October 10, 2018

Protest at Korean Embassy over Adani coalmine


Wednesday 10 October, 2018:  An alliance of dozens of Australian groups demonstrated in front of South Korea’s embassy in Australia today after revelations Korean companies were being encouraged to support the controversial Adani Carmichael project.

A document released through Freedom of Information and obtained by environmental finance group Market Forces reveals Korean interest in financing and developing the controversial Adani Carmichael project, following a meeting between The Korean Export Import Bank and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In the document, from November 2016, Korean officials state:

More generally, we underscored our interest in encouraging Korean investment in Australian infrastructure, as well as the participation of Korean E&C companies with respect to construction. While we understood that decisions with respect to commercial viability were for the private sector to make, we noted the strong interest of the Australian and Queensland governments in the success of this project.

In July, Mirae Asset Daewoo underwrote AU$330 million in senior debt to the Abbot Point coal export terminal with the intention to sell the debt on in the secondary market.  

Australia’s Courier Mail newspaper on 14 September reported (Adani to fast-track Queensland mine project) “It [Adani] is understood to be holding talks with Korean finance companies who are interested in buying a stake in the port. It could be done within months.”

The partial sale of Adani’s Abbot Point coal export terminal would help raise capital for the proposed Carmichael coal mine or rail project, which would allow Australia’s largest thermal coal mine to be constructed and the opening up of a new coal mining basin.

“These developments are alarming”, said Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent, attending the demonstration. “Adani’s Carmichael coal mine would be an environmental and social disaster, trampling the rights of traditional owners, further degrading the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and ‘using up precious water resources needed by farmers’.

“Korean companies need to be made aware that if they help Adani raise capital for the Carmichael mine and rail project, they are taking on immense reputational risk as a result of the damage this project would cause.”

“This week, South Korea hosted the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5ºC report, showing how coal use would need to fall to zero by 2050 if we are to preserve the best outcomes for people and planet. Adani’s Carmichael mine is the exact opposite of action to limit global warming, resulting in enough greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime to match more than 6 years of Korea’s national emissions.

“The IPCC report released in South Korea this week is a devastating warning. To avoid catastrophic climate change we must stay under 1.5°C warming and that means that we cannot keep using and developing fossil fuels. Opening up new mines, such as Adani’s proposed mega coal mine, would be environmentally reckless and financially irresponsible,” said Blair Palese, CEO of 350.org Australia.

Internationally, more than 30 financial institutions have already ruled out finance for the Carmichael coal export project either through policy or making a direct statement about the project. These include lenders from Europe, Australia, the US, Japan and China, and insurers and reinsurers.