Monday, June 23, 2008
King Coal Returns, to Japan?
"But after decades of seemingly terminal decline, Japan's coal country is stirring again. With energy prices reaching record highs--oil settled above $135 a barrel on Thursday--Japan's high-cost mines are suddenly competitive again, and demand for their coal is booming. Production has jumped to its highest in nearly four decades, creating a sensation rarely felt in these mining communities. ... While Japan's coal industry remains tiny, its revival is an example of how higher commodity prices are driving a search for resources even in some of the world's most urbanized and developed nations. In recent months, South Korea has experienced calls to create a domestic coal industry in order to reduce dependence on imports. ... For example, in Bibai, the city's last two mines, produced just 34,961 tons of coal in 2005. This year, they expect to surpass 150,000 tons, the highest production since 1973, when the city's last underground mine was shutting down. ... But the industry's long decline has made it difficult to gear up. There are almost no geologists left in Japan specializing in coal, or recent surveys of the region. ... Japan's coal industry needs cheering up: nationwide, production is down from its peak in 1961 when 662 mines yielded 55 million tons of coal. Last year, eight mines produced about 1.4 million tons, according to [Hirofuni] Furukawa [of the Japan Coal Center] and Japan's economy ministry. ... Many residents [of Bibai] doubt a real renaissance is even possible", http://www.nytimes.com/, 22 May 2008.
Ah ye of little faith. See my 2 November 2007 and 19 Janaury, 4 February, 4 and 28 March 2008 posts. Connie Yu, are you listening?