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Adani coal mine good for climate change: Adani CEO

Anti Adani protests, Adani Australia's CEO and Head of Country Jeyakumar Janakaraj (inset) Source: AAP / SBS

EXCLUSIVE: Adani’s Carmichael coal mine will be ‘hugely beneficial’ to Australia and ‘global climate change’, Adani CEO Jeyakumar Janakraj tells SBS Punjabi.

This week Indian mining giant, Adani, launched a media blitz in Australia, asking for a ‘fair go’, accusing the Queensland government of continuing to shift the goalposts on its Carmichael mine project. 

The controversial thermal coal mine project in the Galilee Basin had been expected to produce 60 million tonnes of coal a year – which would have been the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world.  

Adani has now revised the size of the mine down to one-sixth of the original size, and most of the coal, considered ‘low quality, high ash’ content, would be destined for India. 

“There is a need for energy poverty to be alleviated in India and in Asian countries,” Adani CEO Jeyakumar Janakraj told SBS Punjabi. 

“And the mine will provide thousands of jobs in northern Queensland. The benefits far outweigh the other side (which is) in opposition. 

“The Australian mine, while it’s going to be ten million tons in production, is going to supply high-quality coal to power plants, mostly in India and these power plants are today importing and bringing in coal which are much inferior to the Australian coal and therefore will genuinely reduce the amount of emissions,” he said.

"I think it's hugely beneficial to Australia and for the global climate change at large as well."

Adani Caramichael mine map
SBS News

Adani first proposed the $16.5 billion coal mine in 2010 but faced rigorous scrutiny and protests. The primary concerns have been the potential impact on the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Artesian Basin, and carbon emissions. 

The project has also been beset by legal challenges and struggled to attract financial backers for its initial $16.5 billion project. 

The main environmental concerns centre on the mine’s proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and potentially irreversible damage to its fragile ecosystem.  Environmentalists also argue that the thermal coal extracted will contribute to global warming.  The Climate Council, too, says it poses a ‘grave risk’ to Australia. 

In response, Mr Janakraj said it’s only “people in the fringes who have their views and ideological positions.” 

Adani is a “very well balanced” company, he said,  with a mix of thermal and renewables in its portfolio. 

“We believe in climate change, we believe in actions that needed to be taken on the renewables side. We walk the talk”, he said.  

“There is no reason for us to consider that the mine will not go ahead,” Mr Janakraj said, without giving a time frame on when construction could begin. 

He said Adani was waiting for some final approvals, adding that the company is “here for good”.  

Native title disputes

Many Indigenous traditional owners are opposed to Adani’s project. Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou people claim they did not give permission for the mine to proceed.  But last year, the federal court ruled in favour of the Indian mining company.

Adani protests
Indigenous Anti Adani protestor interrupts Resource Minister Matt Cananvan and Wangan and Jagalingou People spokesman Patrick Malone in Canberra, Feb 12, 2019.

Mr Janakraj, however, disputes any disagreement. 

“By and large there is positivity in the community, especially in the Indigenous community and the localities in which we really operate,” he said. 

Environmental concerns

Adani has responded to the latest claims that inadequate management plans for the endangered black-throated finch could scupper its project, saying the report "reads like an anti-coal, anti-mining, anti-Adani lobbying brochure."

Asked about the recent flooding at the Adani port at Abbott Point in northern Queensland, Mr Janakraj called it an “aberration”. 

Concerns were raised this week by the Australian Conservation Foundation which released aerial images of flooding around Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal after the company admitted it a spill of polluted floodwater into the Caley Valley wetlands via 'an unauthorised release point.'  Adani claims the flood waters did not enter the Great Barrier Reef.

Adani Caley Valley wetlands
Image purporting to show coal stockpiles and discoloured water in settlement ponds and in the Caley Valley wetlands, Abbot Point, Feb 9, 2018.
Gary Farr/Australian Conservation Foundation

“We have nothing to hide here,' said Mr Janakraj, "We have hugely improved our operations and will continue to do so.” 

Mr Janakraj declined to respond to the question about who hasn’t given the Indian mining company a fair go, and whether, if a company other than Adani had been developing the Carmichael mine, would it have been treated any differently. 

Meanwhile, ex Greens party leader and environmentalist Bob Brown has announced a Stop Adani Convoy from Hobart in Tasmania to Bowen in Queensland. 

Hundreds of people have signed up for it and have vowed to oppose the coal mine.

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