Australian news, and some related international items

Is the Australian govt secretly planning for tax-payers to finance Adani coal mine?

Report; EFIC may finance Adani coal mine, Michael West, May 23, 2017 Is the government secretly planning to put taxpayers on the hook to build the world’s biggest new thermal coal mine? It is refusing to rule it out.

Until now, speculation has centred on a $1 billion discount loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to Indian billionaire Gautam Adani to build a rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point on the Queensland coast. This is a “cart before the horse” proposition however. There can be no rail line without a mining project, and Adani is yet to attract project finance from commercial banks to build its mine.

A new report by the Australian Conservation Foundation notes that a number of approaches were made to the Federal Government and its credit agency, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), asking whether the agency was considering supporting the Carmichael thermal coal project. Already EFIC has a team working within NAIF on project evaluation.

Detailed questions were put to Steven Ciobo, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment whose portfolio oversees EFIC, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). There was no response.

EFIC and NAIF were also contacted by this reporter who conducted an investigation for the ACF into the NAIF board. NAIF did not respond at all, EFIC directed questions to NAIF and the DFAT, both of which declined to respond. It is within EFIC’s legal framework to finance export projects – either by guaranteeing or insuring their loans – and Adani Mining, the local offshoot of an Indian conglomerate, is eligible under the EFIC legislation for government assistance.

EFIC acts at the instruction of the minister, in this case the Queenslander Stephen Ciobo. Adani Mining is registered in Australia. It is an exporter and EFIC has a track record of financing large fossil fuel projects.

The ACF report, Dirty Deeds, Done for Cheap Dirt, notes that EFIC – despite its mandate to support small and medium-sized exporters – has a track record in making sizeable investments in large fossil fuel projects.

“It is currently considering a deal to finance the 12 million tonnes per annum Boikarabelo coal mine and railway in South Africa, ironically a project closer by ship to India than Adani’s Carmichael and one that will directly compete with Australian exports in a declining Indian market for seaborne coal imports.”……..

The report also found the NAIF board is stacked with resource industry directors, past and present. Despite its mandate to invest in a wide range of infrastructure, including communications, transport, airports, water and renewable energy, the board’s expertise is heavily skewed towards mining and coal.

Its Investment Mandate is also vague and its operations are shrouded in secrecy compared with other government financiers such as EFIC and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Yet is has $5 billion of taxpayers’ money at its disposal.

The minister in charge of NAIF is Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, who is a vocal advocate for coal-fired power plants and has announced that coal projects are also eligible to be funded by NAIF…….


May 24, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies

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