By Lisa Cox
September 13, 2018 - Indian coal company Adani has ditched plans to build a new rail line in Australia from Abbot Point to get coal out of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, opting for a cut-price solution using existing lines.
The company 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 proposal will make use of the existing Aurizon rail infrastructure that runs to Abbot Point. A new narrow-gauge rail line of about 200 km would be constructed to connect the existing network to the Carmichael mine site, reducing the length of the track Adani would have to build by 188km, and significantly reducing the cost.
Adani’s original proposal was for a 388km standard gauge track that was expected to cost $2.3bn.
The move follows the Queensland government’s decision to veto any federal loan to support that aspect of the project.
“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’s chief executive, Lucas Dow, said in a statement on Thursday. “We’re 100% 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, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, stepped in to veto any loan for the rail project from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.
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.
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.
A spokesman for the premier said Adani’s announcement was “a matter for Adani”.
“What the company does is a matter for them,” he said.
“The premier’s consistently said that the project has to stand on its own two feet.”
Christian Slattery, stop Adani campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the announcement was a signal “the company is more serious than ever about building its climate-damaging coal mine.”
“Our elected representatives can’t keep hiding. We need them to stand beside ordinary Australians, not billionaire mining companies, and put a stop to this proposed coal mine.”