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Let the Vandalism Begin: Adani Strikes Coal

He began on RN Breakfast by claiming that he, and his company, would be open and transparent about mining operations. But Lucas Dow, chief executive of Adani’s Australian operations, soon revealed in his June 25 interview that his understanding of transparency was rather far from the dictionary version. When asked how the Carmichael Coal Mine was getting its water, he claimed that these were from “legally regulated sources” and in commercial confidence. Businesses work like that, he stated forcefully, preferring to praise the company for it – and here, he meant no irony – its sound ecological credentials in solar energy and renewables.

The interview set the background for another sad chapter in the continued environmental renting of Australia. The company had found its first coal seam in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. As the ABC reported, it meant “the extraction of thermal coal at the 44,700-hectare site can begin.” The head of the Indian Adani Group, billionaire Gautam Adani, was celebrating his 59th birthday. “There couldn’t be a better birthday gift than being able to strengthen our nation’s energy security and provide affordable power to India’s millions,” tweeted the delighted chairman.

Even as oil and gas giants face court decisions and shareholder insurgencies about not having sufficient, tenably projected plans to reduce emissions, Adani remains antiquated in its stubbornness. Its vandalising behaviour flies in the face of even such conservative, pro-fossil fuel defenders such as the International Energy Agency. In its May report, the IEA noted, keeping in mind the target of a net zero emissions world by 2050, that more simply had to be done. Certainly, it argued, more could be done to meet 2030 targets. “Mandates and standards are vital to drive consumer spending and industry investment into the most efficient technologies. Targets and competitive auctions can enable wind and solar to accelerate the electricity sector transition. Fossil fuel subsidy phase-outs, carbon pricing and other market reforms can ensure appropriate price signals.”

Such observations are distant siren calls for the Indian giant, whose Australian branch, swaddled in controversy, has gone for a rebrand. Well as it might. Adani’s Carmichael Coal project, originally proposed in 2010 by the Adani Group, has catalysed the largest environmental protest movement since the Franklin campaign of the 1980s.

Having no doubt hired a goodly number of public relations consultants, the company’s rebadging as Bravus Mining and Resources suggests a stealthy deception. And it was as Bravus that success was announced: “We have struck coal at Carmichael,” came the headline in a June 24 company release.

The company CEO David Boshoff treated it as a matter of success in the face of opposition. “We have faced many hurdles along the way, but thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our team, we have now reached the coal seams.” The CEO would even have you believe that Bravus was playing a humble servant to many noble causes. “The coal will be sold at index pricing and we will not be engaging in transfer pricing practices, which means that all our taxes and royalties will be paid here in Australia. India gets the energy they need and Australia gets the jobs and economic benefits in the process.”

Boshoff is optimistic that Bravus will be able to export its first coal shipments in 2021. “We’re on track to export [the] first coal this year, and despite reaching this significant milestone, we will not take our eyes off our larger goal of getting coal to the market.” But do not worry, insists Bravus and the Adani Group: we have green credentials as well. Adani Green Energy Ltd (again, the PR consultants really have been working hard) had acquired SB Energy Holdings, which would see the company “achieve a total renewal energy capacity of 24.3GW.” What the Carmichael coal project did was contribute to a “burgeoning energy portfolio designed to create a sustainable energy mix” of thermal power, solar power, wind power and gas.

There were a few glaring omissions of detail from the fanfare, both in Dow’s interview and the company announcement. First came that pressing issue of water, one of its most scandalous features given the preciousness of that commodity on a water starved continent. The Queensland regulator notes that Adani has but one viable source, what is described as “associated” groundwater, drawn from the Carmichael site itself.

In May, the company’s North Galilee Water Scheme fell foul in the Federal Court, scuttling a pipeline project that would have supplied in the order of 12.5 billion litres a year from Queensland’s Sutton River. The Court agreed with the Australian Conservation Foundation that the federal government had erred in law when the Environment Minister failed to apply the “water trigger” in assessing the Scheme. The quashing of the plan led the ACF’s Chief Executive Officer Kelly O’Shanassy to conclude that, “Without the North Galilee Water Scheme, it’s hard to see how Adani has enough water to operate its mine.”

On water, as with much else, Bravus has adopted a policy of dissembling. In correspondence between an employee and Dow regarding a query by Guardian Australia on available aqueous sources, it was suggested “we do not give [the paper] anything more than what is already on the public record from us. They are clearly struggling to work out where we are getting our water, so I don’t think we give them any further clarity.” Dow approved of the measure.

There was also an absence of detail on the issue of the rail line, which is intended to link the mine to the Abbot Point coal terminal. Boshoff might well be confident about coal shipments this year, but the line is not, as yet, finished. That aspect of the project has also faced its share of problems, being accused of having a less than adequate approach to minimising erosion. The Queensland state government, after investigating those claims, found in favour of Adani, though it recommended that “construction activities within waterways should not be undertaken during the wet season.”

The Friday interview with Dow was also marked by the usual numbing apologetics and justifications long deployed by the fossil fuel lobby. If we don’t do it, others will. If we do not dig and exploit the deposits, Australians will miss out. Families will suffer. Coal remained a king with a firmly fastened crown, left un-threatened for decades. Precisely such a frame of mind is firmly fastened to the raft of dangerous unreality, and it is one that is sinking.

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14 comments

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  1. Williambtm

    The Adani/Bravus go-ahead is a classic example of Scomo’s L/NP party bowing to the environmental destroying billionaire opportunists to the detriment of our nation.
    This government is complicit in a great many unwarranted destructive mining approvals permitting further degradation of our nation.
    The people have since learned how this L/NP government has engaged in treachery against the best interests of the Australian people.
    Time the Governor-General stepped in and revoked the L/NP from office and to ban all future participation by the L/NP to contest all future Federal elections.

  2. totaram

    Williambtm: “Time the Governor-General stepped in and revoked the L/NP from office and to ban all future participation by the L/NP to contest all future Federal elections.”

    Really? You are seriously delusional. There is no way this can happen, much as I would love to see it.

    Please try to be a little more realistic. What can we do to get rid of these crooks in the government, and how? Thanks.

  3. Williambtm

    totaram, the Gov-General is the highest office in Australia; that high office was resorted to when Gough Whitlam’s government was forced from office.

    Before you hurl your disparagements in the future, could you qualify your statements by some factual means? I understand the subscribers to the AIM would appreciate your doing so?
    Thank you.

  4. LambsFry Simplex.

    And sadly, the use of water resources not questioned at either state or federal level.

    What chinless folk politicians are.

  5. Canguro

    Probably not the right place to pour oil on troubled waters; it seems to that the waters will remain troubled whatever the endeavours to placate or soothe them. The CSIRO was warning of the prospect of global water shortages and the social consequences of that looming situation as far back as the mid-nineties, and of course things have only continued to deteriorate dramatically on every continent since then.

    In 2016 the World Bank released a report, High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy. It is not an optimistic paper.

    Earlier attention from other sources include Endgame, by Derrick Jensen, released in 2006, another less than optimistic appraisal; overpopulation and the dominant economic framework being the primary causes of the current seemingly insoluble issues facing humanity.

    Bill McKibben’s 2012 Rolling Stone essay, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math; he argues that the 2,795 Gigatons of fossil fuels that still sit below the earth’s surface will be extracted, come what may, and despite the consequences.

    Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2014 book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History is another grim assessment of the consequences of global warming and its consequences for the environment

    Roy Scranton’s 2015 book, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene is an utterly clear-eyed vision of what lies ahead, and it isn’t a pretty picture. Seventh paragraph of the introduction begins with “We’re fucked. The only questions are how soon and how badly.”

    David Wallace-Wells’s 2019 book, The Uninhabitable Earth, opens with “It is worse, much worse than you think.” Doomsday, Heat Death, The End of Food, Climate Plagues, Unbreathable Air, Perpetual War, Permanent Economic Collapse, Poisoned Oceans are among the basket of topics discussed. Not a happy assessment of our future.

    Locally, our own BOM’s State of the Climate 2020 report is another addition to the already burgeoning catalogue of dismal assessments of what lies ahead.

    Ecosystems are unravelling at warp speed when assessed against what was considered to be the natural rate of change. Glaciers are dwindling and disappearing. Lakes are drying up. Desertification is increasing apace.

    Clear-eyed activists like Greta Thunberg have no problem in identifying the problems that beset us and urge us to put our focus on the issues that need to be attended to if the coming generations are to have any chance of a reasonable quality of life. She understands the urgency of the problem.

    Would that we also share her vision of the dystopian future that awaits, but, unfortunately, it may already be too late, and we rightly criticise the political classes for their collective lack of spine, and in some cases, their seeming embrace of the apocalyptic endtimes.

    At the risk of appearing churlish, it seems petty and pointless arguing over pennies when pounds are at stake.

  6. Phil Pryor

    I don’t care much about Adani or India’s or the world’s energy “security”, or about heroin supply security, or about prostitution security, or about rigged betting security. or, or, etc…but this planet’s security now is perceived, by the aware and clever, not the profiteering and selfish, as being dependent upon clean environmental conditions and preservation security. Is that too hard for the political perverts and their donors and patrons? Even the perverts, misfits and ego masturbators in corporate crappery will benefit from a clean and secure planet. Could our deluded, drenched, misfit, superstitious, idiotic, regressive, bumboy P M understand that??

  7. king1394

    williambtm – you make it sound like the GG woke up one morning and decided that he had had enough of the Whitlam Government. Have you forgotten the weeks of crisis as the Liberal/National dominated Senate refused to pass the Supply Bills?

    The Governor General is supposed to always take advice from the Australian Prime Minister, just as the monarch takes advice from the British PM. What happened with Whitlam was outside the norm. Fraser promised that the supply crisis would be over if GG Kerr gave him the nod. Immediately the Supply Bills were passed the Parliament was prorogued, and an election was called.

    A number of changes have since been made to the Constitution by Referendum, that prevent this from happening again.

  8. guest

    As Canguro points out with examples, the reality of climate change has been been explained for decades and as time goes on we gather more data and we look around and see the facts before our eyes. The deniers claim they admit there is climate change but not so “alarming” or “catastrophic” as the IPCC claims. According to the deniers, as they claim for the COVID pandemic, we can just live with it and adapt. The only excuse these deniers can have for their denial is that climate change runs against their vested interests and there are people with the same interests who will pay big money to protect those vested interests – that is, the fossil fuels cartel. Let me repeat again what Jennifer Mahorasy, editor of the IPA’s fourth edition of its denial publication, “Climate Change: The Facts 2020”, says in her introduction: “The contributors to [this publication] don’t necessarily agree on the extent that recent global warming may be affected by human activity – but they all share the perspective that any such warming is subject to cycles, and this is not unusual in its rate or magnitude, and it is not catastrophic.” She also had a variation on that theme in the 2017 edition: “An advantage of my approach in compiling the chapters for this book – an approach where there is no real attempt to put everything into neat boxes – is that there are many surprises. I am referring to the snippets of apparently anomalous information scattered throughout the chapters.These can. hopefully, be one day be reconciled.” Contradictions can be “reconciled”? Plimer’s claim that CO2 has nothing to do with climate change “reconciled” with the late Bob Carter’s claim the CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas? We can easily see how these sentiments infuse the thinking of deniers everywhere in politics and media where coal is praised and climate change is reduced to just a flutter in the wind. China is paraded as the emissions demon of the world and its claims of reducing emission by 2060 is vehemently denied by climate deniers. Yet if any country understands the deleterious effects of air pollution and health effects on the populous, it is China. China is a world leader in the manufacture of renewable energy. So we come to India, which has abundant coal, and also burns massive amounts of diesel fuel. Yet it is also working hard on renewables. But the question must be asked: “How long will coal remain king in India?” (greentechmedia.com, 20/1/2021 – now Wood Mackenzie at woodmac.com). After 2030-2035, who will invest in coal capacities? People are feeling the effects of air pollution, and renewables are rapidly on the rise. Even Adani (whatever its name change) is involved in the manufacturing of renewables. So what is it doing in Oz, have weaseled its way into Queensland over the past 10 years with great promises of thousands of jobs, but have now involves a much smaller workforce in a time of mechanisation – and using huge amounts of water, the source of which is an industrial secret. What kind of suckers are we in Oz? We are told by Bridget Mackenzie, for example, in “We must put our interests first on carbon” (22/6/2021) that “Fast forward to today and we must be wary of platitudinous calls to set emissions targets which cannot be met without destroying 100s and 100s of jobs in our agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors.” Is that alarmist, apocalyptic catastrophism – or what? It is a false promise. “Nevertheless, coal and natural gas will continue to remain essential for decades to Australia’s energy needs and economy even as we embrace other technologies.” Including nuclear? Why are these people so shortsighted – so ‘un-woke’. Morrison goes to Cornwall and the G7 meeting, as someone said, like going to a party with a packet of Doritos.

  9. DrakeN

    @guest, I would have liked to have read your contribution, but aging eyesight and a touch of astigmatism makes it too difficult to read, it being without proper paragraphing.

  10. Lawrence S. Roberts

    As an ex-mining man I know that if you don’t have water then you don’t have a mine. We can only assume that The Carmichael Mine intends to tap the great artesian basin. I have long suspected that the adjacent leases belonging to companies owned by Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart are there more for access to the water than the coal.

  11. guest

    Sorry, DrakeN. I started with paragraphing, but when I went to edit the paragraphing was lost. I was too slow to get started on the re-paragraphing.

  12. Henry Rodrigues

    What is really depressing is that the Australian voters don’t know, don’t care or just don’t give a rat’s arse about the environment, that will effect them and their children and their children’s children. Are they so drugged by Murdoch’s propaganda, and the crap they see on commercial TV ??? I only hope that one day they will realize and kick themselves for being so willfully stupid and blind. I include in this members of my own family some of whom are dyed in the wool Murdoch arse lickers. I hope they’re reading this.

  13. Zathras

    “A number of changes have since been made to the Constitution by Referendum, that prevent this from happening again.”

    I think there was only one referendum passed – in 1977 – about filling casual Senate vacancies but otherwise nothing else has been changed and it can certainly happen again.

  14. guest

    It is sickening to see the ridiculous misinformation dispersed by Murdoch media. The examples of fake science mentioned in my earlier post on this thread are the influences guiding Murdoch journalists in their denial of climate change.

    Chris Mitchell’s, “Twitter drives Barrier Reef, Barnaby Joyce reporting” (28/6/2021) is a muddle of various talking points, one of which is the matter of the downgrading of the Great Barrier Reef by UNESCO which leads Mitchell to attack the ABC

    “In Kelly’s first interview following the UNESCO news, she did not ask Josh Thomas, chief executive of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, how with only 1.3% of global emissions Australia could save the reef with a domestic climate policy. Thomas did say action needed to be global and suggested all reefs should be on the endangered list if the GBR is. Kelly ignored the prompt.”

    But clearly Mitchell missed Thomas’s point. It is a favourite talking point used by the Murdoch stable, to keep talking about how Australia cannot do much by itself. Consequently Mitchell wanted Thomas to talk about Australia’s small emissions (ignoring the millions of tonnes of coal sold into export to be burnt) and so missed Thomas’s point about a global effort.

    Let us put aside China’s huge emissions. There are some 197 countries signatory to the Paris Agreement. Let us imagine each one of those countries reducing its 0.5% of global emissions. Nearly 100% of global emissions would be reduced.

    But of course some countries have more than 0.5% of emissions and some have more. But it does illustrate theoretically what can be done with global action instead of countries thinking only of their own interests.

    Mitchell goes on with his own propaganda: “You would be forgiven for thinking this [climate talk] was just self-serving media politics designed to pressure Australia to commit to net zero by 2050. Yet most Australians understand we are one of the few countries likely to meet our 2030 Paris climate commitments and many of the poseurs who have signed their nations on to 2050 will not even meet their 2030 targets.”

    Does Australia know this? Australia so far has claimed to have met a small target – not enough – and a lot more to be done. And while the Murdoch media has criticised anyone knowing about 2030 or 2050 so far ahead, here we have Mitchell making predictions about countries around the world with the utmost confidence.

    Concerning the UNESCO consideration of downsizing the Great Barrier Reef to “in danger”: “According to Reefs at Risk Revisited, a report by the World Resources Institute, 75pc of the world’s coral reefs are at risk from local and global stresses. About a quarter of them have already been damaged beyond repair. If we continue with business as usual, 90pc of coral reefs will be in danger by 2030, and nearly all of them by 2050.” (columbia.edu, “Losing Our Coral Reefs”, 2011, revised 2018)

    In the past five years, there have been three bleaching events on the GBR.

    See also, among other reports, theconversation.com, “Australia’s government as ‘blind-sided’ by UN…”

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