Asia Minute: Coal Project Faces Uncertain Future in Australia

Aug 6, 2015

Credit oatsy40 / Flickr

An Australian court has overturned government plans for one of the world’s biggest coal mines.  That decision has led to other developments that have put the future of the project into doubt.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Plans for Australia’s biggest coal mine could be in trouble.  The Yakka Skink and the Ornamental Snake are creatures found only in Queensland State…the planned site of the nearly 12-billion dollar project.  Australia’s Federal Court found the Environment Minister had not “properly considered advice” about impacts on the two species.  While supporters of the project call that a “technical detail,” a larger issue involves financing.  The coal mine is backed by the Adani Group…an Indian multinational conglomerate interested in shipping coal to India.

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank has now pulled out of its role as financial adviser to the project, threatening the entire plan.  The federal government approved the mine project a year ago, along with a rail link to an ocean port just off the Great Barrier Reef.

Environmentalists have opposed the project, warning of potential pollution from central Queensland to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef itself.  Analysts say business conditions have also changed for the worse over the five years since the plan was introduced.  Australia’s commodity boom has crashed as prices have fallen, and the long-term demand for coal as an energy source remains uncertain.