The “dirty” commodity might be unpopular with some, but thermal coal is proving to be good business. Demand for the fuel was stoked to a record high of more than 8.5-billion tons last year, according to the International Energy Agency. It expects coal demand to remain robust until 2026, followed by a slow decline, partly driven by energy policy and subdued growth in China.

Ever the short-termists, shareholders want coal miners to maximise profits now. Tribeca Investment Partners, an Australian investor, wrote to Glencore this month asking it to reconsider the planned spinning out of its thermal coal mines via Teck Resources’ Elk Valley Resources, which the giant mining conglomerate bought last year...

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