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Adani: trouble on all fronts

June 30th, 2017

My latest report: The Economic (non)viability of the Adani Galilee Basin Project

and, news that Adani is blending more domestic coal in the fuel for its Indian power plants to cut costs. That makes high-ash Carmichael coal even less appealing.

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  1. July 1st, 2017 at 01:03 | #1

    What is the new capital requirement of the mine and rail line? On pages 6-7 of the paper, JQ gives it at $3.3 bn. Later (Appendix) he cites IEEFA’s estimate of $5.3 bn.

    The page 3 sentence equates the new funding requirement with an equity charge on Adani. This assumes no commercial bank lending will be forthcoming from anybody. This is argued later, but the cross-reference is missing.

    The Indian press report adds the picturesque detail that both Adani and Tata have offered to sell majority equity stakes in their separate Mundra plants for 1 rupee each. “Stranding” is far too genteel an image for the Pearl Harbor destruction of value in coal going on today.

    Tell me, Senator Canavan: if a 4 GW power station in India, designed to burn imported coal, is worth 1 rupee (with a pair going at that price), how many rupees is a new Australian mine targeting the same market worth? Wouldn’t Adani’s Mundra (Tata’ is designed for lignite) be a good investment for the appropriately named NAIF?

    Commenters please don’t blame me if Canavan takes up the idea.

  2. Magma
    July 1st, 2017 at 01:06 | #2

    It’s such a tragedy that environmentally ruinous projects such as this — destructive at both ends — are crashing to the ground under the weight of their own economic weaknesses. I’ll drown my sorrows over a pint or two this weekend, and try to hide my tears somehow.

    I wonder if the spate of proposed new and expanded pipelines in North America, and the proposed/planned LNG plants there and elsewhere will experience similar pressures and likely fates?

  3. Magma
    July 1st, 2017 at 01:07 | #3

    @Magma
    A very nice, very readable short paper on the Carmichael project, by the way.

  4. ChrisH
    July 1st, 2017 at 07:39 | #4

    Note that one of the oil-from-shale pipelines from Canada has just suspended work due to economics – no assured demand for its transport of oil.

  5. Ikonoclast
    July 1st, 2017 at 10:12 | #5

    Quote

    “However, it suggests the importance of developments within India. The importance of the
    Indian market is enhanced by political rhetoric suggesting that the availability of coal imports
    will be crucial in providing access to electricity to hundreds of people who currently lack it.”

    Was that meant to be “hundreds of thousands of people”? Probably too late for a correction. Typos, they get us all.

  6. rog
    July 1st, 2017 at 10:32 | #6

    This is from a few years ago but may help to explain Adani’s relaxed and confident attitude

    “Crony capitalism should not be there. I definitely agree with that. But how you define crony capitalism is another issue,”

    …If you are, basically, working closely with the government, that doesn’t mean it’s crony capitalism,”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-india-election-adani-idUKBREA390VR20140410

  7. Ikonoclast
    July 1st, 2017 at 10:55 | #7

    Under late stage capitalism, capitalism equals crony capitalism, at least for large enterprises. I mean TNCs (trans-national corporations), conglomerates, monopolies, oligopolies, cartels and the like.

    Late stage capitalism continues to financialize capital, concentrate capital ownership and increase the capture of supposedly representative democratic government by capital interests.

    We, the people, the lower 99%, are in a lot of trouble as ordinary and relatively powerless citizens under this system. The system itself is in a lot of trouble and heading to a terminal crisis which can only end in the overthrow of this order for a better one, genuine democratic socialism, or a collapse in barbarism and environmental catastrophe. We have to change this system or lose our civilization and environment as nurturing, livable spheres of existence.

    We must change the system or watch it collapse. This system is unsustainable with critical and terminal internal (political economy) and external (environmental) contradictions.

  8. Simon Fowler
    July 1st, 2017 at 20:52 | #8

    Ikonoclast :
    We, the people, the lower 99%, are in a lot of trouble as ordinary and relatively powerless citizens under this system. The system itself is in a lot of trouble and heading to a terminal crisis which can only end in the overthrow of this order for a better one, genuine democratic socialism, or a collapse in barbarism and environmental catastrophe. We have to change this system or lose our civilization and environment as nurturing, livable spheres of existence.

    I admire your optimism. I think when systems are being overthrown there’s no guarantee that the result will be a “better” one, by /any/ measure you choose to pick, or even as simple a binary choice as you’ve presented – I think the results will be as close to random chance as makes no difference.

    I would /hope/ that in an era of such self-conciousness and with a historically unrivalled ability for broad contribution to political discourse the results of a revolution might be more weighted towards genuine democratic socialism, but I think the ascent of Trump is a good indication of the systemic limitations of our current social and technological regime.

    We must change the system or watch it collapse. This system is unsustainable with critical and terminal internal (political economy) and external (environmental) contradictions.

    This is hard to argue with, though.

  9. Ikonoclast
    July 2nd, 2017 at 09:37 | #9

    @Simon Fowler

    Thanks for the insightful comments. I did write of “genuine democratic socialism, or a collapse into barbarism and environmental catastrophe.” I do apprehend both (category) possibilities and of course barbarism, anarchy etc. could be any of a thousand varieties and variants so this leaves open the many possibilities you talked about. The exact form of democratic socialism is open too and will be technologically and materially molded with feedbacks both ways as these factors interact with human biology and human agency.

    On the matter of categories, some categories may be binary. We create categories in an attempt to understand the world. Possibilities within these categories may be boundless. Hopefully, our categories are empirically based and pragmatically useful and not simply arbitrary.

    Historical moral advances hold out hope that we may make more advances. State-sanctioned slavery has been abolished or largely so. This was a great advance notwithstanding the fact that other forms of slavery still exist. Rather than a “moral slippery slope” existing (where we decline from some golden age – and how was that attained?), it seems a moral ramp exists which we can slowly climb up over the centuries. I haven’t given up on true socialism yet. How that “moral ramp” might exist or be made and be made operative is outside this topic of course.

    But the trend away from monopolisable fossil fuels – existing in natural and hard to access “fuel dumps” – and a movement to ubiquitous sunlight, easy for all to access as an energy source, may have an intrinsic socialism-favouring element to it. The air and the sunlight may be the one commons which all people resist the enclosure of by “owners”, by capitalists. The movement to becoming “prosumers”, “producer-consumers” would appear to be a socialism-favouring development.

  10. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    July 2nd, 2017 at 13:34 | #10

    very interesting paper John.

    One would have to assume the Government departments have done something similar for the government so the question is why finance this white elephant?

  11. Ikonoclast
    July 2nd, 2017 at 14:20 | #11

    @I am and will always be Not Trampis

    Q. “Why finance this white elephant?”

    A. One can only surmise that there is a corrupt connection of political donations for influence and favourable decisions from coal mining magnates to Qld and Federal political parties potentially capable of forming governments, singly or in coalition. Occam’s razor suggests this as the simplest, obvious hypothesis.

    It works well for the parties concerned and at the cost of ordinary taxpayers (not the rich of course, who scarcely ever pay any taxes).

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