Coal and Coronavirus

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of Global Energy Monitor's coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This page lists coal projects such as power plants, mines, and terminals whose development or sale has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020.[1]

Coal plants

List of delays

Table of Coal-fired Power Plant Construction Delayed by COVID-19 workforce or supply chain issues

Project Size (MW) Estimated Cost (Billion US$)
Bangko Tengah (SS-8) power station 1,200 1.9
Bengkulu power station 200 0.6
Cirebon power station 1,000 1.3
Dinginin power station 1,336 2.1
Duyên Hải-2 power station 1,600 2.6
Jawa-7 power station 2,000 3.2
Kalbar-1 power station 200 0.3
Kalselteng-1 power station 200 0.3
Nagan Raya power station 400 0.6
Payra power station 1,320 2.1
Sulbagut-1 power station 100 0.2
Sulbagut-3 power station 100 0.2
Sumsel-1 power station 600 1.0
Tanjung Jati B power station 2,000 3.2
Thar Block II power station 660 0.8
Total 13,116 20.4

Note: Capital outlay estimates based on US$1,200/kW in South Asia and US$1,600/kW in Southeast Asia.[2]


In February 2020, the India-based Business Standard reported that commercial commissioning of the 1,320 MW Payra power station in Bangladesh was experiencing delays due to the Coronavirus. According to the acting managing director of Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited: "We cannot do the post-test-run maintenance as some workers are stuck in China in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic."[3] However, according to New Age of Bangladesh, the main issue facing the commissioning of the plant is the lack of adequate transmission: "In the test run, the first unit of the plant could never reach its full generation capacity because of low capacity transmission line," according to Payra project director Shah Abdul Moula.[4]


As the worst effects of COVID-19 in China began to subside, new coal plant permitting in the country surged. From 1 to 18 of March 2020, more coal-fired capacity was permitted for construction in China (7,960 MW) than in all of 2019 (6,310 MW). The increase may signal a move by government officials to use new coal plants as a means to boost the country's domestic economy after the slowdown from COVID-19.

Coal-fired Power Plants Permitted for Construction in China in March 2020

Project Size (MW)
CPI Baiyinhua power station 1,320
Diantou power station 1,320
Fu County power station 2,000
Fugu Qingshuichuan power station 2,000
Yanghuopan power station 1,320
Total 7,960


Specific delays or cancellations of coal-fired plants had not been announced as of mid-March 2020. However the Indian government has announced that project developers will be allowed to invoke force majeure clauses and avoid penalties for delays that are the result of COVID-19.[5]

Additionally, restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus may cause a lack of spare parts from Chinese suppliers for coal plants and coal mines in India. PwC India estimates that about 30 per cent of the 62,000 MW of coal projects under construction in India rely on Chinese suppliers.[6][7]

On April 2, Singareni Collieries Company Limited laid off their underground miners in the state of Telangana, India, to protect miners against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Miriyala Raji Reddy, a union leader, about 2,000 miners were engaged in underground operations.[8]


In March 2020 several Independent Power Producers (IPP's) in Indonesia declared force majeure and announced a list of coal power projects whose development would be impacted or delayed by Coronavirus.[9] The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) said delays could potentially occur due to obstruction of supply and raw material for the plant components, and travel restrictions that would reduce the labor supply.[9]

Category One delays: IPP's declared force majeure and announced delays for these coal-fired plants: the 1,000-MW Cirebon power station, the 2 x 1,000-MW Jawa-7 power station, the 2 x 100-MW Bengkulu power station, the 2 x 200-MW Nagan Raya power station, the 2 x 300 MW Sumsel-1 power station, and the 2 x 600 MW Bangko Tengah (SS-8) power station.[9]

Category Two delays: IPP's declared that the following projects would also be affected and potentially delayed: the 2 x 1,000 MW Tanjung Jati B power station, the 2 x 100 MW Kalbar-1 power station, the 2 x 100 MW Kalbar-2 power station, the 2 x 100 MW Kalselteng-1 power station, the 2 x 50 MW Sulbagut-1 power station, and the 2 x 50 MW Sulbagut-3 power station.

On March 23, 2020, it was reported that residents of Gelanggang Merak Hamlet had asked the owners of the Nagan Raya-3 and Nagan Raya-4 plant to stop transporting materials to these plants' construction site as dust from trucks poses a risks to people who have contracted COVID-19.[10]

On March 24, 2020 it was reported that construction and labor negotiations were being delayed due to the COVID-19-related travel ban preventing employees of Guangdong Engineering from returning from China.[11]


In February 2020 it was reported that plans to bring in 120 workers from China to Pakistan to work on phase II of the Thar Block II power station and coal mine were being delayed, which would result in delays to the project timeline.[12] According to the Council on Foreign Relations, China’s COVID-19 response "all but halted the Belt and Road Initiative in its tracks" and "work has ceased along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor."[13]


In February 2020 GNPower announced that further construction of the 668-MW Dinginin power station in Central Luzon would be delayed because Chinese engineers who will be part of the plant’s testing and commissioning processes were subject to a COVID-related travel ban.[14] Unit 1 was scheduled to go online in June 2020 and Unit 2 in September 2020 but the Philippine Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (EPIMB) and Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed that Dinginin was no longer included in the country's expected additional power supply for summer 2020.[14] On March 18, 2020 GNPower announced a new target date of October 2020 for commissioning Unit 1. The company also announced that Unit 2 would be delayed as a result of COVID-19 related labor shortages.[15]


On March 6, 2020 it was reported that construction of the 2 x 600 MW Duyên Hải-2 power station would be impacted by COVID-19 and that its estimated completion date of 2021 might be delayed.[16]

Coal mines

United States

In March 2020, Foresight Energy, a St. Louis-based coal mining company and affiliate with Murray Energy Corporation, filed for bankruptcy citing in court papers "the global economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic."[17]

On March 12 2020, the United Mine Workers of America raised concerns about the "significant risk" coronavirus poses to coal miners, especially those with underlying health issues, like black lung disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that about ten percent of U.S. coal miners already suffer from black lung disease.[18]

In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all "non-life sustaining" businesses to close in response to the coronavirus on March 19. While oil and natural gas extraction were included in a list of businesses considered "life sustaining," coal mining was not.[19]

On March 30, five Virginia coal mines announced that they would be shutting down operations to stop the spread of coronavirus.[20] However, they plan to continue to fulfill weekly orders using the stockpiles they already have available. One of the mines, Buchanan, accounted for about 41% of Virginia’s overall coal tonnage last year and just less than a fifth of the state’s total number of coal mine workers.[21]

Meanwhile, Consol Energy's Bailey Mine in West Virginia was also shut down on March 30 after two workers tested positive for Covid-19. The shutdown is scheduled to last two weeks.[22]


In February 2020 the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) asked state-owned coal and oil and gas producers to develop plans and measures to response to impact of the acute respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.[23] On March 23, 2020 it was reported that the expansion of two mines owned by Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industry Group (TKV) would be delayed due to restrictions on workers and equipment entering Vietnam from China. The delayed expansions are at the Khe Cham II-IV mine and Nui Beo mine. Overall the Ministry of Industry and Trade estimated that coal production for the year would decline by 30%.[24]


With a 19-day quarantine in place starting March 24, 2020, coking coal and met coke exporters said this measure, as well as a curfew across the country, has decreased the pool of available workers at mines and ports and slowed exports. This is in spite of the fact that coal mining is exempted from the quarantine.[25]

Glencore stopped operations at the Prodeco coal mine and moved the mine to care & maintenance.[26] In a press release, Glencore wrote that, in addition to Covid-19, "growing community tensions and restrictions on logistics have made it very difficult to ensure the continued and safe operation of Prodeco (coal) and the security of its host communities." [27]

South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown to go into effect March 26, 2020. While essential businesses may remain open, Ramaphosa announced that “Companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces, underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations."[28] As such, many mines are preparing to be 'on pause' for three weeks, or more if the lockdown is extended. An article in Bloomberg predicted that "all but a few coal operations needed to fuel the country’s power stations are expected to be included" in the nationwide lockdown.[29]

Coal mines that will be on care and maintenance throughout the lockdown include the Uitkomst Colliery, an underground coal mine owned by MC Mining Ltd. But the company noted that once the lockdown is completed, they will be able to get production up and running again relatively quickly.[30] In the press release, the company added: "However, given the continued uncertainty around the outlook for control of the coronavirus in South Africa, 2020 production guidance is suspended until the company is in a better position to quantify the full impact of the lockdown."[31] In addition to Uitkomst Colliery, the Makhado, Vele and Greater Soutpansberg coal mining projects will also be scaled back during the three-week national shutdown. Neither Makhado nor Greater Soutpansberg are completed and fully functioning yet.[32] [33]

Menar, a private investment company focused on mineral resources and energy, also placed all of its mines on care and maintenance.[34] Its subsidiaries are included in this. These include Canyon Coal, a coal exploration and mining company, Zululand Anthracite Colliery, an anthracite mining and production company, and Kangra, a mining company.

Buffalo Coal, a South Africa-based coal producer, announced March 24, 2020 that it had begun developing care and maintenance protocols that complied with Ramaphosa's directive. [35]

Coal terminals


In March 2020 Brookfield Asset Management announced that it was delaying the listing for sale of its US$2 billion Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT) in Queensland, Australia, due to COVID-19. Brookfield specifically cited the volatility of financial markets and travel bans on bankers, financiers, and lawyers need to list and sell the terminal as reasons for the delay.[36]

Coal mining exploration


In an attempt to avoid spreading coronavirus to native populations, all mining exploration activities in the Northern Territory have been suspended in Australia.[37] Indigenous Australians own about 49% of the land in the Northern Territory.[38] In addition, all exploration permits to Aboriginal land trusts have been suspended until at least April 30.[37]

“We are asking everyone to put the needs of the most vulnerable fist by staying away from remote communities and have instructed our town-based staff to do the same,” said Joe Martin-Jard, the chief executive of the Central Land Council.[37]

South Africa

In late March 2020, the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, one of the world's largest coal terminals and the largest in Africa, halted operations due to South Africa's 21 day nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus.[39]

Resources and articles


  1. Jaime Gumbrecht and Jacqueline Howard, WHO declares novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, CNN, Mar. 11, 2020
  2. South Asia figure references India. SE Asia ($1,600) is midpoint interpolation between EU ($2,000) and India ($1,200)."World Energy Model Documentation 2019," Table 6, International Energy Agency
  3. "Coronavirus stalls Payra plant commissioning," Business Standard, Feb 5, 2020
  4. "Payra power plant set to become economic burden on Bangladesh," New Age, March 14, 2020
  5. Indian coal-fired power sector braces for coronavirus, Argus Media, Mar. 12, 2020
  6. "Indian coal-fired power sector braces for coronavirus". Argus Media. 2020-03-12. Retrieved 2020-03-19.
  7. "PSPCL shuts thermal plants as demand dips". Tribune India News Service. 2020-03-13. Retrieved 2020-03-19.
  8. Gali Nagaraia, COVID-19 Threat: Underground Operations at Singareni Coal Mines Come to a Halt, The Wire, April 2, 2020
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Jadwal operasional pembangkit terganggu wabah corona, ini tanggapan PLN, Kontan, Mar. 8, 2020
  10. Masyarakat minta Pemerintah Stop Aktivitas Pengangkutan Pembangunan PLTU 3-4 Nagan Raya, Aceh Portal, Mar. 23, 2020
  11. Tuntutan Pekerja PT. GPEC PLTU Sumsel 1 Dipenuhi, Gatra, Mar. 24, 2020
  12. "The shadow of the coronavirus on Pakistan," Eco-Business, Feb 4, 2020
  13. "What the COVID-19 Pandemic May Mean for China's Belt and Road Initiative," Council on Foreign Relations, March 17, 2020
  14. 14.0 14.1 COVID-19 delays comm’l operations of Dinginin power plant, Manila Bulletin, Feb. 24, 2020
  15. Bataan coal plant completion delayed, Philippine Star, Mar. 18, 2020
  16. Hiep Thanh Wind Power project: deadline well within reach, Energy Central, Mar. 6, 2020
  17. Alexander Gladstone, Coal Supplier Foresight Energy Files For Bankruptcy, Citing Coronavirus, Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2020.
  18. Will Wade, Black-Lung Coal Miners Facing Serious Threat from Virus Spread, Bloomberg, March 12, 2020
  19. Will Wade, Pennsylvania Coal Mines Must Shut Down, Governor Orders, Bloomberg, March 20, 2020
  20. SYDNEY LAKE, Va. coal mines closing due to COVID-19 concerns, Virginia Business, March 30, 2020
  21. TIM DODSON, "Virginia’s leading coal mine halts production amid COVID-19 pandemic", Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 1, 2020
  22. ANYA LITVAK, "One of Consol’s coal mines is shut down after employees test positive for COVID-19", The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 30, 2020
  23. State-owned coal, oil producers urged to response to COVID-19, Bao Anh Vietnam, Feb. 21, 2020
  24. Sản xuất, kinh doanh than gặp khó bởi Covid-19, Dautu, Mar. 23, 2020
  25. Colombia coking coal, met coke hit by virus fears, Argus Media, March 25, 2020
  26. Glencore Operating As Usual But Some Operations Wind Down, Morningstar, March 26, 2020
  27. Updates regarding COVID-19, Glencore website, March 26, 2020
  28. Simone Liedtke,South African miners preparing for three-week lockdown, Mining Weekly, March 24, 2020
  29. Felix Njini and Thomas Biesheuvel, South Africa’s Mining Industry Is About to Come to a Standstill, Bloomberg, March 23, 2020
  30. MC Mining Uitkomst Colliery Placed On Maintenance During Lockdown, Morningstar, March 26, 2020
  31. Lockdown in South Africa and Suspension of Coal Production, McMining Ltd website, March 26, 2020
  32. MAKHADO PROJECT, McMining Ltd website
  34. Menar places all mines on care and maintenance Mining Review Africa, March 26, 2020
  35. 21 day national lockdown to be implemented in the Republic of South Africa, Buffalo Coal website, March 24, 2020
  36. Paulina Duran and Scott Murdoch, Brookfield halts $2-billion sale of Australian coal port due to coronavirus: sources, Financial Post, Mar. 11, 2020
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 Salomae Haselgrove, NT exploration halted to protect communities from coronavirus, Australian Mining, Mar. 19, 2020
  38. ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION, 2016, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Oct. 31, 2017
  39. Anglo American sees lower 2020 S African thermal coal output on coronavirus, S&P Global, March 27, 2020.