With only one clearance away, Adani’s controversial endeavour has left citizens down under divided.
- Adani’s coal mine project in Australia’s Carmichael basis has embroiled the country in a climate change-jobs creation debate.
- The controversial venture is only one step away from construction after Queensland approved its plan to manage endangered species.
- The Mining project was the flashpoint of the country’s recently concluded federal elections.
- The pro-coal Liberal Nationalist part retained power in the centre which is good for Adani’s aspirations, but spells demise for the aims of protesting citizens.
Queensland government approved Adani Enterprise’s management plan for endangered bird species at the Carmichael site for the coal mine. This leaves Adani’s controversial venture only one step away from construction.
So with only permit left concerns the groundwater management plan which has also raised concerns from the protesters, but as per reports, is expected to be given to Adani by June 13.
The Adani coal mine has become a flashpoint for the debate on climate change versus exploitation for profits.
The project faced difficulties right from obtaining funds for the project to liabilities of its accompanying rail project which is deemed bad for the environment including Australia’s go-to natural destination the Great Barrier Reef.
The heated topic has stretched and divided the country’s population with one half not led by political opposition inclined to stop further deterioration of the geography while the Liberal-National led coalition at the centre and its supporters push through with the prospects of job creation.
Why Citizens had to come out?
The climate change implications have discouraged banks and financial institutions from funding the new thermal coal project. Adding to it, diminishing global coal prices and viability put further doubts on the economic viability of the project.
Headed by Indian conglomerate with big footprint in global power landscape, Adani Power’s $4 billion Carmichael coal mine project has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Reports from Australia opine that Adani Power has an apparent knack for bending the law. Hanging in limbo for six years, the project is ridden by legal challenges and reports touting environmental impact. Citizens have been rallying against starting the mine, protesting against the political will.
The background of the project
The Carmichael mine, led by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, has been gradually moving from blueprint to reality for nearly a decade. The delay is due to legal actions from environmental groups and protests. Further Adani Power has found it tough to get past the regulatory process due to conflicting ideologies between the Labor-led government.
Adani executives claim the project will generate jobs for the region but the initial figures of 60 metric tonnes per year have now seemingly shrunk to mere 10 metric tonnes per year.
Both Labor Party and the Coalition had been wary of extending government support the projects. Adani faced backlash from investors and customers. Australia’s major banks declined to fund the project. The project plan itself has been downsized to almost sixth of its original plan.
The lack of trust in Adani
A number of environmental organizations in Australia have slammed Adani’s project and also the government’s push to get the mine started. Adani reportedly has a history of being caught not complying to regulations or breaching permits.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society voiced concerns about Adani for a second licence breach in two years. In particular, coal-contaminated water from Adani-managed port at Abbot Point flowed directly into the Australian Wetlands during a heavy rainfall, resulting in contaminating of the ground water.
Moreoever, Adani is being investigated by the Queensland government in another breach where it spilled over 800% of the permitted volume of coal-laden water onto the Great Barrier Reef putting the world heritage site at great risk.
On the second breach, Dr Lissa Schindler, Campaign Manager for the Australian Mine Conservation Society said:
“This second breach in only two years shows Adani has again failed to comply with its legal obligations to protect the environment. The Queensland government should move to prosecute them again.”
The Political Play
The on side of Australian citizens that are fuming on the Government’s support of the Adani project opine that although creating employment is important, it shouldn’t come on the cost of long-term harm to the environment.
The issue was the flashpoint in the general elections in Australia in May. Australia’s two major political parties – conservative Liberal-National and Labor Party – and their supporter were divided.
Subsequently, the elections gave a surprise win to the pro-coal incumbent coalition government. The victory would mount pressure on the Queensland government to expedite the approval of the project which aims to exploit one of the largest untouched reserves of fossil fuel in the world.
On the contrary, with Australia aiming to shift to renewables entirely in the coming times, leveraging the reserve just for exports doesn’t bode well with a large number of pro-climate progressives.
Questions around cost viability
In the era forward from the Paris Agreement which called on the world’s nations to check and positively reduce their carbon footprint, Australia’s insurers and regulatory authorities have been restricting backing or permitting bids for new mines.
Furthermore, coal prices have sunk in Australia from $120 a tonne to $70 in the last year, which has put further doubts on the economic viability of the project.
The firm’s recent analysis found out that the project’s cost which includes the rail link to connect it with the existing network will mean that it would need thermal coal prices at approximately $100/ton in order to break even.
Currently, the prices stand at a much less than what the mine needs. However, with broader benefits of having a mine in the Carmichael basin will be a boost for Adani’s ‘integrated mine-port-trading-power model’.
Adani’s project just a step from reality
The passionate opposition which made a tough stand on climate change one of its key focus agendas received underwhelming endorsement in the focus region in the mining communities of Queensland.
Adani has accused the Queensland-state Labour party government of putting unnecessary hurdles in the progress of the project for electoral gains. The state will see elections next year.
After the Liberal Nationalist victory, Adani’s Australia CEO Lucas Dow tweeted a video message which said:
“It’s now time for the Queensland government to hear that message.”
The national government behind Adani and having already approved the project, it is only the Labour-led state government and the protesting citizens are the only roadblocks.
Consequently, more focus on climate change than job creation, the Labor party has received setbacks in areas concentrated by the mining communities.
Moving forward, Adani’s project looks likely to see the day, even where its initial quantum is significantly diminished and a significant chunk of Australia’s citizens feel undone by their government.
- Adani is not trusted by environmentalists in Australia due to earlier history of permit breaches, which resulted in coal-contamination.
- The project is significantly scaled down to one-sixth of its size due to inability to find any lenders for the controversial mine.
- Adani is self-funding the project bringing the potential of produced coal down from 60 million tonnes to 10 million tonnes.
- Despite significant hurdles and fuming citizens, the national government-backed project is set to go through.