Prof Palmer bids for Australian coal port expansionPublished by MAC on 2014-05-11
Source: The Australian (2014-05-06)
India's Adani gets in on the act
Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer is not your typical bluff and blunt-edged bludger.
He's a professor and articulate politician who formed a new political party in 2013, with policies on asylum seekers and climate change that make those of Britain's UK Independence Party look positively cosy in comparison (see: http://moneytometal.org/index.php/Clive_Palmer).
But Palmer shouldn't be merely scoffed at. In April, his opposition to Australian government proposals to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions threatened to spark what some have called "a constitutional crisis".
Now he's lobbying the Queensland government for permission to take over Abbot Point, a port terminal on the Queensland coast.
It would be part of a massive expansion plan by Palmer, including new coal mines and a 453km coal transport railway line, and would involve the dredging and dumping of wastes within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Just after Palmer made his bid for the port, the Queensland government approved another huge coal mine and rail project which would also use Abbot Point.
The proponent of this US$15 billion scheme is the Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises. It aims to ship 60 million tonnes a year of the mine's thermal coal back home.
For background on Adani, see: http://moneytometal.org/index.php/Adani_Enterprises
For news of another fiercely-opposed Australian port proposal, see: Carrying coals to Newcastle: a port in a storm
Palmer bids for coal port expansion
6 May 2014
Maverick federal MP Clive Palmer has sought permission from the Queensland government to take over one of Australia's most controversial and environmentally sensitive port developments.
Waratah Coal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr Palmer's Mineralogy Pty Ltd, wants to acquire the $3 billion T2 expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal surrendered by BHP in November.
Despite major environmental concerns over the dumping of toxic waste from Mr Palmer's nickel refinery near Townsville, Waratah Coal has asked the Queensland government for "preferred developer" status for Terminal 2.
The T2 development forms part of a proposed $9bn expansion of Abbot Point that has become one of Australia's most controversial projects because of the need to dredge and dump spoils within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have given approval for three million cubic metres of dredging, subject to strict conditions.
Environment groups have mounted a strong campaign against the Abbot Point expansion in part because it will allow development of a massive new coal province in the Galilee Basin.
Waratah Coal has already proposed an $8.4bn coalmine and infrastructure project in the Galilee Basin, including a large-scale thermal coalmine near Alpha, west of Emerald. The complex will include four underground mines, two surface mines and coal-handling and processing facilities. The mine will be linked to a new coal terminal at Abbot Point near Bowen by a new 453km standard gauge, heavy-haul railway line.
A spokesman for Waratah Coal confirmed the company had applied to the Queensland government to take over the T2 development but had yet to receive a response. Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Jeff Seeney said "a number of entities" had expressed interest in developing T2.
"The Queensland government is still considering its position with respect to the future development of the port," Mr Seeney said.
Waratah said there was "an urgent need for significant export capacity increases at Abbot Point, in order to enable the realisation of the benefits of coalmining to all stakeholders including government". It said the proposed T2 terminal project would provide the required port and upstream infrastructure to facilitate development of some of the world's richest coal deposits.
The T2 development would provide an "end-to-end" solution for the Galilee Basin supply chain in conjunction with the already approved Waratah Coal mine and heavy haul rail line, the company said. The project would provide increased certainty and reduced costs for other currently marginal projects in the Galilee Basin, it said
Mr Palmer quit as a member of the Liberal National Party in 2012 amid claims by the Newman government that he was seeking preferential treatment as a major donor. Waratah Coal and several rival groups had been vying to be the government's preferred tenderer for the multi-billion-dollar mine, rail and port development.
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation said it was not aware of Waratah's T2 application. However, a spokeswoman said the expansion could be undertaken under existing environmental approvals for dredging and dumping of dredge spoils if undertaken within five years.
BHP Billiton formally withdrew from the T2 development in November as part of a major rationalisation of its development portfolio. BHP Billiton said the terminal project would provide 500 jobs.
Could Clive Palmer spark a constitutional crisis?
29 April 2014
The Palmer United Party has threatened to block the Abbott government's Direct Action climate policy in the Senate. Last week, there was even speculation about it sparking a constitutional crisis.
But could Clive Palmer, through his bloc of three Palmer United Party (PUP) senators and an ally from the Motoring Enthusiast Party, make good on the threat?
Is there any chance of a repeat of the 1975 constitutional crisis that brought down the Whitlam government? And what could the government do to get around what is shaping up to be an antagonistic Senate?
Minor parties set to have their say
Last Thursday, Environment Minister Greg Hunt released a new policy white paper, spelling out in more detail how the new A$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund will work.
The six Western Australia re-election spots are expected to be filled by three Liberals, and one each from Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party.
Earlier in the week, Palmer had declared that the "hopeless" policy was "dead" without his party's support. Hunt initially responded by saying:
"The funds will be part of the budget papers, and I doubt that the budget will be blocked unless we're going to be forced into a constitutional issue".
That prompted an angry response from Palmer, who accused Hunt of "blackmail".
Australia gives green light to new $15bn coal mine despite Barrier Reef qualms
8 May 2014
The Australian state of Queensland approved Thursday one of the world's largest coal mines, dismissing the United Nations and scientists concerns over damaging effects of an associated port to the Great Barrier Reef.
The US$15bn (A$16.5bn) Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, in the untapped Galilee Basin, is being developed by Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate with interests spanning mining, energy and logistics.
Designed to eventually produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year, the mine has been the focus of opposition by green groups fighting new coal mines and the rail and ports needed to ship the coal.
Although subject to the Federal Government final approval, the coal mine - potentially Australia's largest - is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue to a state that is struggling to cut its US$75 billion debt pile.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney told ABC Net the project has the potential to create up to 2,500 construction and 3,900 operational jobs.
"The construction of the mine and rail components is expected to generate in excess of $500 million annually in direct and indirect benefits to Queensland's economy," he was quoted as saying.
"We welcome the decision of the Queensland Government and this allows us to move to the next stage of the project, ensuring that local and regional communities continue to be involved in the development of our projects and share the economic benefits," Adani Group Chairman, Gautam Adani said in a statement.
The port Adani plans to use, Abbot Point, has been the centre of heated debate, as conservationists opposed a proposed expansion on the ground the project would dredge up 3 million cubic metres of sand and then dump it near the Great Barrier Reef.
Opposition to the port expansion and the proposed Galilee basin coal mines has grown in recent weeks. First UNESCO warned it might place the Great Barrier Reef on its endangered list as a result of the port expansion.
And last week US ice cream company Ben & Jerry's launched a Save the Reef campaign that prompted authorities to call a boycott from Australian consumers, as they claim it is "propaganda" that has damaged the reputation of the reef, jeopardizing jobs and tourism dollars.