Over the years we have all watched and read where the government has walked the tight rope of getting the investment and royalties out of mining, whilst at the same time, trying to make sure that they keep polluters at bay and ensure that the environment is protected.
Environmental lobby groups are very strong when it comes to ensuring that miners don’t tread over that fine line. On the other hand rural producers seem to be lambs to the slaughter and have very little say when it comes to looking after their own interests.
A great case study is Adani’s Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin. This giant company has a terrible track record of problems when dealing with environmental issues. Articles that I have read by very experienced journalists suggest that this mine has attracted more correspondence from around the world than anything I have ever seen. It seems the people come from all walks of life and all sorts of political persuasion.
There is widespread dismay and bewilderment about the approval of this massive mine, at a time when the world is clearly turning away from fossil fuel. Queensland Resources Council Chief, Michael Roche, says Australia has a moral duty to export coal to India to lift millions out of poverty.
Could it be possible that Australia has already given plenty for a project that may end up giving Australia short-term gain for long-term pain? The fact is, by all reports, this Indian coal company has a woeful track record when it comes to taking shortcuts.
Adani Australian CEO, Jeyakumer Janaker, was in charge of a copper mine which had major pollution disasters in Zambia. He was director of operations of the company that was charged in 2010 with causing a serious pollution spill, which saw a toxic brew of highly acidic metal laden discharge released into Zambia’s largest waterway, which provides water and food for about 40% of the country’s people.
Jeyakumer Janaker has been in charge of Adani’s operations in Australia since leaving Zambia in 2013. The company he worked for are being taken to the High Court in London by locals who say pollution from the company’s huge open pit copper mine made them ill and devastated nearby farmland over a ten-year period from 2004.
This is only part of the story. The previous Queensland LNP State Government in its head long rush to get this project off the ground placed a State Development Area over a large part of the potentially affected area. This effectively reduces landholder’s rights to nil, whether it is Freehold or Term Lease. The Queensland Government also offered the Foreign Multi-National $100s of millions of dollars while producers were faced with drought and poor commodity prices which dropped land values by as much as 25%. Land values govern compensation. Also landholders are forced to accept vastly inadequate infrastructure which makes management extremely difficult on top of inadequate compensation.
This company is ably abetted by the Queensland government, who seem to have no respect for people that have supported the government over many years. Anybody wanting to take on a mining giant does so at their own peril. As we all know, the law is there for the people with long pockets, and the people with short pockets risk bankruptcy if they try to go head-to-head with these giants.
Other experts are concerned the project is not financially viable. International banks have refused to finance Adani. Citigroup, Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays are amongst banks to publicly rule out financing the project. Goldman Sachs has stated it will not finance any project or initiate lines where the specified use of proceeds would significantly convert or degrade critical natural habitat. It seems most banks believe that getting involved with the Carmichael mine project and expansion of Abbot Point would harm their reputation. With normal banks not willing to touch this project, the State bank of India has come forward and given a $1 billion loan to Adani.
Life is a risk but surely this is a bigger risk than any Australian State or Federal government should be prepared to take. Money is not everything!