Australia supports Adani’s Carmichael project, says minister
New Delhi: The governments of Australia and Queensland strongly support the Adani Group’s Carmichael coal project, said Keith Pitt, Australia’s assistant minister for trade, tourism and investment.
“It is a very important project for Queensland and for Australia,” Pitt, who is also an MP from Hinkler in Queensland, said in an interview on Tuesday.
This statement of support by Pitt comes in the backdrop of Adani Group’s plans to start work on its $16.5 billion coal project in Queensland in October, which has seen opposition from Australian activists, Mint reported on Monday.
“The Carmichael mine is a very, very important investment in Australia. The federal government clearly is very-very supportive of Adani and that project. My understanding is that at all levels of government, whether it’s the state government of Queensland or the federal government for us, all approvals have now been finalised,” Pitt said.
After battling environmental protests and legal and regulatory hurdles for seven years, Adani Enterprises Ltd said in June that it was finally ready to proceed with the Carmichael coal and rail project in central Queensland.
“It is a very strongly supported project, particularly in Queensland and absolutely in regional Queensland. And for me as a regional MP I know that it drives jobs into our economy and regardless of whether you work there directly or run down to the local pie shop to wheel in and feed some of the workers, it is a benefit to everyone,” added Pitt who was in Delhi for the second Australia Business Week in India.
Adani Group has faced opposition from environmental groups concerned that the coal project will result in higher pollution levels and damage the Great Barrier Reef marine park in northern Queensland.
Pitt said that the regulatory, pricing and licensing components that all firms have to go through have been completed. “If you are talking about legal impediments, we live in a democratic society where people do have the option to take on cases with the courts, if they so wish. That is the reality of democracy,” added Pitt.
Once it is built, the Carmichael mine will be one of the biggest in the world.
In an interview on Friday, Gautam Adani said the project will create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the regional areas of Queensland, and inject 22 billion Australian dollars in royalties and charges into the Queensland government’s coffers.
“The reality is that if the project doesn’t go ahead there will be none. So, we are very-very keen for the project to proceed. All of the decisions and the regulatory processes have been finished,” added Pitt. The project may also rely on the Queensland government giving the company a $1 billion concessional loan to help it build the rail link. The government is currently assessing whether to give Adani the loan through its $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
“The NAIF is actually assessed by an independent committee, an independent board who then makes a selection and decision on that process. Now, that’s not complete yet. So, my understanding is that there will be any number of applications for funding from that pool but those decisions will be made independently of government,” said Pitt.
Adani plans to spend $16.5 billion in Australia, of which an investment of $3.5 billion has already been made. “It would provide jobs for Australians and resources for India and I think that’s a very-very strong reflection on their partnership and their partnership into the future,” added Pitt.