Adani Group to begin work on rail link to Carmichael coal mine in Australia

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on January 08, 2018

On track A view of the Abbot Point terminal in Australia

Green campaigners’ allegations baseless and far from facts, says CEO of Australian arm

The Adani Group is ready to start work on a 388-km rail link — a key part of its proposed $16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine in Australia — even as the protesting green groups mount fresh offensive to block the project after their earlier “doomsday prophecies” failed to scare off authorities and the private firm, a top official has said.

Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said the group was moving swiftly ahead with the project with milestones being achieved every day, including on financing.

“We will break ground in the next few days to mark the official start of work on the rail line that will help carry coal to the Abbot Point port for export. We remain confident and committed to deliver first coal in March 2020,” Janakraj told BusinessLine over phone from Australia.

For close to seven years, the single-largest Indian investor in Australia has been hauled over coals by environment, conservationist and indigenous groups on concerns ranging from potential contribution to global warming and damaging the Great Barrier Reef.

The project, according to Janakaraj, has complied with Australian environment laws, including many stringent conditions set by the authorities. Green activists who are a part of the governance system in Australia, assisted the ruling and the opposition parties to write the law, he said.

“And, after all the hurdles have been cleared, still green activists are unhappy...greens threaten to thrash the law,” Gary Johns, a columnist wrote in The Weekend Australian.

Johns was referring to Australian Greens party leader Richard Di Natale’s challenge that “he is prepared to stand in front of bulldozers and be arrested to stop it”.

“Greens conflate an alleged physical threat to the reef with a broader climate threat. Coal has been hauled across the reef for generations without harm. There is no physical threat to the reef from shipping Adani coal across it,” Johns wrote in his October 19 column.

The project is expected to light-up 100 million Indian homes and create some 10,000 jobs in Queensland, Australia’s third biggest state.

An India festival organised recently in Townsville by the Group was attended by some 20,000 people — an indication that the project was supported by the local community.

Green campaigners, though, are hurling fresh allegations on the Group, questioning the viability of the Abbot Point terminal and the Group’s financial ability to develop the coal mine, which Janakaraj described as “absolutely baseless and far from the facts”.

“The terminal has consistently delivered 100 per cent of supply-driven throughput and is not a low utilisation asset,” he said. “There is currently queue at Abbot Point for port capacity which means that the demand for capacity is greater than the capacity the terminal can actually provide to access seekers. Then, how does it have a risky dependence on the Carmichael mine,” he asked, referring to allegations by protestors that the terminal was an “unviable venture due to low utilisation and was desperately looking for coal from the Carmichael mine to prop it up”.

Abbot Point is a profit-making company and a sustainable venture with EBITDA of A$296.88 million for the year ended March 2017, he said.

Adani mining is fully funded by shareholder/ associate company money and there is no third party or bank debt that has funded the development of the mine till now, Janakaraj added.

India-Australia ties

“India-Australia relationship is at a very crucial growth juncture and a large Indian investment being successful is extremely critical to taking the relationship to the next level. Any two countries can get stronger when their trade ties are stronger. This is a very patriotic project from India-Australia point of view because both countries need it. If the project is not viable, why are the greens fighting us. We will not be doing the project if it is not viable,” Janakaraj added.

Published on October 25, 2017

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