February 6, 2015

350.org calls for moratorium on Abbot Point coal port expansion in light of “Adani-gate” findings

SYDNEY, 7th February — In response to information uncovered by Fairfax Media questioning the transparency of Indian mining giant Adani’s Australian operations, 350.org is calling for an immediate moratorium on the proposal to dredge the Great Barrier Reef to construct Adani’s controversial coal port expansion at Abbot Point in Queensland.

The port expansion, which would be the world’s largest, would open up a series of nine mega coal mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, tripling Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Construction is slated to begin as soon as the project receives Federal approval, which was imminent prior to the State’s landmark election last weekend.

However 350.org believes the approval process must be halted following ground-breaking new information uncovered by Fairfax this morning, which reveals that most of the companies associated with Adani’s Australian coal are not controlled by the public face of the company, Gautam Adani, but by his eldest brother Vinod. According to the Fairfax story, Vinod has been named in a criminal investigation into the alleged siphoning of $1 billion from Indian shareholders in three unknown Adani companies into offshore accounts in tax havens.

Company documents reveal that Adani sold its stake in Abbot Point in 2013 to a Singaporean company, however this was not made known to Australian authorities or the Bombay stock exchange. Adani was also found to still control a number of Australian companies linked to its Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin, despite excluding these companies from its 2013-14 accounts.

“These disturbing new allegations about Indian company Adani call into question the legitimacy of the approvals process for Abbot Point and the Galilee Basin coal mines,” said 350.org Australia CEO Blair Palese. “If Adani can’t conduct its operations above board and with transparency, how can the public trust it to protect our environment, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?”

“A full and proper investigation into the legitimacy of Adani’s operations and who owns Abbot Point is clearly needed and the possibility of a Royal Commission should not be ruled out,” Palese said. “It is imperative that a moratorium on any coal expansion in the Galilee Basin and at Abbot Point be enforced immediately — our Reef and climate are too precious to lose. Minister Hunt must fulfill his duty to protect the environment and call a moratorium on this disastrous project.”

It is now clear that the claims regarding the economic and employment opportunities offered by the Galilee mine development have been grossly exaggerated. According to The Australia Institute, the Galilee Basin job creation figures boasted by Adani were inflated by up to 300 percent.

“According to India’s own energy minister, the country is likely to stop importing coal within two years,” Palese said. “We have to ask what happens to these mega coal mines and ports as coal demand drops and renewables’ competitiveness rises. It is completely unconscionable to dredge the Reef and destroy our climate for a massive new coal project that may well end up as a stranded asset.”

“This project will benefit no one except rich coal barons and desperate politicians,” Palese said. “It is no wonder that Adani donated almost $50,000 to the LNP and $11,000 to Labor in 2013-14. Adani officials know that this project doesn’t have a financial leg to stand on. Without lavish political concessions, it has little to no commercial viability.”

Media Enquiries: Blair Palese 0414 659 511, blair@350.org

The Sydney Morning Herald story “Uncertainty over massive Queensland mine after election shock and concerns over Indian Company” can be found here.