Stop demonising Carmichael mine, says Adani boss
Summary: As the Indian company awaits final state and federal sign-offs after last week announcing it would self-fund the controversial Carmichael project, Mr Dow said they were sick of being used as a "political football" by those opposed to the mine and rail project.....
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"Straight up – the sceptics and naysayers are wrong. The project is real, the funding is real and we will be creating real jobs for central Queensland," Mr Dow writes in The Australian Financial Review today.
"We don't want to be a political football because this is about real jobs, real investment. However, it seems the minority of politics is opposed to creating jobs in north and central Queensland."
Environmentalists and the Greens are furious the Adani project is proceeding and have vowed to fight the mine – which will export 10 to 15 million tonnes with the capacity to expand to 27 million tonnes – for the life of the project. They want a future Labor government to cancel approvals for the mine.
They have also questioned whether Adani Group, the parent company of Adani Australia, has the finances to pay for the scaled-down $2 billion Carmichael mine.
Labor has previously supported the Adani mine, championing the jobs it would create for regional Queensland, but has gone cold in the past year. The party has carefully crafted a position that doesn't directly support the project – to help win over pro-climate action supporters in inner-city seats – but doesn't oppose it, to back those in regional areas crying out for jobs.
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk – who have been supportive of the Carmichael mine in the past – remain sceptical about whether the Adani project will get off the ground.
But Mr Dow, a former BHP Billiton executive who was brought in to finally deliver the project, said the Carmichael mine was now "commercially sharper". The project has been scaled back from a $16.5 billion, 60 million tonne a year mine and would now be in the first quartile of the global cost curve.
First coal is expected to be exported to Adani's power stations in India by the end of 2020.
"It stacks up environmentally and financially and let's not forget that the Carmichael mine and rail project is probably the most scrutinised project in Australia. Despite that, we are still subject to myth-making and hysteria and still the activists reject the process," he said.
"The approvals have been backed by the courts nine times over and still the activists reject the proposal."
Mr Dow said it would send a dangerous precedent to cancel approvals for existing mines. He said doing so in this instance would jeopardise the 1500 direct jobs building the mine and rail project, with thousands more indirect jobs.
Adani has become the lightning rod for environmental activists and anti-fossil fuel campaigners despite other mines being opened or expanded in the neighbouring Bowen Basin. Activist group GetUp has already flagged it will target Labor MPs who don't come out and publicly oppose the project, in the lead-up to next year's federal election.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said Adani's Carmichael mine had gone through a rigorous and exhaustive approvals process. He warned environmental activists about any plans to ramp up their activities once construction starts, due before Christmas.
"There can be no more tolerance of anti-resources activists breaking the law to stand in the way or lawful projects. And there can be no more tolerance of activists abusing the law to delay projects on trumped-up grounds," Mr Macfarlane said.
"Queenslanders have had enough of that, and they want the resources sector and all levels of government to work together to create jobs."
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who welcomed the Adani project as a way to open up the Galilee Basin, said some of the criticism of the Carmichael mine was xenophobic, even though the Indian company was helping to deliver electricity to poorer parts of society.