June 11, 2020 Read More →

Pandemic sending South African coal industry to earlier grave

The South African:

Could South Africa’s coal export industry, one of the largest in the world, be about to take a severe hit from the coronavirus?

A short-term plunge in export demand was always on the cards, given the lockdowns in key coal-consuming markets such as India, Pakistan, Europe and South Korea. And, in the longer term, South Africa’s thermal coal export industry has for some time been facing the reality of permanent decline, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

But now there is speculation that the coal industry may, more quickly than anyone anticipated, become one of the casualties of a post-pandemic new world order.

What has a virus got to do with the consumption of coal? According to a report published this week by the BBC’s Chief Environment Correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, keeping much of the world’s population at home has led to an unprecedented fall in energy demand, including demand for electricity.

This has, in turn, revealed the underlying vulnerability of coal — the fuel that powered the creation of the modern world.

“Like a tide withdrawing, the crisis has exposed just how fragile the financial foundations of this dirtiest of all fossil fuels have become,” Rowlatt says. “Some industry observers are even saying that coal may never recover from the pandemic.” [Mike Simpson]

More: Could the pandemic hasten the demise of coal exports?

Posted in: IEEFA In the News

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