Tag Archives: Australia

Adani’s Australian Coal Mine in Trouble as Chinese Banks Refuse Loans

Image Courtesy: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

The proposed $22 billion project will have destructive impact on environment, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Newsclick | 6 December 2017

With three Chinese banks announcing that they will not be financing Adani group’s controversial Carmichael mine in Queensland, Australia, the mining giant’s ambitious project – worth $21.7 billion – appears to be doomed. Earlier this year, Australian banks had backed out of financing the project. Adani Mining is facing a financial crunch as 24 banks around the world have earlier refused to finance its mining ventures in Australia.

Adani’s extravagant expansion into Australian mining seems to be dogged by accusations of crony capitalism and destruction of environment, very similar to the ones in India for his Mundra SEZ project and mining activities. The opposition in Australia however has taken on a much more widespread scale.

Recently, Australian journalists who visited Mundra in Gujarat to study Adani Group’s activities were harassed by local police, presumably at the behest of powers that be.

The Carmichael mine has drawn the ire of Australians ever since Adani bought it in 2010. A recent survey showed that 62% people in Queensland opposed the Adani mine. There have been a series of protests in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and at Adani’s work sites near Belyando in Central Queensland. Such was the pressure built by public opinion that Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reversed the government’s previous position and pledged to veto a loan to Adani if re-elected. In March this year, 13 NGOs came together to form the Stop Adani Alliance which organized a National Day of Action on October 7. During November 20 and 24, a Stop Adani Shakeup week was observed to pressurize federal MPs into opposing the mine. All over Queensland, and even elsewhere, anti-Adani T-shirts, badges, caps and other protest markers can be seen on people.

Adani group has reportedly faced a series of regulatory actions in India for its riding roughshod over environmental and other laws. It has also been alleged that its explosive growth is largely due to Gautam Adani’s closeness to Prime Minister Modi since the latter’s stint as Gujarat Chief Minister. Recently, Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s investigation on its well known Four Corners programme, unearthed various dealings of Adani Mining through secret tax haven accounts in Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The Galilee basin, where the giant mine, projected to be one of the world’s largest, is located contains an estimated 7.8 billion tonnes of coal. Adani group has claimed that the mine will have peak production of 60 million tonnes of coal per year by 2022. The company has acquired Abbot Point coal terminal near Mackay for $1.98 billion from the Queensland government and plans to build a 388 kilometer rail link from the mine to the port. The company is awaiting a concessional A$900 million loan from the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for the rail link.

The most significant reason why most Australians are opposed to the mine is its environmental impact. The mine is estimated to generate 4.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. It will also use 26 million litres of water every day severely depleting the groundwater in this drought prone region. The Great Barrier Reef, already under threat from warming of the oceans and their acidification, will also be affected by the mining activity. The project involves dredging of 1.1 million cubic meters of seabed from near the Reef.Experts have vigorously argued that this will have an adverse impact on the delicate ecosystem that sustains the Reef.

Adani Australia have argued that an estimated 10,000 jobs will be created in Queensland, which is currently suffering from severe unemployment. This claim has been supported even by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. However, Jerome Fahrer, an economist who appeared on behalf of Adani Mining before the Queensland land court, testified in 2015 that the project would create precisely 1,464 jobs.

The land where the mine is planned to be built belongs to the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional or indigenous people, and is part of 30,000 sq.kms land area for which they have filed a ‘native title claim’ in 2004. The W&J peoples have launched a long and complicated legal battle to oppose the Carmichael mine, and hearing is scheduled for March 2018.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights

Australian govt using ‘aid’ money to promote their mining industry

Bruce Davis, left, and Fred Hess signing a memorandum of understanding at Frieda River last week. Looking on are East Sepik Province Governor Allan Bird, Ambunti-Drekkir MP Johnson Wapunai, Vice Mines Minister Bari Palme, women’s mentor, Fredah Wantum along with women from Paupe village and PanAust employees

Approval processes for any Frieda river mine have not yet been completed – but the Australian government is already spending ‘aid’ money to help ensure the mine does go ahead.

PANAUST, the beneficiary of this ‘aid’ subsidy, is, of course, an Australian company…

Long-term plan for women at Frieda River

PANAUST and the Australian government are working together to empower women through the Frieda River copper-gold project under a new initiative called the Papua New Guinean Women in Mining Project.

In terms of an agreement signed at Frieda River last week, the partners say a three-year work program will strengthen the participation of women in the development forum process and ensure women receive lasting benefits over the life of the mine and beyond.

“The project will provide a mentor to work with women from the Frieda River area to prepare them for participation in the development forum and help organise their governance and representative structures. Selected Frieda River employees will become women’s empowerment and safety champions,” PanAust said.

The partners will also work to build literacy skills, and promote cooperative approaches to decision-making, workloads and budgeting, leadership and coalition building.

At the signing PanAust managing director Fred Hess emphasised the role mining could play in supporting women.

“Mining, perhaps more than any other industry, has the ability to empower women in remote communities. At PanAust, we consider it our responsibility to encourage that development. At our operations in Laos, we have provided pathways for women to acquire trades, become leaders in the company and start small businesses. Our partnership with the Australian government will help us emulate this success in Papua New Guinea,” Hess said.

Australian high commissioner Bruce Davis said Australia was taking part to strengthen women’s participation in resource development negotiations.

“We will help build literacy and financial skills, as well as support women to take on leadership and decision-making roles in the development negotiations, to ensure they directly benefit from mining activities in the region,” Davis said.

1 Comment

Filed under Australia, Environmental impact, Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Pacific Islanders call for Australia not to fund Adani coalmine

The village of Eita in Kiribati in 2015. Residents of endangered Pacific islands want the Australian government to stop funding Adani’s Carmichael coalmine. Photograph: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Caritas says thousands face threats to their wellbeing, livelihoods and ‘their very existence’ due to rising sea levels

Naaman Zhou | The Guardian | 31 October 2017 

Pacific Islanders whose homes face eradication by rising sea levels have called on Australia to not fund the Adani Carmichael coalmine, as a new report reveals the worsening impact of climate change across Oceania.

Residents of the endangered islands have described their forced displacement as like “having your heart ripped out of your chest” as they called on the Australian government to do more to combat climate change.

A report released by international aid group Caritas on Wednesday found that thousands of Pacific people across the region faced “threats to their wellbeing, livelihoods and, in some places, their very existence” due to rising sea levels, king tides and natural disasters brought about by climate change.

In Papua New Guinea, 2,000 households across 35 coastal communities were displaced by coastal erosion over the past year. In Samoa, 60% of the village of Solosolo was relocated to higher ground.

In the Torres Strait, 15 island communities were identified as at risk over the next 50 years.

The mayor of the Torres Straight Island regional council, Fred Gela, described the forcible removals as like having your heart ripped out “because you are told you’re not able to live on your land”.

Erietera Arama resident of Kiribati who works for the Department of Fisheries, said he decided to visit Australia to ask its government to take action.

“We talk about the Adani coalmine,” he said. “That’s a new one. I think it’s not a good idea – it makes the world worse for all of us. It is inconsiderate of other humans on this planet.

“We didn’t think of Australia as a country that would do that. We looked at it as our bigger brother. Proceeding with that new mine is a sad move. We live together in the environment but it’s like they are ignoring us.

“We’re two metres above sea level. With the sea level rise, most of our lands have been taken by coastal erosion. We love our country and we want our children to live there as well, hopefully forever. It’s hard to talk about leaving the place where you belong.”

According to the report’s authors, the impact of coastal erosion and flooding reached “severe” levels in 2016, upgraded from “high” the year before. Climate change also made it “increasingly difficult to maintain the health and integrity” of food and water sources. Water scarcity was deemed a “serious slow-onset problem throughout Oceania”.

In terms of natural disasters, a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours in New Caledonia in November 2016, killing nine people, while flash flooding in Fiji after Cyclone Winston forced 3,000 people into evacuation centres in December 2016.

In Fiji, the report found that certain types of fish were becoming poisonous, potentially as a result of farming contamination or seabed mining operations.

“Earlier this year four people died in the island of Gau from fish poisoning,” said Leo Nainoka from the country’s social empowerment education program.

Global sea levels are expected to rise 30cm by 2050 compared with a 20cm average rise over the 100 years before 2000. But in certain areas of the tropical western Pacific, sea level rise has been four times the global average due to El Nino and associated weather effects.

“Australia needs to make a stronger contribution to fight climate change and its impacts,” the report says. “To reach our emissions reductions targets, Australian policies need to rule out any major new fossil fuel projects or the expansion of existing ones, as this would be inherently incompatible with meeting our global climate commitments.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Environmental impact, Human rights, Pacific region

AusAID to partner with mining industry to deliver ‘aid’

Peter Aitsi and Bruce Davis can’t keep a straight face – just one more way for the Australian taxpayers to subsidise their mining industry!

THIS WOULD BE HILARIOUS IF IT WASN’T SO PATHETIC

EVEN MONTY PYTHON COULDN’T COME UP WITH ANYTHING SO RIDICULOUS…

Aust to assist Newcrest facilitate projects in PNG

The National | September 1, 2017

AUSTRALIA has entered into a partnership with Newcrest Mining Limited to facilitate support on projects in Papua New Guinea.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis and Newcrest country manager Peter Aitsi signed an agreement yesterday.
The first year will be committed to:

  • Scholarships for Diploma of Nursing;
  • Australian awards scholarships in midwifery;
  •  Workshops on extractive Industries transparency initiative;  and,
  •  A mineral economics course to be delivered under the Pacific leadership and governance precinct.

Davis said it reflected Australia’s focus on engaging businesses to assist in development challenges.
“The approach recognises that the private sector has the means and increasingly the motivation to contribute to the development outcomes as part of their core business,” Davis said.
“It also recognises that the private sector are key players in addressing and improving the business environment, not just for themselves but also for their suppliers, buyers, employees and their employee’s families.
“Newcrest is on such company. Newcrest’s confidence in Papua New Guinea as an investment destination matches the Australian High Commission’s positive long-term outlook for Papua New Guinea.”
Aitsi said the company’s commitment to development was for the long-term.
“Newcrest already has a long record of engagement in PNG. And with 40 per cent of our global assets in this country, we hope to be a partner to Papua New Guinea for decades to come,” he said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Papua New Guinea

How resource companies exploit a corrupt and dysfunctional government

There has been a barrage of media recently about mining companies teaming up with a range of parters to deliver health-care and other services direct to the community.

Newcrest Mining and the Australian government have announced a partnership to improve maternal health, Exxon-Mobil is partnering the Cancer Foundation and The Voice, Barrick Gold is delivering agriculture training in Porgera.

Praise be to the resource companies, willing and able to step in where government fails its people – and no matter the role these same companies play in causing the very diseases, illnesses and other problems they are so happy to patch up with their band-aid PR!

But there is an even more sinister side to these good news stories that further illustrates how mining and other resource companies feed off a corrupt and dysfunctional government.

If government was doing its job and delivering decent basic services to the population, mining and resource companies would not have the opportunity to appear as ‘knights in shining armour’ the good news stories would disappear and, most importantly, customary landowners would not feel compelled to give away their land in the desperate hope that mining and logging companies might provide some basic services.

Resource companies are able to thrive in PNG because of, not despite, a corrupt and dysfunctional government. They rely on bad governance to open the doors to what they most desire – land and the resources it contains.

No matter the environmental and community destruction, their logging and mining cause, no matter the deaths, the violence against women, the unwanted pregnancies, the rape and prostitution, the pollution of rivers and loss of sustainable livelihoods when they can parade their social conscience in the media and have us all believe they are our saviours – just as long as we continue to give them what is most precious to us, OUR LAND!

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Spotlight on Australian govt financing role in LNG Project

“So the Australian tax payer’s getting paid and the population of PNG is not”

Radio New Zealand | 13 June, 2017

The Australian government’s Export Finance Insurance Corporation has been questioned in the senate about its role in Papua New Guinea’s LNG Project.

EFIC’s US$350 million loan to the PNG LNG Project was the biggest ever foreign loan made by Australia’s government.

There’s been particular scrutiny applied to EFIC’s response to the non-payment of royalties to LNG Project landowners.

PNG’s LNG Project, lead operated by ExxonMobil, has been successfully shipping annual exports worth billions of dollars since 2014.

However landowners in the project area say they have not been paid royalties promised them under the project’s founding agreement, estimated to total US$300 million.

Western Australia’s Senator Scott Ludlam took EFIC to task over why it had not taken measures to ensure payments were made.

“So I understand that, May 2017, the 300th shipment of LNG left Port Moresby, but the payment of royalties owed to landowners under benefit sharing arrangements hasn’t even begun,” he said.

EFIC’s director of environmental and technical review, Jan Parsons, told the senator royalties were not its responsibility.

“It’s the benefits, the royalties as you say, which only started flowing after LNG gas started being exported.”

“That is the part which is managed by the government, and the project has no role in that, legally or morally, if you like,” he said.

“And my understanding of the problem that’s holding up the distribution of those payments is identifying the actual people who should be receiving the payments.”

Senator Ludlam sensed EFIC was trying to distance itself from its project obligations, by identifying royalties as strictly a government matter.

“It’s easy to say that it’s not a project matter. But landholders have been dispossessed. They’ve been told that they’d be paid out.”

“There’s an amount of benefits which I understand is in the range of 400 million Australian dollars which hasn’t actually hit the ground. And this thing is busy exporting PNG LNG over the horizon.”

According to PNG’s Treasurer for the past three years, Patrick Pruaitch, the identification process Mr Parsons referred to, or clan vetting, should have been completed well before the first LNG shipment left PNG’s shores.

Mr Pruaitch admitted the Peter O’Neill-led government, of which he had been a key member until recent weeks, had failed to resolve this issue.

Jan Parsons would only offer that the Project was trying to help the government in identifying the landowners who should receive the royalties

“And in speeding up the payments, because it’s in the Project’s interests. But that’s something the project is doing, not as a legal matter, but being a good neighbour, if you like.”

Senator Ludlum mentioned reports of an arms build-up and escalating tensions among landowners in the region where LNG Project’s well heads are based, the Highlands province of Hela.

“When does the Commonwealth start to get its money back?

EFIC”s chief credit officer John Pacey stepped in to answer the question

“Repayments have already commenced.”

“So the Australian tax payer’s getting paid and the population of PNG is not. That seems a little peverse,” Mr Pacey said. 

“What are the risks to Australia being repaid if we end up with another Bougainville on our hands through civil unrest, armed or otherwise, in the impact area where people are likely pretty pissed off that they’re 400 million dollars short of the royalties that they’re owed?”

Export Finance Insurance Corporation wouldn’t be drawn on impacts of a “hypothetical” situation, telling the senator it had evaluated risks of the project, but not specifically about the potential for armed conflict in relation to the project.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Fiji: Mining Work Ceased, 500 Workers Sent Home

Fiji Sun | April 20, 2017

A recent death and a series of accidents have forced the closure of all underground operations at the Vatukoula Gold Mines.

The closure has seen about 500 underground workers sent home, pending the outcome of a safety audit.

A team of mine inspectors from the Department of Mineral Resources are conducting their investigations and checks of all shafts at the mines.

This was confirmed by the Director Mineral Resources, Raijieli Taga yesterday.

“Yes the closure is temporary and it is being done for safety reasons,” Ms Taga said.

She confirmed that a recent death and injuries to workers below the surface was the main contributing factor towards the temporary closure.

The latest death at the mines occurred on April 5 when a shaft supervisor was killed after two rocks, believed to have been loosened by an explosion, fell on him.

Tekiata Teuongo Teirei, 51, was believed to have died after the rocks crashed on his back, smashing his backbone and spinal cord.

He was on the afternoon shift, which was from 3pm – 11pm and was about to finish work, when the alleged incident happened at the Smith’s Shaft, which is about 1700ft below the surface.

Ms Taga said the mine inspectors were investigating the safety aspects of the mine and  the police were also included because of the death of Mr Teirei.

“I cannot confirm as to how long the investigations will take and what will happen after that,” she said.

“However, the findings of the mine inspectors will be tabled before a board of inquiry where a decision would be made.”

Ms Taga said all shafts would undergo the safety audit.

As for the underground workers being sent home, Ms Taga said she believed they would be on full salary.

From the era of the Emperor Gold Mines Ltd until the present day, it is believed that this was the first time that all underground operations were closed for a safety audit.

Queries through e-mail and phone calls to VGML’s Corporate Services manager, Dinny Laufenboeck, were unsuccessful.

2 Comments

Filed under Fiji, Human rights