Freight rail operator Aurizon has announced that it is withdrawing its application for federal funding to build a rail corridor in the Galilee Basin, delivering a further blow to the Adani Carmichael mine project.
In a statement released on Friday, Aurizon’s managing director and CEO, Andrew Harding, said that while the operator was in “ongoing discussions” with several entities looking to develop mines in the Galilee Basin, no “definitive contractual arrangements” had been established.
“Our NAIF [Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund] application is, in part, predicated on having customer contracts secured. Given this is unlikely to occur in the near future we believe it is prudent to withdraw the NAIF application,” Harding said.
Harding indicated that Aurizon continued to support to development of the basin, and, if the situation were to alter, might in the future re-think its decision to withdraw from the funding application.
“If market circumstances change and our discussions with potential customers progress to commercial arrangements we will look at all possible financing arrangements to develop the rail solution.”
A hypothetical rail line would allow resources companies to have their commodities transported from the huge thermal coal basin to the east coast and the Abbott Point coal terminal, opening up the area for development and enabling the Adani mine project.
Harding said that development of the Basin could provide “a major boost” to Australia’s economy, and bring “thousands of jobs” to regional Queensland.
“We believe Aurizon can play a key role in helping facilitate a multi-user, open access rail solution for the various new mines in the region.”
The Palaszczuk government had promised during the November election campaign that, if re-elected, it would veto any loan from NAIF to Adani to build a rail line. Further pressure had been placed on the government by opponents of the mine to veto Aurizon’s application.
Now that Aurizon has voluntarily withdrawn its application, the Adani mine project has become further immured in the limbo within which it has languished for months – with little relief in sight.