One of the world’s largest engineering firms – and a key partner in Indian company Adani’s push to open up the Galilee basin in Queensland to coal mining – has confirmed it is no longer involved in the controversial project, sparking celebrations among environmental campaigners.
It’s another major blow to a proposed mining venture which has been plagued by problems, with major banks in Australia and around the world refusing to provide finance for what would be the largest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere.
American engineering firm AECOM was the lead partner engaged to design a rail line to run from the Carmichael basin to the coast, providing a way to get the coal from inland Australia to the international market. The rail-line, if built, would also open up the entire Galilee Basin to coal mining, attracting other major mining players like Gina Rinehart. But the project has faced massive opposition from Traditional Owners and environmental groups – its carbon footprint alone would unlock more emissions than small countries, such as New Zealand.
Yesterday, AECOM, an international corporation with assets worth almost $6 billion, confirmed it had “demobilised” from Adani Group’s project, joining a growing list of partners and investors who have walked away from the venture.
The deal lasted less than a year, after being signed in July 2017. Overnight, AECOM’s share price jumped 1 per cent in the wake of the news.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Jonathan Moylan – who made international headlines in 2013 after releasing a fake press release on behalf of ANZ bank announcing a withdrawal of financing for Whitehaven coal mine in the Hunter Valley of NSW – suggested the latest blow to Adani should be fatal for the Carmichael coal mine.
“This should serve as the final nail in the coffin for this environmentally and economically unsustainable project that most stakeholders have already walked away from,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Jonathan Moylan said.
“Adani Group have shown time and time again that they can’t take this slow-moving train wreck forward and should scrap it for good. The Australian people don’t want it, the banks won’t touch it and now even key partners who stand to profit handsomely are giving up on Adani.
“They’ve seen the writing on the wall and made their minds up about Adani, it’s now time for the federal government to do the same and pull its support of this marooned project.”
Moylan said the company was still scrambling to secure finance, after missing yet another deadline.
Last year Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj said financing for the project should be settled by March 2018. It led to construction firm Downer EDI’s walking away from the project. That deal was signed less than a year ago, in July 2017. By December, Downer EDI was out.
“While Adani digs its heels in and pretends all is well, they continue to make promises that they can never deliver,” Moylan said.
“Most corporations would have walked away a long time ago given the strident opposition of the Australian people and lack of finance. Adani’s one glimmer of hope was $1 billion of taxpayer money through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) but public opposition has effectively killed that off.
“Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten should now put us all out of our misery, pledge that not a cent of taxpayer money will go Adani through the Export Finance and Investment Corporation or any other vehicle, and commit to revoking… approval.”