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Protests were held across Australia against mining giant Adani’s proposed $16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine project, which has been delayed for years over environmental and financing issues. Environment groups say the mine in Queensland would contribute to global warming and damage the Great Barrier Reef.
The ‘Stop Adani’ movement organised 45 protests. On the sands of Sydney’s Bondi Beach more than 1,000 people formed a human sign saying ‘#STOP ADANI’, said organiser Blair Palese from activist group 350.
“I think there’s a real national concern that goes beyond Queensland about the idea of giving this mine a billion-dollar taxpayer-funded loan,” she said.
The national rallies come as new polling shows more than half of Australians oppose the mine, reported local media. Analysts have raised doubts about whether Adani can fund the mine, at an initial cost of $4 billion, given a backlash to investment in fossil fuels.
Adani said the project would pay billions of dollars in royalties and taxes, create jobs and export coal to India help bring electricity to rural regions.
On Saturday, rallies were held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in North Queensland where thousands of protesters took to streets as part of a National Day of Action.
A campaigner Isaac Astill called the construction of the mine an international issue. “It’s going to be the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere at a time when our climate is crumbling,” Astill said. “It’s an international issue and that’s why we’re seeing people around the world and in Australia coming out in thousands to say no to Adani.”
Australian Conservation Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kelly O’Shanassy said she hoped the “big day of action” would send a strong message that taxpayers did not want their money subsidising the project. “It will affect every single living thing on Earth, that’s why people in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Cairns care about this mine not going ahead,” O’Shanassy said.
Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said that the firm was committed to creating jobs in Australia and there was large support for the project in regional Australia. “We are focussed… the project is needed in the community and we have their whole support,” he said. He said the anti-mine protests did not reflect the correct picture of how the project was being received regionally by the local community. “Adani is very focused to get jobs started in the next few week. There is a large support for the project in regional Australia,” he said.
He, however, said there was a loud minority voice against the project. Adani has been counting on a $704 million loan from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility for a rail link to the proposed mine. Janakaraj, however, has said Adani may not have to borrow from NAIF. “If the commercial banks take off all the debt then we will not have any need for NAIF as there will be no gap.”
Janakaraj confirmed that the early works would start in next few weeks as the company was well in advance in starting the works.
Of dissent and assent
- Environment groups say the mine in Carmichael would contribute to global warming and damage the Great Barrier Reef
- Adani says the project would pay billions of dollars in royalties and taxes, create jobs, export coal to India and help bring electricity to rural regions
- Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj says the protests do not reflect the correct picture of how the project was being received by the local community