Adani faces hard road to rail
Adani is rushing ahead on its Carmichael mine plans, but may soon be forced to wait.
Adani has announced it will self-finance the Carmichael mine, after failing to find backing from other institutions, with construction to begin “imminently”.
But the company still needs a range of regulatory approvals and is yet to negotiate access for its coal trains to use the Aurizon network.
Aurizon is required by law to negotiate with Adani for 12 months after the company first applied for network access, which was in September.
This means the Indian mining giant may have to wait until September 2019 before any deal can be reached.
Reports say several established Queensland mining companies have raised firm objections to Adani being granted access, as they argue it will affect the rail network’s already limited capacity.
Adani’s involvement would also require upgrades to the Aurizon Goonyella railway, which currently does not have the capacity to serve the forecast needs.
Part of the negotiations will need to settle who pays for the upgrades.
There is also the issue of native title, with the Wangan and Jagalingou people waiting to see if their native title is extinguished to give Adani freehold ownership of the land.
Reports say the Queensland government is waiting until after an appeal by traditional owners is heard by the full bench of the federal court before it decides whether to wipe out their claim.
Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute of Energy, Economics and Financial Analysis, says the announcement that Adani will not use external finance makes him more sceptical about the Carmichael project.
“I’m actually more sceptical today than I was three months ago ... that this is a straight out wedge to create a situation where they have notionally started construction prior to the federal election knowing that some of the approvals will be reassessed once we have a new federal government,” Mr Buckley told reporters.
“This is about trying to force through a dramatically slimmed down mine, internally funded.”