In 2012, we used 13.7 million metric t of hard coal at power stations in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Poland. A total of around 52 % originated from countries outside the OECD. The expectations of our stakeholders are increasing when it comes to transparency and ensuring acceptable conditions in the supply chain for hard coal. We were one of the co-founders involved in establishing the ‘Bettercoal’ initiative in February 2012 as we pursued the objective of meeting the challenge posed by these demands. Members of the initiative include European operators of coal-fired power stations and operators of coal mines and non-government organisations in an advisory role. The initiative has developed a Code of Practice being drawn up for coal mining.
An initial phase for public comment and consultation ran from September to December 2012. Round-table meetings for discussing the Code of Practice have been held in three of four key export countries for hard coal – Columbia, Russia and South Africa. A second comment phase on the Code of Conduct and the Guidelines was carried out in the first quarter of 2013. An Assessment Protocol was developed on the basis of the code covering the inspection of coal mines at the mining site. The coal mines being selected for assessment in the pilot phase are currently being identified. The pilot phase is scheduled to start in mid-2013.
In the Netherlands, Essent is involved in the ‘Dutch Coal Dialogue’. This is a multi-stakeholder initiative between the major Dutch coal users from the energy and steel sectors, three coal-mining companies, two trade unions, four non-government organisations and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. In August 2012, all the participating Dutch energy utilities submitted a report on their coal procurement, categorised by supplier country and the main coal mines. Three Columbian mines emerge as the most important sources of hard coal for the Netherlands, supplying around half the hard coal required in 2011, followed by two Russian mines accounting for 13% of imported coal.
As a next step, an independent auditing company was commissioned by the ‘Dutch Coal Dialogue’ at the beginning of 2013 to carry out the first inspections of mines using an Assessment Form developed in the course of 2012. Preparatory talks are currently ongoing. The results of the assessment and potential agreements on improvement measures are expected in the first half of 2013 and they will be shared with the ‘Bettercoal initiative’ to avoid duplication of effort and parallel structures.