Last hope to de­rail Adani

Ac­tivists fight on as Indian coal gi­ant com­mits

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Sarah Elks

AC­TIVISTS will ramp up the anti-Adani cam­paign against a pos­si­ble fed­eral gov­ern­ment loan of up to $1 bil­lion to the Indian con­glom­er­ate, af­ter the com­pany gave the green light to its $16.5bn Galilee Basin coalmine.

Ac­tivists will bom­bard fed­eral MPs with phone calls, in­ter­na­tional banks will be pres­sured to pre-emp­tively rule out fund­ing Adani, and a con­sti­tu­tional le­gal chal­lenge is be­ing con­sid­ered should the gov­ern­ment sign off on the North­ern Aus­tralia In­fra­struc­ture Fa­cil­ity con­ces­sional loan.

Af­ter seven years of state and fed­eral as­sess­ments and le­gal chal­lenges by con­ser­va­tion groups, Adani, on Tues­day, an­nounced its board had made a fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion on its con­tro­ver­sial Carmichael coalmine pro­ject, al­low­ing $70 mil­lion in pre­con­struc­tion work, such as land­clear­ing and road-build­ing, to be­gin in Septem­ber.

But the com­pany still needs to se­cure fi­nance from banks for the pro­ject be­fore it can reach the all-im­por­tant “fi­nan­cial close” for the cen­tral Queens­land pro­ject.

Adani’s de­ci­sion comes as the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s hand-picked NAIF board con­sid­ers the po­ten­tial loan to help fund a rail link be­tween the pro­posed megamine and the Adani-owned Ab­bot Point port.

The Carmichael mine is the big­gest pro­posed coalmine in Aus­tralia and, at its peak, is fore­cast to pro­duce 60 mil­lion tonnes a year to fuel Adani’s coal-fired power sta­tions in In­dia.

Bil­lion­aire Adani chair­man Gau­tam Adani said he would stare down ac­tivist op­po­si­tion to the “largest sin­gle in­vest­ment by an Indian cor­po­ra­tion in Aus­tralia”.

“We have been chal­lenged by ac­tivists in the courts, in in­ner-city streets, and even out­side banks that have not even been ap­proached to fi­nance the pro­ject,” Mr Adani said. “We are still fac­ing ac­tivists. But we are com­mit­ted to this pro­ject.”

Kelly O’Shanassy, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion — one of 20 green groups in the Stop Adani Alliance — said the ACF was plan­ning to ramp up the cam­paign to dis­cour­age the NAIF loan.

“We are go­ing to ramp this up and get more MPs speak­ing up about what their con­stituents want and look at the le­gal op­tions avail­able to us,” Ms O’Shanassy said. “The Prime Min­is­ter needs to un­der­stand that this is hap­pen­ing un­der his lead­er­ship. There’s a lot of fo­cus on Don­ald Trump pulling out of Paris but if the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment ap­proves (the NAIF) loan, it’s a greater act of cli­mate reck­less­ness”. The ACF is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a pos­si­ble con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenge.

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