Monday 18th Jun, 2018

Carmichael boss hits back at ‘loudest voices’

Adani protestors in Brisbane before the state election. Photo: Dan Macias
Adani protestors in Brisbane before the state election. Photo: Dan Macias

Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj has labelled critics of the Carmichael coal mine the vocal minority, and has reinforced the company’s determination to mine the Galilee, despite recent setbacks.

The Townsville-based mining boss this week promoted the part Adani plays in electrifying parts of the developing world, saying the Indian energy giant was “at the front line helping to solve these global dilemmas”.

“The Carmichael project is linked to unstoppable growth that has the potential to benefit Australians by creating jobs for families, opportunities for local businesses and billions of dollars in royalties to fund schools, roads and hospitals for years to come,” Janakaraj wrote in a Monday op-ed in the Financial Review.

“Australia’s prosperity has been built on investment in industries that create jobs … made possible by a framework of legislation, regulation and a robust legal system all backed by a reliance on fact and science,” he said.

“I hope Australia chooses to continue on this path rather than on a new path wherein the loudest voices dictate public policy without regard to fact, consistency and robust governance processes.”

Adani recently parted ways with Downer on the staged development of the 60 million tonne per annum thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin, saying it would serve as an owner-operator moving forward.

This came as the Queensland Government vetoed any federal funding for a key rail line to connect the mine to export facilities at Abbot Point, 388 kilometres away.

The project has also faced significant opposition from environmental groups, concerned over the impact of more coal exports on the Great Barrier Reef, and the contribution of the project to global emissions.

But Janakaraj says much of the criticism ignores the progress already made on Carmichael.

“The claims against the project are numerous. Each has been disproved by scientific studies, by experts and in court challenges,” he wrote.

“Yet false information is recycled and gets traction in public discourse. Much commentary ignores the 112 approvals granted, the studies that supported them and the many environmental conditions the project must, rightly, comply with.”

Pointing to figures from the International Energy Agency suggesting power from coal generation will increase 250% to 2040, Janakaraj said Adani was playing a part in helping people emerge from poverty.

“Only a generation ago they washed in a river, walked everywhere and cooked on fuel stoves, now many have motorbikes, mobile phones and are treated in clinics with basic equipment when they are sick,” he wrote.

“By 2040, India’s share of global energy use will be 11%. The population numbers 1.3 billion; in these people’s lifetimes, India and their standard of living will transform.”

Adani has recently lost the support of Labor at both the state and federal levels: After promoting the potential of the mine for regional jobs prior to the state election last November, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk decided to veto federal rail funding for the project.

And Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten last month said a Labor Government would not support the coal mine – but said it would stop short at tearing up existing contracts if it came to power.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week criticised the Opposition leader for pulling back his support for the mine.

“[Shorten’s comments] represent a genuine sovereign risk that will ultimately cost jobs and investment,” Turnbull said in Sydney on March 7.

“What Bill Shorten is doing is not just threatening that project, he’s threatening every other project and he’s threatening future projects. It will have a shocking, chilling effect on jobs and investment in Australia.”