to 2013.

The company said in February the estimated $3.4 billion cost of the project was increasing.
(Reporting by Tansa Musa, Writing by Bate Felix, editing by Jane Baird, Reuters)

Rio Tinto ups holding in $3.9 billion takeover target Riversdale

Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:19pm GMT

SYDNEY, March 18 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto has received acceptances for 33.04 percent of shares in its $3.9 billion takeover target Riversdale , the global miner said on Friday, after raising its offer for the Mozambique-focused coal miner last week.

The offer is conditional on Rio Tinto reaching 50.1 percent control by March 23.
(Created by Ed Davies, Reuters)

Iron Ore-Prices rise for first time in a month as buyers return

Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:34am GMT

* Falling ore stockpiles spur Chinese buying
* Forward swaps extend gains
By Manolo Serapio Jr

SINGAPORE, March 18 (Reuters) - Spot iron ore prices rose for the first time in a month and offers remained firm on Friday as Chinese steel mills returned to the market to replenish
dwindling stockpiles.

Prices for the steelmaking raw material had fallen 15 percent since hitting record highs near $200 a tonne in mid-February as rising raw material cost and slow steel demand turned off top buyer China.

But some Chinese mills are looking at increasing steel exports to the region as production at quake-hit Japan could slow and domestic demand may spike when reconstruction starts.
Japan was Asia's biggest steel exporter last year.

"We had always thought that the dearth of Chinese buying in recent weeks would not last - steel production rates continue to record new highs and iron ore stocks can only sustain production
for perhaps a month or two," Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note.

China's daily crude steel output rose 0.5 percent from January to a record high of 1.94 million tonnes in February.

Inventories of imported iron ore at major Chinese ports fell to 80.4 million tonnes last week after climbing above 81 million tonnes towards the end of February.

Iron ore indexes, based on spot transactions in China and which global miners use in determining quarterly contract prices, rose on Thursday, the first uptick since they touched record peaks in mid-February.

The Steel Index's 62 percent benchmark .IO62-CNI=SI rose 30 cents to $163.90 a tonne, including freight, and Platts' 62 percent index IODBZ00-PLT jumped $1.50 to $166.50.

Metal Bulletin's 62 percent gauge.IO62-CNO=MB edged up 60 cents to $163.49.

Those gains may be sustained on Friday as offers from sellers remained firm, with Indian 63.5 percent iron ore quoted at $170-$172 a tonne, according to Chinese consultancy Mysteel.

"Sentiment is improving and there are more inquiries," Mysteel said.

"Iron ore buyers have come back because a lot of Chinese steel mills are very, very low on iron ore inventory and they now need to buy to sustain themselves," said an iron ore trader
in Shanghai.

"But will they come buy and disappear again which would make the price slide further or will they stay for sometime which will help prices rebound? That is still an unanswered question."

Further gains in iron ore forward swap prices on Thursday suggested confidence is slowly returning to the market.

The Singapore Exchange-cleared April contract climbed 3 percent to $157.80 a tonne, May rose 2 percent to $154.80 and June gained 1.8 percent to $152.40.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Manash Goswami,sourced:Reuters)

Japan Feb crude steel output +5.7 pct yr/yr,March fall seen

Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:42am GMT

* February output up 5.7 pct yr/yr
* Output down 7.5 pct from Jan, when Sumitomo came back
* Analysts expect further output fall in March

TOKYO, March 18 (Reuters) - Japan's crude steel output rose 5.7 percent in February from a year earlier to 8.93 million tonnes, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Friday.

Output, which is not seasonally-adjusted, declined 7.5 percent from January.

January's strong month-to-month output increase was due to a production boost by Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd, Japan's No.3 steel mill, whose production was affected by troubles at its blast furnace in November and December.

Analysts expect Japan's crude steel output for March to drop further following the disruption to operations after the disastrous earthquake that hit eastern Japan on March 11.

Japan's big two Nippon Steel Corp and JFE Holdings Inc have resumed operations of blast furnaces idled after the quake since Sunday, but government-imposed power cuts are expected to sharply reduce their production in March.(Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Ed Lane,sourced Reuters)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monnet Ispat close to acquiring Indonesian coal mine

17 Mar, 2011, 11.57AM IST
By Gargi Pareek,ET

MUMBAI: Monnet Ispat is close to acquiring a coal mine in Sumatra, Indonesia. Acquisition of the coal mine may be completed by this week, sources close to the development confirmed. The announcement of the coal mine acquisition may come in early next week.

Coal from the Indonesian mine will be utilized for Monnet Ispat's merchant power plant of about 2000 MW. The company is already setting up a 1050 MW plant in Orissa for which the coal will be sourced from its domestic mines. The company forayed into merchant power business through its subsidiary Monnet Power.

As coal prices rise sharply and short supply of coal gets deeper in India , power and steel companies are scouting for coal assets abroad. Monnet Ispat has been planning a coal acquisition for a long time to keep a control on their coal costs in future.

In one of the recent interviews, Sandeep Jajodia Exec.VC and MD, Monnet Ispat said "The challenge will be for our next project as we are planning a project on imported coal. We will make sure that the coal comes out of our own mine, either from Indonesia or elsewhere in the world."

Israel warns nationals to leave Tokyo over radiation fears

Thu Mar17, 2011 23:24:12

Jerusalem, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Citing possible high radiation levels in clouds emanating from several shattered nuclear power plants in northern Japan, the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Thursday recommended that Israeli visitors leave Japan's capital city of Tokyo immediately due to leaks.

"Israelis are advised to leave Tokyo towards the south and even to consider departing from the country entirely," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement also advised Israeli nationals planning trips to the earthquake and tsunami-stricken country to put off their trip "until the situation becomes clear."

After the third explosion in the reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power, Japanese officials are warning locals to stay indoors, after measurements showed harmful elevated radiation levels around the plant.

As well, the United States and more than a dozen other countries have either called on their nationals to leave the area and Japan as well, or move as far southward as possible, citing the immensity of the combined disasters. Editor: Mu Xuequan

China Urges Full Disclosure on Japan Radiation Leaks

By Peter Simpson | Beijing

The Chinese government on Thursday urged its crisis-hit neighbor Japan to issue prompt and accurate information about radiation leaks from a nuclear power plant ravaged by an earthquake and tsunami.

Concerned by rumors circulating in China about nuclear fallout and radiation exposure, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu called on Tokyo to issue prompt and accurate details about stricken nuclear power plant ravaged by last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

She also issued a call to worried Chinese who are panic buying salt in a false belief it can guard against radiation sickness. Japan should release detailed and accurate information about the about radiation leaks as soon as it’s known, said Jiang. And she urged the public to stay calm, saying it was not necessary to panic.

The country's largest salt maker, China National Salt Industry Corporation, Thursday issued a statement warning panic-buying and hoarding is unnecessary.

The Ministry of Health is also telling the public that regular salt cannot prevent radiation.

But panic buying continues and price spikes are occurring.

Jiang also confirmed China will send 20,000 tons of gasoline and diesel fuel to Japan to aid it earthquake recovery.

Despite often prickly relations between China and Japan, the Japanese disasters have sparked an outpouring of sympathy in China.

Beijing earlier pledged $4.5 million worth of blankets, tents, emergency lighting and other humanitarian assistance, and has sent 15 rescuers to help search for survivors.(sourced:voanews)

Wescoal and contractor trade blame

Sutha Civils lays fraud charge against Wescoal, threatens to launch liquidation process.

Mar15,2011 07:16:15 AM
By Allan Seccombe, Business Day

IN THE matter of Wescoal versus its contractor, Sutha Civils, both parties are at opposite poles, with Sutha laying a complaint with the police against the JSE-listed coal producer’s subsidiary, Wescoal Mining, which denies any wrongdoing and blames the action on "malicious intent".

Sutha will today file a liquidation process in the South Gauteng High Court, said Sutha CEO Nico Swart, who says he will meet members of the Commercial Crimes Unit to flesh out his allegations and give documentary proof. Mr Swart is clear about the root of his allegation made against Wescoal and its Khanyisa colliery. "There is no coal," he said yesterday .

He said Sutha was contracted to do open-cast mining at Khanyisa and were given co-ordinates by the mine’s geologist. However, when the site was opened, the targeted coal was not there, he said.

"This is not my problem if there is no coal," he said. "The tonnages mined from the box cuts are not what they told investors.

"I have my documents, contracts and drawings showing where places were opened up, but there was no coal. I can show these to investors, the police. I can show the coal is not there."

Wescoal Holdings CEO Andre Boje dismissed the claim with unusual bluntness. "I categorically deny that claim. Furthermore, I’m not going to debate with these hooligans in the media. They are making unfounded and scary allegations."

Wescoal and its lawyers had yet to see the documentary proof Mr Swart claimed to have, Mr Boje said. "Among a number of unsubstantiated claims, Sutha has now accused Wescoal of overstating tonnages mined at Khanyisa. We categorically deny this. We are a company with integrity and ethical principles and in this case, a target of malicious intent."

Wescoal’s counterallegation is that Sutha was mining outside the area in some cases.

Wescoal shares fell to 91c yesterday before staging a recovery to end back at Friday’s price of 99c.

Wescoal told the market via a release on Sens that it had begun its first investigation into irregularities in the Sutha contract within five months of Sutha being hired to mine the west pit at Khanyisa.

"No meaningful explanations were forthcoming from Sutha and the situation was exacerbated, until December 2010 when Wescoal removed Sutha from the Khanysia property and operation in entirety," the Sens statement said.

Mr Swart said there may be a second party to the liquidation proceedings. Mr Boje said he was aware of no other claims against Wescoal.

Khanyisa is the first operating mine in the group and marked its shift from being a coal trading firm to an integrated producer. It is an open-cast mine near Kendal in Mp umalanga and has an estimated reserve of 2,7-million tons.

In April to September last year , Khanyisa produced 887000 tons of coal, of which 546000 tons was supplied to Eskom. Wescoal said that the mine should reach its stated target of 1,2-million tons of run-of-mine coal by the financial year-end on March 31, and it is forecast to have supplied Eskom with 900000 tons in the same period.

Coal of Africa debt restructure

CEO says company will not go back to the market to keep wheels rolling

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 06:53:32 AM
By Allan Seccombe, Business Day

COAL of Africa (CoAL) will announce details of a new debt structure in coming days ahead of a $20m debt repayment to JPMorgan on March 24, plus raise extra cash to give the company "headroom" for its other projects, CEO John Wallington said yesterday.

CoAL has seen its cash reserves dwindle to A23m ($22,6m) by the end of December last year from A$101m at the end of June last year and the group has put in strict cash control measures to rein in spending. Work on the new debt facilities are about 98% complete and are awaiting final signatures, Mr Wallington said.

"If it’s a rollover (of the $20m debt) or replacing it with another facility, one of them will happen. It’s in place. With that facility in place it will also soothe the unfortunate market fears that this company will have to go back to the market to keep the wheels rolling, which it won’t have to do," he said.

A combination of cost controls, revenue increases from rising coal prices, and the new debt facility will enable CoAL to continue "without any issues for the rest of the year", he said.

CoAL would consider an equity issue only as one of a number of fund-raising mechanisms to raise more than $500m to build its Makhado coking coal project in Limpopo, he said. The hurdles that need to be cleared first are securing mining rights and completing a definitive feasibility study after the testing of 4400 tons of coal at ArcelorMittal’s Vanderbijl park steel mill.

The new debt package will be more than $20m, Mr Wallington said. "We want to give ourselves the headroom to cater for bringing Vele back into production. That will need cash for two or three months until the coal revenues start flowing.

"We also need cash to continue exploration and complete the Makhado feasibility," he said.

CoAL has spent about R600m on Vele, a coking coal mine near the Mapungubwe national heritage site, but the mine was stopped in its tracks just months before commissioning. It received a compliance notice from the Department of Environmental Affairs in August last year.

CoAL had adhered to all the requirements in the notice as well as all legislative matters, Mr Wallington said. The mine could resume "imminently", he said, without being drawn on any more specific time line.

"There is a campaign for the government to have a clearer policy about mining and industrial development in areas that are considered environmentally sensitive. Vele has become a test case for that," he said.

CoAL needs to spend R80m more to complete the mine, which will produce up to a million tons a year of soft to medium-hard coking coal suitable for steel mills. It may produce only half that to start with because it has been unable to secure agreements with Transnet on rail allocation, he said.

France says Japan loses control of situation at nuclear power plant

2011-03-17 16:14:19

France's Energy and Industry Minister Eric Besson arrives to attend a hearing about Nuclear power at the National Assembly in Paris March 16, 2011.

France's government said on Wednesday that Japan was losing control of the situation at a tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant and urged its nationals in Tokyo to leave the country or
head to southern Japan.

(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Britain's unemployment rate climbs to 14-year high

Thu, Mar16, 2011 20:15:40

LONDON, March 16 (Xinhua)--The British unemployment rate increased to 8.0 percent for the first three months of this year, comparing with the previous three months to October, the highest level since 1996, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported Wednesday.

The report showed that the number of unemployed people in the UK increased by 27,000 over the previous three months to 2.53 million in the three months to January, the highest total since 1994.

The jobless rate for those aged from 16 to 24 increased by 0.8 percent to 20.6 percent, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992. The number of unemployed among those aged from 16 to 24 increased by 30,000 on the quarter to reach 974,000, also the highest figure since comparable records started in 1992.

The UK employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to January of 2011 was 70.5 percent, down by 0.1 percent over the previous quarter.

Iron Ore-Spot stabilises after falls as steel prices gain

Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:19am GMT

* Hopes of increased steel demand after Japan quake
* Indian 63.5 pct ore quoted at $170-$172/tonne
* Iron ore unlikely to hit $192 again this year-analyst
* China 2011 iron ore imports seen up 6 pct (Updates Shanghai rebar prices)
By Manolo Serapio Jr

SINGAPORE, March 17 (Reuters) - Spot iron ore prices stabilised on Thursday as steel prices in top producer China bounced back after recent losses, backed by hopes Beijing can export more overseas when quake-hit Japan begins reconstruction.

Japan overtook China as Asia's biggest steel exporter last year. But shipments from Tokyo may slow when the country focuses its output on rebuilding, opening a gap that may be filled by China as well as South Korea, Japan's biggest customer.

"Sentiment is slightly getting better because steel prices are moving up. We have more inquiries from the steel mills although purchases have not picked up yet," said an iron ore trader in Shanghai.

"Chinese mills are thinking they might have a good chance to sell their products and people are anticipating steel demand to pick up after the Japan disaster."

Power outages in Japan following last Friday's ferocious earthquake and tsunami will hit output of the world's second-largest producer and boost demand for China's steel products, a former official of the China Iron and Steel Association said on Thursday.

Spot steel prices have been slowly rising after dropping for two weeks, with steel billet in Tangshan up more than 80 yuan per tonne this week, said the Shanghai trader.

Shanghai steel rebar futures have rebounded 3.8 percent since hitting four-month lows on Monday. The most active October contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at 4,817 yuan a tonne on Thursday, down a modest 0.3 percent.

"Steel has pushed up in the last few days and these levels give the mills a very healthy margin," said an iron ore trader in Singapore.

Iron ore imports by top buyer China are forecast to rise 6 percent this year from nearly 619 million tonnes in 2010 on higher steel output, said an official from China's mining association.


Offers for Indian ore with 63.5 percent iron content were steady at $170-$172 a tonne on Thursday, including freight, traders and Chinese consultancy Mysteel said.

But some analysts say iron ore prices could drop further in the near term on weaker demand from Japanese mills before a rebound that may be capped.

"Japanese steel mills will reduce their purchases in the short term which poses further downside risk in the seaborne market," said Henry Liu, regional head of commodity research at Mirae Asset Securities in Hong Kong.

"We expect iron ore prices to rebound once steel demand recovers. However, it is unlikely to hit $192 per tonne again this year."

Spot iron ore prices had been falling since hitting a record high near $200 a tonne in mid-February as top buyer China slowed purchases after steel prices dropped.

Key iron ore indexes, which global miners use in setting quarterly contract rates, were steady to lower on Wednesday, while forward swaps jumped after a recent selloff.

Platts' 62 percent iron ore index IODBZ00-PLT was unchanged at $165 a tonne. That was previously the lowest for the index since Nov. 25.

Steel Index's 62 percent benchmark .IO62-CNI=SI slipped $1.10 to $163.60, a level not seen since Nov. 19. Metal Bulletin's 62 percent gauge .IO62-CNO=MB eased a dollar to $162.89, its weakest since Dec. 6.

Singapore Exchange-cleared forward swap prices rebounded although they remained at steep discount to spot prices. The April contract rose more than 4 percent to $153.33 a tonne and May climbed 3.6 percent to $151.58. (Additional reporting by Ruby Lian in Shanghai Editing by Ed Lane,sourced:Reuters)

Asia Steel-Spot prices steady, eyeing Japan quake

Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:29am GMT

* Steelmakers and traders eyeing Japan quake
* Steel demand likely to take longer time to recover
By Ruby Lian and David Stanway

SHANGHAI, March 17 (Reuters) - Spot steel prices in China remained steady this week, with traders still assessing the impact of the Japanese earthquake on the steel market, as well as a move by top steel mills to keep prices for April unchanged.

Rebar, mostly used in the construction sector, rebounded modestly to 4,580-4,590 yuan ($697-698) per tonne on Thursday, down 10 yuan from last Thursday after slipping nearly 2 percent at the beginning of the week, industry consultancy Mysteel said.

The catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan have further weighed on the global steel market, adding to concern about weak demand brought about by tighter credit and lower iron ore prices.

"Most market players are still assessing the aftermath of Japan's earthquake, while steel mills are watching the crisis closely and are hesitant to make offers, although prices have bounced back slightly," said Bill Chen, a senior trader with Hong Kong-based Smart Timing Steel Ltd.

Key Japanese steelmakers have halted operations at some of their facilities since Monday because of power outages brought about by the quake.

Luo Bingsheng, former vice-chairman of the China Iron & Steel Association and now an advisor, said at an industry conference on Thursday that Japan's post-quake reconstruction would eventually lift global steel prices and benefit Chinese steel exports.

His speech was made available on the organiser's website (

The most active rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange recovered this week to 4,817 yuan per tonne, up 2.9 percent from last Thursday.


Two of China's biggest steelmakers, Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd and Wuhan Iron & Steel Co Ltd said this week that they would keep their main product prices stable for April, reflecting their concern about tepid demand and high stockpiles.

Demand is expected to pick up in the second quarter as end users normally return to the market to restock, but government moves to further tighten liquidity are likely to curb the recovery.

"We believe steel prices will stay at a low level for a month or two -- a rebound is unlikely because of strong supply and lukewarm demand," said Henry Liu, a commodities analyst with Mirae Asset in Hong Kong.

CISA's Luo also said the inventories of 78 medium-sized and large steel mills surged 20 percent over the first two months of the year, and some steel mills would likely suffer losses.

Inventory building by end users was unlikely to continue, and even if steel prices rebounded they were not expected to return to their February high, Liu said.

In its monthly market report published on Thursday, CISA said stockpiles remained high going into March, and that prices would be put under further pressure as a result of still excessive output levels and increases in raw material supplies. $1=6.571 yuan) (Editing by Chris Lewis, Reuters)

IT raids offices of JSW Steel, JSW Energy

Thu, Mar17, 2011

Investigators from the income tax (IT) department in Mumbai yesterday conducted searches at the offices of JSW Steel Ltd and JSW Energy Ltd for alleged evasion of income tax.

According to B Gaur, director general, IT investigation, Mumbai, there was a search going on but they could not divulge details. He added that the search operation was expected to continue till evening.

The searches started early in the morning at the Mumbai and
Rajasthan offices of JSW Group.

The companies, according to an official who requested anonymity said the companies had allegedly adjusted accounts to reduce tax liability.

According to JSW group spokesperson Sharmila Banerjee, who confirmed the raid at the company's Lower Parel office in Mumbai, the raids were a routine survey.

''It is part of the usual survey, and apart from that, there are no more details we have,'' she said.(By domain-b)

India's Tata Steel bond to have step-up option - source

Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:40am GMT

MUMBAI, March 17 (Reuters) - Indian steelmaker Tata Steel's planned 15 billion rupees ($332 million) perpetual bond issue will have a step up option of 300 basis points after the 10th year, a source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters.

The Tier-I bonds will carry a coupon of 11.8 percent payable semi-annually.

The perpetual bond issue is likely to be launched as early as this week and ICICI Bank would subscribe to the entire issue, according to IFR a Reuters service.

The bonds carry a AA rating by CARE. ($1 = 45.2 rupees) (Reporting by Neha D'silva and Archana Narayanan; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan,sourced Reuters)

Satellite Photos: Japan before & after the Earthquake, Tsunami

Satellite Photos: Japan before & after the Earthquake, Tsunami

By Yahoo News

NALCO cuts India aluminium prices by 2,500 rupees/T-source

Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:07am GMT

BHUBANESWAR, India, March 17 (Reuters) - Indian metal producer National Aluminium Co Ltd (NALCO) has cut aluminium prices by 2,500 rupees ($55.2) per tonne in the domestic market, a senior company official said on Thursday.

"The revision was done to match with the falling LME (London Metal Exchange) prices," the official, who did not wish to be named due to company policy, told Reuters.

He said the basic price of standard aluminium ingots has been cut to 140,200 rupees a tonne and that of standard aluminium sow ingots to 140,150 rupees per tonne.

The new prices for all aluminium products, which were effective from Wednesday, will remain valid till March 31.

LME aluminium traded almost steady at $2,480 per tonne on Thrusday, after hitting a near 1-1/2 month low of $2,452 in the previous session, a level last seen on Jan. 28. ($1=45.3 Indian Rupees) (Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan,sourced:Thomson Reuters)