Campaigners vow Adani mine won't get off ground despite "green light"

May 25 protest against Adani mine. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Adani company claims that a final decision to invest in the Carmichael coal mine has been made. However, campaigners have dismissed this announcement as a stunt and vowed the mine will never come into production.

Blair Palese of 350 Australia wrote to supporters on June 6: "We want to tell [Adani] that we are more committed than ever to STOP this project and ensure that sanity prevails by making sure this climate bomb never sees the light of day."

Huge community opposition to the mine has been expressed through mass attendance at the #StopAdani Roadshows in March, a successful community campaign calling on Westpac to rule out funding for Adani and a blossoming movement of increasingly frequent protests against the proposed mine.

For years, Adani has been postponing a "final investment decision" in the mine because of persistent legal and community opposition and a struggle to get financial support for the mine. Despite the announcement, these issues remain.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Elizabeth Knight commented: "It seems the $16 billion, highly controversial Carmichael coalmine is no closer to lift-off than it was last month, or last year, and, it can be argued, it has not progressed that far beyond where it was even five years ago.

"It was merely an announcement that Adani wanted the project to go ahead. But, realistically, that is only one hurdle this project faces. Finding the finance for it is a bigger issue and one that cannot be addressed with a media release."

Knight said: "A far more reliable indication of whether Tuesday's announcement should be taken seriously can be found in the response to Downer EDI's share price. This is the company Adani said on Tuesday had been given the very large and valuable contract to build the mine. The share price didn't move."

Greens Senator Larissa Waters dismissed the Adani announcement as "smoke and mirrors".

"Adani still don't have a single dollar from the banks to build their mine," she wrote to supporters, "nor do they have consent from traditional owners fighting to save their country."

Despite their lack of financial support, Adani is probably calculating that this dubious "investment decision" will make it easier to fleece Australian taxpayers out of $1 billion through a Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan.

The company is carrying a lot of debt so it has an interest in creating the appearance of progress that keeps the mine listed as an asset in their accounting.

"If Adani gets environmental approvals and a licence to mine, the value of its asset will have soared whether or not it actually mines," Peter Martin wrote in the June 1 Sydney Morning Herald. "It could even onsell the asset without mining."

"Even better, if it did onsell the project, it could maintain ownership of the railway, without which the next owners couldn't get the coal to port."

The railway — which would be funded by taxpayers through the proposed NAIF loan — is owned by a separate private company owned by the Adani family in the Caymann Islands tax haven.

This means the Adani family could continue to make profits even if the Carmichael mine itself fails to make money.

Despite the lack of substance of the Adani "investment decision" announcement, it will still take an ongoing people-power movement to stop the mine. 350 Australia is currently campaigning to force the Commonwealth Bank to join the growing list of banks who have publicly refused to finance the mine. In addition, Galilee blockade is conducting a decentralised non-violent direct action campaign.

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