MAC: Mines and Communities

Is Adani's Ozzie venture on the rocks?

Published by MAC on 2015-01-21
Source: Mining.com, Reuters (2015-01-15)

Potentially Australia's largest new mine, the Carmichael coal venture has become an "elephant in the room".

As an environmental group now mounts a legal challenge to the project, its economics also appear distinctly dodgy.

Earlier article: Australia: Gambling taxpayer's money on coal

Adani's $15bn coal mine in Australia facing fresh legal challenges

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

15 January 2015

Carmichael has been the focus of opposition by organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects in the environmentally sensitive area.

Indian mining giant Adani, already facing judicial reviews and legal challenges aimed at either stopping or delaying its $15bn (A$16.5bn) Carmichael Coal mine and rail project in Queensland's Galilee Basin, has been served again.

Environmentalists from Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) have asked the federal court to overturn the environment minister, Greg Hunt’s approval of the mine complex, arguing he did not take into account the impact on the Great Barrier Reef of the greenhouse gases emitted when the coal is burned.

Environment ministers typically evaluate only the emissions from greenhouse gases produced during the mining process, not the emissions produced when the coal is burned. Adani, Reuters reports, was not required to consider emissions from the burning of the coal mined in its environmental impact statement.

The massive mine will be the largest in Queensland, which is Australia's biggest coal-producing state, exporting almost half the country's total last year.

The case, filed by the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) on behalf MCG, is the third lodged by environmental and community groups against the mine. It comes only a day after The Australian Labor Party announced it would end taxpayer support for the controversial mine.

“Subsidising damage to the reef with taxpayers' funds is not a strong choice; it's a reckless approach that will damage Queensland's most precious natural asset,” a party spokeswoman said, according to SkyNews.

But state government claims the project has the potential to create 6,400 new jobs: around 2,500 construction positions and 3,900 operational posts.

Minefield

Coal port projects and expansions have been a source of controversy in the last two years, with academics and environmental groups raising the issue of “irreparable damage” to the country’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

In 2012 UNESCO, the UN educational, scientific and cultural arm, sent an inspection team to the area, finding “a continuing decline in the quality of some parts” of the reef. However, the Queensland Resources Council was quick to snub the report.

The following year, more than 150 marine scientists from 33 institutions signed a letter warning Australian authorities of the mounting threats new coal ports and other industrial projects pose to the reef’s habitat.

And in May 2014, Deutsche Bank refused to fund Adani’s plans to expand the port after the UN rose fresh on the world’s heritage site.

Some 100 million tonnes of coal will pass along the railway every year.


Legal fight steps up against Adani's coal mine in Australia

By Matt Siegel

Reuters

15 January 2015

SYDNEY - An Australian environmental group launched a legal challenge against Adani Enterprises’(ADEL.NS) $7 billion Carmichael coal mine project in the Galilee Basin, renewing the focus on a key issue in a rancorous election campaign in Queensland state.

Conservative state Premier Campbell Newman has put development of the Galilee Basin at the heart of his bid for re-election, in a campaign that is being seen as a guide to the fortunes of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's federal government.

The court fight is the latest in a string of challenges to a project that the national and state governments want to go ahead, but which is opposed by green groups and tourist operators concerned about climate change and potential harm from shipping through the Great Barrier Reef.

Infrastructure conglomerate Adani, whose founder has close ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, last year signed a memorandum of understanding for a loan of up to $1 billion from the State Bank of India for the mine, rail and port project, which it aims to build by end-2017.

The Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) is calling for the mine's approval to be rendered invalid on the grounds that Environment Minister Greg Hunt failed to take into account the impact of carbon emissions from burning coal produced by the mine. All of the coal produced is expected to be exported to India and South Korea.

Adani said in a statement the move was not about the merits of the approval process, which led in a string of environmental conditions being imposed on the project, but was "a highly politicised action" aimed at ending the state's coal industry.

Newman called the snap poll this month amid fears his party's grip at the local level is being eroded by Abbott's toxic poll numbers after a first year in office hobbled by missteps and a souring economy.

He has promised to take a minority stake in the railway line needed to bring the coal to port, as well as to develop an onshore disposal site for dredge spoil in a bid to bring in jobs.

The state's opposition Labor Party has said it would not subsidise the project's rail line, and has challenged claims about the amount of revenue the mine would generate for the state.

Analysts and project finance experts believe Adani may have underestimated the challenge of raising funds for the project.

Much bigger coal rivals, such as BHP Billiton (BHP.AX), have shelved coal developments at a time when a third of Australia's coal output is making losses.

(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Richard Pullin)

 

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