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The demand for coal is stronger than ever - World Coal Association

Coal News - Published on Tue, 06 Nov 2018

Image Source: Mining Global
Mining Global reported that earlier this year, one of the world’s leading mining companies announced that it was to end its association with an international coal lobby group, citing ‘material differences’ and a ‘narrow range of activities of benefit’. Given that this was BHP, the world’s largest exporter of coal for steel making, cutting its ties with the World Coal Association (WCA), one could be forgiven for thinking this would have a major impact on both the coal industry and on the WCA itself. Add to this news that a number of major companies including Rio Tinto and BHP have sold off most of their coal assets, what does this mean for coal? Are we going to see the end of coal as a major resource?

Mr Benjamin Sporton, Former Chief Executive of WCA, speaking to us earlier this year as his tenure comes to an end “We see coal as being a vital, strategic and economic resource for the world because today, cIose to 40% of the world’s electricity comes from coal. It's still a very important part of making steel and cement and other products as well. So, it's a critical strategic and economic resource, particularly in developing an emerging economy.” Sporton immediately addresses the selling of coal assets. “With these major companies selling their coal assets, don’t look at it from the perspective of ‘backing away’ from coal,” he says. “These companies sold these assets for huge prices. For an industry that some say is on its way out, I think that actually shows an industry that is incredibly strong.”

The WCA is the global network for the coal industry, striving to demonstrate and gain acceptance for the fundamental role coal can and will play in achieving a sustainable, lower carbon energy future. In a time where the eyes of the world are constantly looking at ways of reducing the carbon footprint, forcing some companies to move away from coal, the important role that the WCA plays is as crucial as ever before.

Sporton recognises that the coal industry is often dominated, and often overshadowed, by the conversation of climate change. In effect, this is what drives WCA. “It’s about obtaining those strategic benefits of coal while addressing the environmental challenges that come with it,” he says. “By looking at how technology can reduce the environmental impact, we want to end up in a place where we can use coal and don’t have the consequences that have traditionally come with it.”

Technology is the key driver in getting to that scenario and the WCA works extremely close in better understanding and implementing high efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal technologies and carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions.

The technology conversation surrounding coal has changed significantly over the last decade and Sporton notes this has impacted the way that WCA has adapted its key messaging. “Progress is being made on CCS,” he says. “Good progress too, but the technology story is only at the beginning and will continue to grow immensely over the coming years.”

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Tue, 06 Nov 2018
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