Indian energy giant Adani has announced its “final investment decision” on the Carmichael coal project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, but critics have suggested the miner is trying to bully the government into giving it a $1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
Adani executives put pen to paper on key multi-million dollar contracts and opened the company’s Townsville office on Tuesday.
Adani chairman Gautam Adani said the final investment decision represented the “official start” of the project, which includes building a 60 million tonne per annum coal mine and processing site, and a new 189-kilometre rail line to link the site with the existing Goonyella rail line at Moranbah.
“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,” the chairman said. “We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project. We are committed to regional Queensland and we are committed to addressing energy poverty in India.”
Adani’s Australian boss Jeyakumar Janakaraj outlined several contracts signed by Adani in to kick off the project. Adani signed a $74 million deal for rail to be supplied from Arrium’s steelworks in Whyalla, and an $82 million deal for sleepers from Austrak’s facility in Rockhampton.
Janakaraj also referenced agreements with AECOM to survey and design the rail link, and Downer Mining for the construction and operation of the mine itself.
“We are building more than a rail line,” Janakaraj said. “We are building a line that will open the Galilee Basin, linking that massive coal reserve to markets around the world, generating power, and – importantly – generating many thousands of direct and indirect jobs in regional Queensland.
“In Adani’s case, it will link its Carmichael coal mine to our bulk loading facility at the port of Abbot Point from where it will be shipped to Adani’s power stations in India.
Janakaraj said Adani was delivering on its promise “to address power poverty for hundreds of millions in India and unacceptably high unemployment in regional Queensland”.
“To those activists who sit in creature comfort and criticise us, I ask a simple question – what are you doing for those people?”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was on hand to officially open Adani’s regional headquarters in Townsville on Tuesday, at a ceremony also attended by Northern Australia and resources minister Matt Canavan.
Palaszczuk said the project would be built in a way that supports the local region and its economy.
“Opening up these three regions [the Galilee and Surat Basins, and the North West Minerals Province] for development has the potential to support thousands of new jobs that are needed in regional centres along the coast as well as in outback Queensland,” the premier said.
“With the final investment decision announced, I welcome contracts being completed for early suppliers to the project in regional Queensland and I urge the start to early works to support even more jobs for Queenslanders.”
Several criticised the news, however, saying Adani was progressing with its massive plan to force the Turnbull Government to approve a $1 billion loan request made by the miner, to access funds from the NAIF to help build the rail line.
A spokesman for Adani conceded the loan was very important to the miner’s plans, reportedly telling Fairfax: The fact is NAIF is critical. If we don’t receive that loan, then we are going to have to look at our options.”
Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters labelled the announcement “a PR stunt to squeeze a $1 billion handout from Australian taxpayers”.
“This so-called final investment decision is meaningless,” Waters said. “Adani is still broke, and 19 banks have refused to fund their deadly mega-coal mine.
“Today’s announcement does not mean the mine will go ahead, it’s a grab for a $1 billion handout of public funds from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
“This is desperate PR stunt from a desperate company trying to squeeze even more freebies from their mates in Labor and the Liberal Nationals.”