When I was a young associate at a Chicago mega firm, I worked on a huge breach of contract case involving two massive utilities. As part of that case, I had to drive down to Southern Ilinois to tour a coal mine. I cannot even remember why it was necessary for me to do this, but I do remember my supervising attorney telling me it would take five hours and that I absolutely had to get there on time to avoid drawing the ire of a very punctual client.
So I left my apartment at 4:00 am and started driving. At maybe 6:00 a.m. (after having exceeded the speed limit by at least ten miles per hour so far) I saw a mileage sign indicating that if I were to go anything even near the speed limit the rest of the way, I would be seriously late. So I got my car up to triple digits where it stayed the rest of the way as I fretted about being late or getting detected by radar. I was not caught (those who have been to rural Ilinois can understand this) but I arrived about five minutes late to a client who very coldly noted this fact in front of a decent sized gathering.
We then went into the coal mine, which meant going down an open air elevator into total darkness; the only light coming from the flashlight on our helmets. The mine height was about five and a half feet (1.68 meters), which meant I had to walk hunched over. We were down there for about an hour and ready to come up when we were alerted that the elevator was not working. We all sat down and waited. Maybe an hour or two later, the elevator was fixed. I drove home, we ended up winning more than $300 million in the case, but I still have an aversion to coal.
Despite that aversion, the importance of the issue requires me to point out an excellent post at Managing the Dragon, entitled, “Price of Coal Triples: Spikes 34 percent in Wake of Weather Disaster in China.” This post nicely details how China’s increased demand for coal is impacting world coal prices and it explains why coal prices are rising and why even those of us who want nothing to do with coal should care about this.
I recommend it.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    For all of you who haven’t noticed, the prices of most commodities are rising, along with the finished goods into which they go. China’s importation of wheat has led to flour, hence bagel, prices rising in NY. Think I’m making this up? Ask major bakeries in NY. With 1.3 or, more likely, 1.4 billion humans in China, and rising foreign reserves and cash circulation, spurred on by equally rising demand for basics on a scale not seen before, inflation in China and an adjusted RMB won’t solve the USA’s woes. Chinese costs of everything from rice to iron pellets and oil are forcing factory costs to spiral. Chinese labor cannot remain low too much longer, despite an allegedly endless supply of workers. Try finding the really skilled workers your factory in China needs, and then tell me how easy it will be for you to keep your labor costs low for another ten years. Foreign buyers, however, want to have their cut-rate cake and eat it too. This situation is untenable, and we in the West have been stoking the fires which may spread a conflagration.
    Dan, coal will skyrocket. You’d have been richer had you pitched a tent in that mine for years and then argued adverse possession.