Dec. 7, 2022. News and opinion by Mathew Carr
A planned metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria, the first new dig for the fossil fuel in Britain for 30 years, will use “Gold Standard” or equivalent carbon credits and massive CO2 transport pipelines to back up its claim to be “net zero,” according to documents attached to the UK government’s approval.
A 419 page document on the website of UK government (for download below for your convenience) said steel production associated with Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS) “is invariably going to need to purchase offsets in order to claim that it will have a ‘net zero’ impact on the climate,” according to consultants Wood Mackenzie.
“The need to purchase offsets will be an ongoing ‘tax’ on steel production using this method. In addition, it is not easy to identify storage locations which are suitably close to UK steelworks and Port Talbot, in particular, has no access to a carbon transport and storage network, resulting in the need to ship carbon dioxide to the Northwest Carbon Cluster.”
CarrZee opinion: Offsetting is legitimate as long as it is done conservatively and there is an overall reduction GHG in the atmosphere. The climate does not care from where emissions come, or from where emission cuts come.
Other countries may care that Britain has used too much of the global carbon budget and so the U.K. may need to do a deal to use some other country’s share of the global carbon budget. This could be done via article 6.2 of the Paris climate deal.
Source: document, p15
Source: document, p7
Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other international non-government organisations to ensure projects that reduced carbon emissions featured the highest levels of environmental integrity and also contributed to sustainable development.
“The Secretary of State agrees that, given no evidence was provided to suggest that any other metallurgical coal mines in the world aspire to be net-zero, the proposed mine is likely to be much better placed to mitigate GHG emissions than from comparative mining operations around the world.”
Coal classification /quality
The Woodhouse Colliery will produce premium HVA coking coal with a number of characteristics which will make it very attractive to the market.
a. Low ash content: the ash content is expected to be under 5%, seaborne traded coals from the US are most commonly in the range of 7% to 8% and those from Australia are normally between 10.0% and 10.5%.
Therefore, the ash in the WCM coal will be much lower than it is in other imported coals. Steel mills pay a premium for lower ash coals.
b. Low phosphorus: the phosphorus content for WCM coal is expected to be very low at <0.005. Imported coals from Australia normally have phosphorus content at 0.05, or ten times the value expected in WCM’s product.
If high phosphorus levels make their way into the coke the steel produced becomes more brittle. Low phosphorus is an extremely favourable quality characteristic for a metallurgical coal.
c. High fluidity: the coal produced at WCM is expected to have a fluidity of 30,000 ddpm. This is the maximum number attainable from standard laboratory equipment used to test metallurgical coal properties.
Fluidity at 30,000 ddpm is one of the defining characteristics of a HVA coking coal and, globally, very few coals have fluidity at this high level. Having coals with high fluidity gives a coke maker the flexibility to include a wider range of other coals to use.
d. Reflectance over 1.0%: for a high-volatile coal, having reflectance over 1.0% is one of the most important features to be classified as a HVA coal. The reflectance of the WCM production is estimated to be 1.02%, placing it within the HVA category. Reflectance is a key indicator of the rank of a coking coal.