Adani has ditched plans to build a new rail line to get coal out of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, opting for a cut-price solution using existing lines.
The Indian miner had planned to build a new 388km line from its controversial Carmichael mine to Abbot Point for export, but now says it will ‘instead leverage existing rail infrastructure’.
The new rail plan will be cheaper and follows the Queensland government’s decision to veto any federal loan to support that aspect of the project, it says.
‘By connecting to the existing network we can fast-track project delivery, reduce capital expenditure and deliver coal more quickly to countries in Asia,’ Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said in a statement on Thursday.
‘We’re 100 per cent committed to getting the Carmichael Project off the ground.’
The company said its Plan B solution would follow the same route, meaning existing approvals and land use agreements could be used.
During the 2017 state election campaign, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stepped in to veto any loan for the rail project from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.
Ms Palaszczuk initially said the decision was to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest after it was revealed her then-partner, Shaun Drabsch, worked on the loan application with his employer, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
She later said it was to meet a 2015 election promise not to allow any taxpayer funds to be spent on the mine.
A spokesman for the Premier said the decision to pull out of the railway was a matter for the miner.
‘It’s an investment decision by a privately-owned company,’ he said.
‘Like other private sector projects, it needs to stand on its own two feet and stack up financially and environmentally.’
The Liberal National Party says the state government’s position is unclear.
‘They approved the mine, they encouraged them to apply for the NAIF loan, and then of course … they withdrew those commitments,’ Deputy Leader Tim Mander said.
Adani is still trying to drum up the money it needs to fund the mine.
Australia’s big four banks have refused to put up money, forcing the company to look for funding overseas as environmental groups call on government to stop the project in its tracks.
‘It would guzzle our inland water at a time when more than half Queensland is in drought, accelerate the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef … and threaten irreplaceable cultural and natural sites like the Doongmabulla Springs,’ the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Christian Slattery said.