Adani’s financially friendless Great Barrier Reef coal plans


The confirmation by Standard Chartered that they have pulled out of funding Adani’s plan to develop its proposed Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin is another massive blow to the dreams of the beleaguered Indian company.

Last week Adani lost its Australian adviser, the Commonwealth Bank. The day before this parting of the ways became public the Federal Court of Australia had ruled that the federal government’s approval of the Carmichael mine was invalid.

When questioned at its annual general meeting in London in May about its support for Adani’s controversial project, Standard Chartered stated that its involvement with the project was under review.

In June, Market Forces and representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, traditional owners of the land where the Carmichael mine is proposed, met with Standard Chartered.

In a moving meeting, the Wangan and Jagalingou people made it clear that this project would devastate their land, threaten their very identity as a people, and they would not consent to the mine. It was clearly a huge wake-up call to Standard Chartered. At the time Standard Chartered were stoically sticking to their investor brief but clearly looking to canvass a broader range of views.

This week the company stated that “as a result of this ongoing review by Standard Chartered and the delays experienced by Adani in receipt of its project approvals, both parties have agreed to end the bank’s role in the Carmichael project.”

This leaves Adani without a partner in the banking world for their massive A$16 billion mine and new export terminal in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

This is huge news. Standard Chartered was more than an adviser. They had also loaned about A$680 million to Adani for this project. Their withdrawal from the project can only be interpreted as a clear statement that the Carmichael mine is not viable and lacks broad community support.

Adani’s massive coal projects are now hanging by a thread.

Twelve international banks have already ruled out support for the project.

Adani’s Galilee Basin coal plans now hinge on whether one of the three other large domestic banks -the NAB, ANZ and Westpac – will go where others fear to tread. All are under growing pressure from customers and the community to rule out any involvement in the project.

As the roll call of banks distancing themselves from Adani’s project has grown ever longer, the three Australian banks have been left as the only ones left standing in the limelight.

The question now is how long it will be before ANZ, Westpac and NAB acknowledge the community opposition to Adani’s project, the lack of viability of the project and the existence of cleaner energy alternatives. The sooner that ANZ, Westpac and NAB politely but firmly tell Adani that they won’t support their project the better it will be for involved.

Julien Vincent is the lead campaigner with Market Forces, an Australian group campaigning to ensure banks and other financial institutions use their funds to protect – not damage – the environment.