Adani Board ‘decision’ a con: Why the Carmichael coal mine must be stopped

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Who is he working for? Malcolm Turnbull wants to give $1 billion of taxpayers' money Gautam Adani (Image via @Askgerbil)

Tuesday’s announcement that Adani’s Board had made a new "investment decision" to proceed with the destructive Carmichael coal mine is nothing more than a farcical exercise in smoke and mirrors designed to attract a $1 billion concessional loan.

This is a mine that Adani has been "going ahead" with for years, and that Australians have been fighting to stop for years. The Stop Adani Alliance, made up of 20 key environment groups, representing over 1.5 million Australians, will keep fighting the mine. We are powered by a rapidly growing grassroots movement across the nation.

The fact is, the mine simply doesn’t stack up. Without massive subsidies from the public and everyday Australians taking on the financial risk, it simply won’t proceed. Adani doesn’t have finance and it can’t proceed until it does.

Tuesday was simply groundhog day. Adani has announced an “investment decision” multiple times over the six years since it acquired this project proposal but it still floundering around trying to secure ‘financial close’.

Adani is yet to lure a single financial institution willing to bankroll the project. Without this support and public subsidies, the heavily leveraged balance sheet of Adani Enterprises leaves no internal capacity to fund this project proposal.

22 banks have either distanced themselves publicly from Galilee Basin coal export projects, or introduced policies that prohibit financing Adani’s mine.

Adani’s reliance on concessional finance and other special treatment throws up additional major hurdles.

In addition to its current Federal Court appeal against the environmental approval for the mine, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has received legal advice suggesting the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) board members are likely to be in breach of their duties if they approve the concessional loan. NAIF must consider the financial risks associated with climate change in this decision

If the Federal Government hands Adani $1 billion of public money for this destructive mine that will destroy our Reef, the Australian Conservation Foundation will be considering all avenues, including further legal action, to stop it. When the Adani mine fails, the Australian public will be the very last people to get their money back — and probably won’t.

Of course, in all politics and positioning, we can lose track of why it is so important to stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

Since this mine was first proposed, global warming has fuelled the worst coral bleaching on record on and up to half of the Great Barrier Reef reef’s coral may have died. This is a mine that will fuel the global warming that is making the Reef sick, threatens 70,000 tourism jobs that rely on it, and will divert urgent investment from renewable energy.

Apart from that the fact that any public money spent on coal infrastructure is a huge financial risk and threatens the Reef, it also has a big opportunity cost in terms of lost investment in other much needed infrastructure and renewable energy.

There are significant investment opportunities for Northern Australia that would be of much greater benefit in terms of jobs without wrecking our climate or the Reef.

Tourism already sustains many more direct jobs than mining does. Investment in sustainable tourism infrastructure could provide more resilient long term jobs across regional areas.

ACF has identified 20 alternative proposals for jobs rich large scale solar plants, 20 higher education campuses that could benefit, 67 Indigenous Ranger groups with no certainty of long term funding, and hundreds of locations where internet and mobile phones are unusable. Just for starters.

Indeed, Australians understand that the future lies in renewables and innovation, even though Malcolm Turnbull seems to have forgotten. When asked what NAIF’s priority should be: 33 per cent of Australians said renewable energy, 28 per cent education infrastructure projects and only 7 per cent coal infrastructure.

In other words, public investment in Adani coal would cheat Australians in the north not only out of a healthy Reef but out of jobs in renewable energy, better education facilities and tourism. It beggars belief these projects would be turn up in favour of a destructive coal mine.

We won’t be giving up. The most significant environment campaign of this generation is only just getting started. A mass movement of people power will stop the Adani mine. Australians understand there is a choice between coal and a healthy Reef, a choice between coal and a safe future for our kids and grandkids and a choice between coal and clean renewable energy.

We have a very clear message to the Prime Minister: this is your job to fix. If the Turnbull Government helps the mine proceed, then absolutely it will be held to account. His legacy could be nothing more than a dead Reef and stranded coal assets.

Basha Stasek is a healthy ecosystems campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation

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Adani Board ‘decision’ a con: Why the Carmichael coal mine must be stopped

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