By Neeraj Nanda
Melbourne, 30 July: The recent environmental approval of the proposed controversial Carmichael Coal Mine and rail link in Queensland has drawn reactions on expected lines. The environment lobby is fuming while business circles have welcomed the go ahead to the world’s biggest Coal mine.
In a Adani Australia media statement from Brisbane, Adani Chairman Gautam Adani has said the approval of the mine and rail project “…is a step closer to delivering our multi-million dollar mine, rail and port development.”
“Adani’s commitment to nation-building in India goes hand-in-hand with its commitment to providing sustainable employment opportunities for local workers and suppliers, not just through our rail infrastructure , but also our long-term investments in ports and mining,” Mr. Adani said.
Greenpeace, has said, “Don’t assume this is the end of the story. The Carmichael mine cannot go ahead without the financial support of one the big four Australian banks. Greenpeace will make sure every Australian knows that any bank cutting a cheque for Carmichael is making possible a monster mine that will endanger our Reef and our climate.”
“Carmichael coal mine’s impacts will be felt for generations”, Ben Pearson, Australia-Pacific programme director for Greenpeace, has said, adding, the project was approved despite the fact that Adani Group had “a dirty track record (pdf) n India”, where it “has been investigated and fined for illegally building on villagers’ land and destroying protected mangrove areas.”
Pearson, whose reaction has been posted on the Greenpeace site, said he had “hoped” Greg Hunt, Environment Minister, “would stand up to the coal industry and reject the plea for environmental clearance. “Minister Hunt had the simple task of rejecting absurd proposals for the biggest coal mine ever proposed for Australia — the Carmichael mine — which requires a new coal export terminal and destructive dredging and dumping in our beloved Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. But for whatever reason, Hunt couldn’t do it”, he said.
“Hunt approved Carmichael mine against independent expert advice that the mine could dry up endangered springs and drain sections of the Great Artesian Basin. The outback mine, which is located in a drought-prone farming area, requires a whopping 12 billion litres of water every year (pdf)”, the Greenpeace activist said, adding, “With this decision, the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest”, he said.
Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia, for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has spent many years studying the economic viability of energy projects and companies, with a particular focus on the Galilee basin projects.
“It’s not surprising that Minister Hunt is going along with Premier Newman and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s desire to facilitate foreign firms in their efforts to try to prop up Australia’s declining coal industry,” Mr Buckley said.
“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.
“Global coal prices are already depressed due to excess supply. If the Carmichael project proceeds, it will potentially open up access to another nine mine proposals with a combined thermal coal capacity of up to 300 million tonnes per annum. Our analysis forecasts that this would drive down thermal coal export prices a further 10-20%, thereby squeezing coal sector profit margins which are already down to zero,” Mr Buckley said.
Meanwhile, in an Email statement, Ravi Bhatia President of the Australia India Business Council (Victoria) says, “…the project involving the largest coal mines in Australia and the related logistical and will transportation infrastructure is a major success for the Adani Group. This project will also contribute towards feeding massive thermal power projects in India, particularly in Mundra SEZ in Gujarat, thereby helping to alleviate power shortages in India.
Later, talking to SAT, Mr. Bhatia said, “there is always variation in commodity prices in the international market, Coal was high two years ago, now it is cheap.
“The net effort of low price in market is it makes it harder to get financing for the project. However, low prices are temporary phenomena. One knows to live with it,” he said.
While agreeing environment issues were important, Mr. Bhatia asked, “Can anyone can tell me of technologies that can help us achieve the objective of more energy at a special faster rate than Coal?
“If we wish to lift the standard of living in India and remove poverty we need more energy,” he said.
- SAT News Service