Adani to fully finance controversial Oz Carmichael mine

The move follows last month's announcement by the conglomerate that it was scaling back the size and scope of the project. The project had reportedly not found good financial backers
The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. Credit: Getty Images
The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. Credit: Getty Images

Ahmedabad-based energy firm, Adani Enterprises Ltd announced on November 28 that it would fully finance the controversial Carmichael mine project in the Australian state of Queensland.

"Adani Mining's Carmichael mine and rail project will be 100 per cent financed through the Adani Group's resources,” said Adani Mining Chief Executive Officer Lucas Dow in the town of Mackay, Queensland.

Dow’s announcement comes after Adani last month said it was scaling back the size and scope of the project—from a 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) $16.5 billion mega-mine to a more manageable 10 to 15 million mtpa costing around $2 billion.

“We will now begin developing a smaller open cut mine comparable to many other Queensland coal mines and will ramp up production over time to 27.5mtpa. Preparatory works at the mine site are imminent,” Dow informed further.

Australian media also reported Thursday that the Queensland government, in a significant move, had decided not to use public funds to finance the altered project.

“This appears to be a very different proposal to previous announcements that have been made in relation to this project. In addition to the change in scope, this announcement involves a rail corridor that will require, among other things, agreements with existing users and the operator. No taxpayer money will go towards this project,” a Queensland government spokesman said.

The Adani Group had entered Australia in 2010, with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.

Since then, it has battled opposition to any expansion of the Abbot Point port, which critics say, would cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The reef is home to many threatened species like the snubfin dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin and turtles.

Environmentalists had also warned that if the project went ahead, local endemic wild species like the Yakka Skink, the Ornamental Snake and the Black-Throated Finch, which call the mine area home, could be extirpated.

In mid-2017, Down To Earth had interviewed Australian business leader Geoff Cousins, marine conservationist Imogen Zethoven, reef tourism operator Lindsay Simpson and a Queensland farmer, Bruce Currie, who had visited India to voice their protest.

"We will continue to strongly oppose Adani. They are self-funding because they haven’t been able to raise a single dollar of bank finance. They don’t have approval to proceed. Their statements that they do are untrue," Cousins told Down To Earth on Friday in response to an email query on the issue.

Imogen Zethoven, of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) also said the fight was by no means over. 

"AMCS will continue to campaign against Adani’s coal mine and rail project until it is dead. Adani has scaled back the mine to 10 mtpa but plans to scale up to 27 mtpa. Any opening up of the Galilee Basin to coal mining would be a catastrophe for the climate and for the Great Barrier Reef. The IPCC report made it very clear that unless we can hold global temperature rise to 1.5C, we will lose the world’s coral reefs," she told Down To Earth.

She added: "The Great Barrier Reef has not recovered from the two severe bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. That will take at least 15 years and the fear is that we will have another severe bleaching event earlier than that. If we are to protect what remains of the Great Barrier Reef, we must not open up any new coal mines." 

On Thursday, media reports quoted Kelly O'Shanassy, CEO of Australia’s national environmental organisation, The Australian Conservation Foundation calling for the fight to go on till Adani was stopped altogether.

"This financing announcement means ignorance, denial or avoidance are no longer viable. The only responsible response is to stop Adani and keep Galilee Basin coal in the ground. The Stop Adani movement will fight this proposed mine every step of the way. There is too much at stake,” O'Shanassy said.

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