Goyal takes up Adani project with Australia

Raghuvir Srinivasan Canberra | Updated on February 10, 2016

Power Minister Piyush Goyal with Australia’s Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Territories Josh Frydenberg in Canberra at the Australia-India Energy Dialogue on Wednesday RAGHUVIR SRINIVASAN

The $16.5-billion project is to mine coal in the Carmichael mines in Queensland

The Adani group’s coal mining project in Australia figured in talks between visiting Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Australia’s Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Territories Josh Frydenberg as part of the Australia-India Energy Dialogue here today.

The two ministers discussed a range of issues covering cooperation in the field of coal mining technology, carbon capture and storage, sourcing of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Australia and prospects for the Indo-Australia free trade agreement, apart from the Adani investment.

Green approval

The $16.5-billion project to mine coal in the Carmichael mines in Queensland recently received environmental approval from the state government and is now awaiting grant of mining licence, which is the last of approvals needed for work on the project to begin.

Addressing a group of visiting Indian correspondents along with Goyal, Frydenberg said that the “Adani investment” was one of the issues that was discussed. This is a project that will see billions of dollars of investment and create thousands of jobs. So, it is very important to our relationship and we’re looking forward to it going ahead,” Frydenberg said, pointing out that both the state and federal governments and the federal opposition all support the Carmichael project.

Resolving issues

Later, when asked what was the specific discussion about the project, Goyal would only say: “We discussed so many projects that are stressed in India and in Australia. Both sides had issues where each others’ commercial interests were stressed. So, we agreed that we should look at all these projects in a manner that these issues are resolved.” Australia, for instance, had problems with mining licence for a project in Karnataka and a joint venture iron ore project in Odisha, among several other such issues.

The ministers agreed to set up five working groups that would focus on taking the dialogue forward.

These would be in the areas of coal mining and clean coal technologies, LNG, including re-gasification technology, renewable energy, coal bed methane, and underground coal gasification, and smart grids and grid integration technology. “I can see energy becoming the most important and defining part of our engagement with Australia in the days to come” the Minister said.

‘Want to be part of Indian Express’

A Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, which has been hanging fire for long, came up in talks that Power Minister Piyush Goyal had with Australia's Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

Goyal was guarded in his comment saying that he had had a “little bit” of discussion at a conceptual level with Trade and Industry Minister Andrew Robb. “It is for the Commerce Minister to comment. Even today, we have a team of officials here to discuss issues surrounding Rules of Origin,” Goyal said.

Frydenberg was, however, more forthright: “We very much want an agreement with India.... Australia wants to be a part of the Indian Express. I think an FTA is not just an economic imperative but also a political imperative. And I’m sure whether it’s down in the near future or in the medium term, an FTA between our two countries will become a reality.”

(The writer is in Australia at the invitation of CII.)

Published on February 10, 2016

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