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Adani on front foot despite Carmichael critics

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Indian conglomerate Adani remains confident in its embattled Carmichael coal project, despite growing pessimism from the banking sector and continued criticism from environmental groups.

The National Australia Bank earlier this month became the latest financial institution to say it would not fund the Indian company’s planned $16bn coal mine and rail project for Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

NAB joined a growing list of banks to rule out support for the project, including Standard Chartered – the former chief financier for the project – as well as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Local Indigenous group the Wangan and Jagalingou Council, which is appealing against Carmichael in the courts, has urged Australia’s remaining ‘big four’ banks – Westpac and ANZ – to follow suit and say they won’t support the mine, either.

Despite this opposition, Adani remains positive.

Adani’s Australian chief executive, speaking with the Weekend Australian, said the company was determined to forge ahead after already spending nearly $3bn on the project.

“This is a viable project for our company: we are not here for charity, we are not here to lose money,” chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj was quoted to have said.

“It is critical for us to secure long-term [coal] supplies.

“We are a large infrastructure and energy conglomerate, so providing energy security to India is a very key strategy as part of our business goals.”

Janakaraj’s comments are in stark contrast to those made by sustainable energy expert Tim Buckley this week.

Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the anti-fossil fuel Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said on Tuesday that if Carmichael were to go ahead, it would become a “stranded asset”.

“Seaborne thermal coal markets remain oversupplied, and demand has weakened globally for the second year in a row,” Buckley said. “Structural decline of demand is evident.”

Buckley’s latest report, Adani: Remote Prospects, suggests the remote location of the proposed mine, and the lack of any existing commercial infrastructure, “mean the project continues to face prohibitively high capital cost”.

“The Carmichael coal proposal is commercially unviable at current or forecast thermal coal prices,” Buckley argued. “Fifteen of the world’s largest financial houses have either ceased working on the proposal or ruled out their involvement … In the meantime, global technological momentum has shifted toward the commercial rollout of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

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