Culture

Australia’s Largest Coal Mine Was Just Approved, And There’s All Kinds Of Dodgy Stuff Going On Around It

A viral video criticising a coal company mysteriously vanished from the Internet just days before the company was awarded a huge government contract. But who's behind it?

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News broke this afternoon that Environment Minister Greg Hunt has approved a massive coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The Carmichael mine, which is expected to dig up to 60 million tonnes of coal out of the ground every year, will cover an area about seven times the size of Sydney harbour and will be Australia’s largest coal mine.

As is to be expected, environmental organisations are livid at the news; Greenpeace claims the mine will produce four times the carbon emissions that New Zealand does, while the Greens argue that the mine will destroy jobs reliant on the Great Barrier Reef, which will be affected by a steep increase in coal exports from Abbot Point, already the world’s largest coal port.

But there’s more to the story than the government giving a huge coal mine the go-ahead. A high-profile online effort to stop the mine was recently scuppered in very suspicious circumstances — and the company behind the mine’s construction could be behind it.

Who’s Claiming They Made A GetUp! Video And Getting It Taken Down From YouTube?

The mine was originally proposed by Indian consortium Adani Mining back in 2010, and has met ferocious opposition ever since, particularly from progressive activist organisation GetUp!. Earlier today, GetUp! Projects Chief of Staff Paul Oosting reacted to the news of the mine’s approval by pointing out that Adani is “facing multi-million dollar fines in India for environmental breaches at their Mundra [India] shipping terminal” and accused Adani of having a “track record of bribery, corruption and environmental destruction”.

In June GetUp!, in conjunction with media firm Motion Picture Company, created the below video to drum up opposition to the mine and expose Adani’s shocking record of environmental vandalism, illegal activity, and corruption. The video was picked up by Upworthy and seen by tens of thousands of people.

Until very recently the video was freely available on YouTube, but four days ago it was forcibly taken down after a copyright claim was lodged by one Jeffrin John on behalf of Corruption Tube, a website that claims it uploaded the video on February 17 of this year; strange given that the video didn’t even exist until June and is clearly of GetUp’s creation. Even more oddly, Corruption Tube seems to be almost entirely bare of content; the ‘FAQs’ page has nothing but Lorem Ipsum quotes, commonly used to fill out blank space for design purposes, while the ‘Terms’ page has a bizarre and poorly-written short story about a raft going down a river.

Things start to get a little clearer when you go back to Jeffrin John, the would-be copyrighter who uploaded the Adani video, as well as numerous others, to Corruption Tube under the username “jeffry”. A quick Google search reveals that a Jeffry John Thomas identifies himself as the head of “trade credit and political risk” at JB Boda Reinsurance, an Indian insurance firm that has dealings with Adani and its subsidiary, Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd, in the importation of chemicals through an Adani-owned port near the north-east Indian town of Hazira — another area where endangered mangrove forests have been affected by Adani’s activities.

It’s unclear to what extent JB Boda collaborates with Adani, whether Corruption Tube is in fact a real website, or whether Jeffrin John the copyrighter is Jeffry John Thomas the insurance man. But it does add up to a remarkable set of coincidences that a video exposing the practices of a coal mining company was taken down in dubious circumstances just days before that company was given permission to build a mine that could reap it billions — and that the most likely suspect works for an insurance firm that coal company does business with.

Considering the mine still needs to find financial backing to the tune of $16.5 billion to go ahead, it’s mighty convenient for Adani that the video went down at the precise moment it would’ve gotten the most attention. Suspicious Dog is suspicious.