No, The Adani Coal Mine Isn’t Being Built – Yet

Construction on Australia's biggest coal mine is still probably a while off.


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Yesterday Adani announced that it was officially starting work on its controversial $16 billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. But despite plenty of headlines suggesting the project had been given a “green light”, there’s no still guarantee the project will actually go ahead.

In yesterday’s statement, Adani Chairman Gautam Adani said that the company had made a formal decision to proceed with the mine, and had signed contracts with local construction companies to kick things off. However, there is still one small issue: they don’t actually have the money to build it.

And whether they get the funds they need from banks or from the government is still unclear.

What Is The Adani Mine And Why Is It So Controversial?

The Adani Carmichael coal mine is a $16 billion project which will be located in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. If it gets built, it would be the largest coal mine in Australia. Adani says the mine is expected to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over 60 years.

The proposed coal mine is controversial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would produce a huge amount of carbon dioxide which environmental activists claim would accelerate global warming, leaving the environment, and in particular the Great Barrier Reef, more at risk than it already is.

Secondly, the mine’s location has led to clashes with local Indigenous communities. In May, the Turnbull Government pushed to amend the Native Title Act — a move that would facilitate the mine’s construction. Activist groups like the Seed Youth Indigenous Climate Network have argued any amendments to the Act would substantially weaken Indigenous land rights.

Larissa Baldwin, National Co-Director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, said “Neither the Queensland or Federal governments should allow Adani to ignore the rights of Traditional Owners who’ve not consented to a mine which will destroy land and culture.”

What Does This Statement Actually Mean?

According to environmental finance group, Market Forces, Adani still needs to raise $5 billion for the mine.

“Announcing an intention to invest is a far cry from having the finance to do so,” said Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent.

State government funding for the Adani mine has yet to be approved by Queensland’s Palaszczuk government. The big Australian banks have ruled out support for the project, and the Sydney Morning Herald has reported on its financial uncertainty.

According to a poll taken by the Australia Institute, two thirds of respondents were opposed to the Queensland government subsidising the Carmichael mine. The Greens and environment lobby groups are calling for a halt to any discussions on supporting the coal mine, arguing that it would significantly increase Australian carbon emissions and cause environmental damage.

But the government is still pretty supportive of the project. Malcolm Turnbull is claiming the mine will bring tens of thousands of jobs and a revenue boost. Even though this number is commonly attached to the Adani mine, environmental groups remain sceptical. In court discussions, witnesses stated that it would only create 1,464 jobs. The ‘10,000 job’ line is based off a model presented by Adani’s earlier consultation, but has since been contradicted by the Productivity Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Even though the company announced its intention to proceed with the mine, it’s unclear how much the government and other investors will help out. With many of the big banks stepping away from the project and a growing public opposition, the coal could remain firmly in the ground.

Feature image via Greenpeace/Tom Jefferson