Australian news, and some related international items

Adani coal railway line plan in breach of Australian government policy

Adani mine railway loan would breach government’s policy, says legal group
Complaint lodged over prospect of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility partially funding 400km rail line, Guardian, 
, 6 Apr 17, A $1bn federal loan to builders of a railway line between the proposed Adani coalmine and the coast would be a direct breach of government policy, a legal group has claimed.

Environmental Justice Australia has lodged a formal complaint with the Productivity Commission over the prospect of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility partially funding the 400km rail line.

It is believed two companies – an Adani-related entity and the rail company Aurizon – have made rival bids for $1bn in government loans.

But EJA said government funding of the line would be a clear breach of competitive neutrality principles and potentially against the criteria of the “developing the north” white paper.

Competitive neutrality principles require governments not to use their legislative or fiscal powers “to advantage their own businesses over the private sector”, according to government agreements.

 “We submit that for the Adani and Aurizon proposals there is no ‘market failure’ and Naif support would encroach upon the domain of the private sector in breach of competitive neutrality principles,” said the complaint, filed on behalf of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“We also submit that the Naif is non-transparent, ineffective, inefficient and has an inadequate governing framework.”

EJA based its complaint on a report by the Productivity Commission into the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation in 2012. It said said the commission found Efic should cease supporting onshore resource projects and related infrastructure because the private sector was already active in that market.

It also suggested the framework of Efic and Naif were similar, in that it had a “market gap” not “market failure” mandate……

Naif’s mandatory criteria also includes the requirement that the funded project be of benefit to the public and “serve or have the capacity to serve multiple users”.

While Adani’s proposal for the rail line is believed to be for its sole use transporting coal between the Carmichael mine in the Galilee basin and the coastline for export, Aurizon’s has reportedly scoped for a multi-use line – albeit with Adani as the sole operator initially.

Barnden said this did not affect the group’s complaint, and suggested Aurizon would have difficulty justifying a proposal for a multi-user line because the Abbot Point terminal on the coast only had capacity for Carmichael.

“I think we’re reasonably confident that the commission will make findings which would lead to recommendations to the minister to not finance or not provide financial support to large private infrastructure projects in Australia.”…..

April 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Adani’s Carmichael coal mine is environmentally reckless and contrary to today’s energy markets
~ Julien Vincent executive director of Market Forces  6 April 2017:

“If at first you don’t stack up economically, make the public pay for it.”

“This could be the mantra that delivers Adani’s Carmichael mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin
at the expense of the environment, culture, our prospects of a stable climate and in defiance of sound economics. …

“Since buying the coal tenements from Linc Energy in 2010, Adani has failed to secure a single private backer for the Carmichael mine.

“In fact, since then, 17 banks have either publicly distanced themselves from Galilee Basin
coal export projects or introduced policies that prevent them lending to the Carmichael mine. …

“In an industry where sentiment and market signals have a huge impact, leadership from private banks like Westpac can do more than just prevent a project like Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, and its impacts on people, the environment and climate.  It can help prevent Australians for having to pay for the privilege.”

April 7, 2017 Posted by | business, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Controversial Wallarah 2 Coal Mine allowed to resubmit an amended planning application, New South Wales

You Might Think You’ve Never Heard Of The Wallarah 2 Coal Mine, But You Have, New Matilda,  By  on April 5, 2017 The more things change, like heads of government, the more they stay the same. Rod Campbell explains.

Today, the New South Wales Planning and Assessment Commission will conduct a hearing about the hugely controversial Wallarah 2 coal mine near Wyong. Ringing any bells? It should.

Remember Barry O’Farrell? The NSW premier who resigned after a scandal linked to a bottle of wine?

Barry’s gone now, but Wallarah was tied up in a lot of his problems, and has proven much harder to get rid of.

The Wallarah 2 coal project is near Wyong on the Central Coast of NSW. It’s been around as a proposal since the mid 1990s. For a while BHP Billiton owned part of it but sold because, according to locals, they realised it was technically and politically risky to mine around the drinking water catchments and aquifers of the Central Coast.

That was also the reason O’Farrell, as opposition leader, promised to stop the mine, famously wearing a “Water not Coal” t-shirt on a trip to the area.

O’Farrell broke that promise once he came to office as premier. Why? We will probably never know for sure, but it has been suggested that lobbying was involved. Nick Di Girolamo, the lobbyist who sent the premier the infamous bottle of winealso worked for Wallarah 2’s owners, Kores which is owned by the Korean government.

Anyway, Barry’s gone, Nick’s gone, the wine has probably been drunk, but Kores and the mine proposal are still here.

And why would you go away when the NSW government is prepared to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the owners of controversial coal proposals, if you just hang around for long enough? They’ve just paid BHP $220 million to not mine in the Liverpool Plains further west.

With the coal boom well and truly over, it is unlikely that Kores would actually spend the $1.5 billion dollars needed to build the Wallarah 2 mine. It’s relatively small, and deep underground in environmentally and politically sensitive country. You can buy an existing coal mine for a fraction of that amount at the moment, with mines changing hands for between $1 and a couple of hundred million, so the Wallarah mine probably isn’t financially viable.

However, the words “unviable” and “mine” are just not words that the NSW Planning Department ever puts together. They have put on display an economic assessment commissioned by Kores which claims the project has net benefits of $774 million, at least $274 million of which would accrue to the NSW community (page 44-46).

A few things in this economic assessment should have been picked up by Planning……….

So to conclude, a hugely controversial mine, linked to the downfall of a premier and opposed by locals, is allowed to resubmit an amended planning application after it was beaten in court by the local Indigenous people. It is reassessed by economists who were found to be “not credible” by the PAC last time, but have once again miraculously found hundreds of millions in benefits.

O’Farrell wasn’t able to keep his promises to the Central Coast. It takes communities made of sterner stuff to take on such a flawed system and the people behind it.

Fortunately, there’s some pretty tough types living on the Central Coast and they’re not going anywhere.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment