Reef saved?

Following a similar announcement last week by Lend Lease, and earlier announcements by BHP Billiton annd Rio Tinto, mining company Anglo American has withdrawn its proposal to take part in the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal. That leaves only two proposals, both from Indian companies owned by billionaire entrepreneurs reminiscent of Bond, Skase and other Australian heroes of the 1980s. Both Adani and GVK are heavily indebted conglomerates of the type that invariably emerge when money is cheap, and mostly collapse when the tap is turned off.

It’s not surprising that these companies have not yet abandoned their bids. Doing so would involve booking huge losses on their mining prospects in the Galilee Basin. But, it’s hard to believe anyone is going to lend them the billions required, not just for the port expansion, but for a 500km rail line and the mine itself. The price of coal is well below the level required to cover the costs of extraction and transport, let alone to provide a return on capital. And if Adani and GKV don’t build the rail lines, the development of the entire Basin will grind to a halt.

The end of the Abbot Point expansion and the proposals to mine the Galilee Basin would be a huge win for the Barrier Reef and the entire planet. The port expansion will involve the dredging of millions of tonnes of waste, to be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. But far more dangerous is the Galilee Basin itself, containing at least 25 billion tonnes of coal. That would produce around 50 times as much CO2 as Australia currently generates every year.

And, unsurprisingly, both Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer hold big stakes (though Rinehart wisely offloaded much of hers). So, as well as saving the Reef and the planet from some imminent threats, the abandonment of the Abbot port expansion and rail line will clip the wings of some very unappealing billionaires. Here’s hoping.

29 thoughts on “Reef saved?

  1. But far more dangerous is the Galilee Basin itself, containing at least 25 billion tonnes of coal.

    Clive reckons its 100.

  2. @Uncle Milton
    Let’s hope the greenish tinged voters of SA and Tas remember that tomorrow. That’s PUP for the Tas lower house and Palmer ‘independents’ for the SA upper house.

    If Palmer’s influence increases and he manages to scrap perhaps refund the carbon tax then dig up the Galilee Basin he will make Italy’s Berlusconi look like a babe in the woods.

  3. @Tim Macknay

    I believe it has always been the case.

    from “Experts attribute Germany’s leadership (in uptake of PV) to the clarity that gross metering provides to investors, as businesses love certainty and transparency. In our experience, based on anecdotal feedback, customers on net metering report trying to cut consumption more often than gross customers.”

    Happily for Australia the political climate is a little better.


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