Environmentalists Go Up Against India’s Well-Connected Adani Group Over Queensland Coal

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While India’s Adani Group has occasionally stirred up controversy, its proposal to mine coal close to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and rail-transport then ship it thousands of miles to India, has had Australian environmentalists and Queensland locals howling in protest. Some industry experts there have even expressed doubts about the project’s economic viability because of the recent drop in global coal prices.

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The Economic Times quoted Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia, for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), as saying: “It’s not surprising that minister Hunt is going along with Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott’s desire to facilitate foreign firms in their efforts to try to prop up Australia’s declining coal industry. Ironically, if this project proceeds, it will actually accelerate the longer-term destruction of Australia’s coal export industry by dramatically expanding the capital invested whilst at the same time driving coal prices down globally. Our analysis forecasts that this would drive down thermal coal export prices a further 10-20 percent, thereby squeezing coal sector profit margins which are already down to zero.”

The same news report also talked of how Greenpeace was another major opponent of the project. The Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, would be the biggest-ever in Australia. It would include six open cut pits and five underground mines, spread over 28,000 hectares. Just to give some perspective, the mine would be seven times the area of Sydney Harbor. Environmentalists, thus, question the impact of the dumping of three million cubic meters of sea-bed dredged up from inside the World Heritage Area into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, saying, at a minimum, it would be detrimental to the Reef, but could even destroy it completely.

An article in the Huffington Post by David Fogarty, Editor, Climate Change Specialist, includes a quote by Senator Larissa Waters, the Australian Greens environment spokesperson, as saying, history would look back on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government’s decision today “as an act of climate criminality.”

So, clearly, the stage is set for a showdown between the environmentalists on the one side, and the industrial/mining lobby and the Australian Government, on the other. Earlier in the week, for example, Australian model Robyn Lawley posted a nude photo of herself on social networking site Instagram to protest against the project. This, say some, only reflects the concerns raised by environmentalists. The 25-year-old Lawley alleged that Adani had a “dirty track record” and was responsible for ‘destroying protected mangrove areas in India. Adani, till the time of the writing of this report, had offered no response to this allegation.

Australian Environment Minister Hunt, on the other hand, tried to counter such apprehension by explaining in great detail how the project would boost the Australian economy. He explained that at full export capacity, the project is expected to contribute almost $930 million to the Mackay region’s gross regional product and $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy each year for the next 60 years. The mining project will generate an estimated 2,475 construction jobs and a further 3,920 jobs during the operations phase.

The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.

Comments (3)

  1. Gary Doggett says:

    This is not so much an ‘Indian perspective’ but one supplied by the anti-coal movement in Australia, funded by groups in the USA and Europe. First, the Carmichael Mine is more than 300 miles inland, which fails to put it anywhere near the coast, let alone the Great Barrier Reef 25 miles further out to sea. Second, Queensland started shipping coal ‘thousands of miles’ some 60 years ago. The destination was Japan where Queensland coal (for electricity production and steel-making) contributed to post-war Japan emerging as the second largest economy in the world in the 1990s. Today, Japan remains Queensland’s biggest coal customer followed by China, India, ROK, Taiwan, Singapore, Europe and Brazil. Japanese investment in the Queensland coal industry started in the 1960s and companies such as Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Idemitsu are as much a part of the mining scene here as their Australian, Korean, Chinese (and more lately) Indian counterparts. Tim Buckley quoted in this article works for an organisation set up by the Rockefeller Family Fund, which also sponsors the anti-coal movement – hardly an independent or informed commentator. There are numerous business forecasters (including the International Energy Agency), who are resting their reputations on burgeoning demand for coal in Asia for decades to come. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to suggest that port developments and maintenance have anything other than short term and localised impacts in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. If you believe nude models and slogans on t-shirts are the answer to India’s energy challenges, I wish you every success.

  2. Jeff Yoders says:

    Hey Gary, you should definitely read part three of this piece which goes into detail about Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s defense of the project. It cites many of the same statistics you mention. https://agmetalminer.com/2014/08/07/aussie-environment-minister-greg-hunt-says-adani-deal-will-provide-jobs-prosperity/

    1. Bob Morton says:

      AS the Conservation groups have already explained, Its not about Dredging – its about Coal and the EVIL ELECTRICITY it produces.

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