Australian news, and some related international items

Wangan and Jagalingou land – ruthlessly pursued by Indian coal corporation Adani Adani

no amount of corporate black washing – including Indigenous participation plans that champion strong and effective relationships between Adani and W&J, alongside jobs and traineeships – can hide Adani’s direct and immediate part in walking over the rights of Traditional Owners.

In the third in a five part series on the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine, Kristen Lyons looks at a deal struck between the miners and the local traditional owners, and why it just adds to the smell that pervades the entire project.


The Indian industrial conglomerate, Adani Enterprises – well known for environmental damage and human rights abuses at its project sites around the world, and built upon a complex business structure with tax havens in the Cayman Islands – entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of coal tenements in the Galilee Basin, in Central Queensland.

Despite its controversial back story, some of which has only come to light since approvals were granted for its Australian project, Adani quickly rose to become a poster child for the State Government, based on promises its Carmichael mine project would deliver jobs and economic growth for regional Queensland.

Managed by its domestic arm, Adani Mining Pty Ltd, over the following years it developed a project proposal that included a coalmine, as well as rail and port infrastructure, thereby opening up the massive Galilee Basin for coal exports.

With seven years gone since acquisition of the coal tenements, and marred by substantial project downsizing, Adani is yet to start construction of its mega mine. Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Councils’ (W&J) defiant opposition to Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine has been central to this delay; opposition that has, in itself, exposed the dirty deeds Adani is willing to perpetrate against Traditional Owners who seek to defend their right to say no to a mine that would destroy their country.

This article exposes some of Adani’s deeds, including its nefarious actions in reaching an ‘agreement’ with Traditional Owners, as well as its use of an Indigenous Participation Plan and cultural heritage work as attempts to ‘blackwash’ its corporate brand, all while walking over Traditional Owners’ rights.

These tactics, alongside collusion with state and federal governments, are all part of Adani’s relentless pursuit of a land grab of Wangan and Jagalingou country. Yet the outcome of Adani’s bullying tactics has not simply failed to achieve agreement with Traditional Owners for the destruction of their country, it has also eroded the companies’ social license to operate in Australia.

W&J country is the heart of Adani’s Project

W&J are central to the unfinished story of Adani’s Carmichael mine. The coal tenements and mining leases are on part of the 30,000 square kilometres of land in Central Queensland that is included in the W&J’s native title claim, lodged in 2004.

Adani’s Carmichael mine – if it were to go ahead – would be built on Wangan and Jagalingou land.

The Adani project runs across country of four different Traditional Owner groups, including Wangan and Jagalingou country. This includes a 2,750-hectare area over which native title rights must be ‘surrendered’ to provide access to land required for critical infrastructure for mine operations (including an airstrip, workers’ village, washing plant and power).

Adani requires an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) to obtain control of this land, unencumbered by native title rights.

Despite Adani posturing the economic viability and purported benefits of its mega mine – both of which were debunked in the Queensland Land Court – alongside its promise of “trinkets” in the form of business opportunities and jobs for Traditional Owners, Adani has failed to secure a legitimate land use agreement with W&J.

Even with strong State and Federal Government backing (as detailed in our earlier article), this continues to thwart Adani.

W&J have said no, on three separate occasions at bone fide meetings of the claim group, to a registered Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani. Without Traditional Owner agreement, Adani is unable to move forward with construction on W&J Country.

Adani’s inability to progress works is made worse by on-going struggles to secure project finance; apart from the potential Australian taxpayer funded subsidy of $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a growing number of banks have distanced themselves from Adani, and from the fossil fuels industry more broadly.

For some financial institutions, Adani’s failure to secure an agreement with Traditional Owners is central in their decision to boycott funding its proposed Australian mine project.

Adani is now seeking equity investment from Chinese state-owned banks that would undercut the already exaggerated claims to creating regional Queensland and other jobs in Australia.


Adani Mining Pty Ltd.’s Controversial Approvals Track Record………

There are also growing questions about Adani’s financial viability (which we expose in detail later in this special series). Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the Australian subsidiary, shows a current debt of $1.421 billion, and it is reported as only remaining solvent via support from its Indian parent company.

In its latest financial half year reporting, Adani Mining Pty Ltd.’s profits were reported as having collapsed almost 50% year-on-year.

The Queensland Government’s once poster child has become a serious financial risk. Small businessesknow this too well, with Adani failing to pay at least 12 Central Queensland based contracting companies in recent months………

To date, Adani has been granted three mining leases by the Queensland Government – all of which are authorised by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) – and all issued without the consent of the W&J.

The third of these mining leases includes the 2750-hectare area required for the mine’s critical infrastructure, the ‘surrender’ of which is currently being contested in the courts by the W&J.

With a court hearing set for March 2018, Adani has far from cleared the approvals process, or bedded down an agreement with Traditional Owners.

It is a necessary requirement that a ‘land use agreement’ is obtained to complete the process of issuing mining leases, or the State may be left only with the option of compulsory acquisition – the forcible taking of native title rights by law.

The first ILUA, proposed to the Wangan and Jagalingou people in 2012, was unanimously rejected by the applicant………

Adani then organised a meeting in April 2016 – which it fully funded, including the provision of generous travel and accommodation expenses for attendees – at which the deal on offer from Adani was accepted, in a vote recorded at 294 in support, and 1 against.

Outspoken Aboriginal leader, Warren Mundine, heralded this as a win for Traditional Owners; who had succeeded in making a decision about their country without “meddling by special interests”. Yet ironically, while Mundine was referring to white anti-coal activists as meddling in indigenous agreements with mining companies, it was Adani that played the key hand in securing this agreement, including by bankrolling people into attending a meeting where Indigenous consent was seemingly delivered, and paying for the lawyer who worked with the block of seven to engineer the ILUA.

Yet one of the block of seven, Craig Dallen, later split with the group, robbing them of their ability to do any upfront deals with Adani by ‘controlling the numbers’, and filing affidavits in the Federal court against the ILUA, the compensation package, and the way the land deal was obtained.

In calling out Adani’s manipulation of the attendees at this meeting, W&J spokesperson Murrawah Johnson describes “Adani (as) herding our people in, they actually look like cattle”. Adani’s recruitment of meeting attendees that voted in favour of its agreement has raised serious questions about the legitimacy of many accorded entry and voting rights, including concerns that many are not Wangan and Jagalingou claimants – and this is now the subject of a trial in the Federal Court in March next year………

Anything that is promised as part of Adani’s Indigenous Participation Plan, however, as meagre as it may be, will be contingent upon reaching legitimate agreement with Traditional Owners. Yet, after seven years, Adani has failed to secure a legitimate land use agreement with Traditional Owners. Adani have neither legal or financial close for its proposed Australian project.

Adani’s impious actions as part of its attempts to secure consent from Traditional Owners has damaged its relationship with both Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians. It is difficult to see how such damage could be undone.

In the meantime, no amount of corporate black washing – including Indigenous participation plans that champion strong and effective relationships between Adani and W&J, alongside jobs and traineeships – can hide Adani’s direct and immediate part in walking over the rights of Traditional Owners.

It is through W&Js sustained resolve in the defense of their country that Adani’s dire conduct – now well known internationally – has been brought to light as also modus operandi in Australia.


November 24, 2017 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, politics, Queensland, secrets and lies

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: