Indigenous rights and the Adani Project

As a part of my work on the Adani mine-rail-port project, I’ve been providing economic input to a project with Kristen Lyons and Morgan Brigg at UQ aimed at supporting the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J) in their attempts to assert control over their traditional land. So far we’ve produced an initial report, a summary of which has appeared in The Conversation.

My general aim in this work is to examine more sustainable economic models than coal mining for both indigenous and non-indigenous people in the North Queensland region. More on this soon, I hope.

5 thoughts on “Indigenous rights and the Adani Project

  1. Not off-topic: the opposition in South Africa to the exceptionally shady nuclear deal with Russia made with Rosneft by Zuma’s government in 2014 has won a clear victory in the Western Cape High Court. The argument was due process not environmental concerns. Report here at Craig Morris’ blog by SA journalist LĂ©onie Joubert.

    It’s not clear if the government can appeal the decision. But Zuma’s political position has been gravely weakened by accusations of corruption, including on the nuclear deal. If the ruling stands, Eskom will apparently have to start the administrative process all over again. In the three intervening years, the prices of wind and both sorts of solar (including despatchable CSP) have fallen substantially, and in a wide range of countries bracketing South Africa in state of development: Chile, Mexico, India, Vietnam, the Gulf states … It’s very hard to see how a halfway honest analysis could now come down on the side of Russian nuclear.

  2. Slightly OT update on Indian coal imports at the Guardian. Goyal has recognised that India can’t stop coal imports entirely because a lot of generating capacity has been built to run on higher-quality imports. This will come as a relief to existing Australian coal exporters. But it does not help Adani at Carmichael. First, because that needs an increase in Indian imports, not level pegging. Second, because Carmichael coal is low-quality, high-ash stuff similar to Indian domestic production.

    Remember that Goyal is a politician and his statements should not be taken at face value. He is reassuring the owners of existing coastal generating plants (including Adani) that he’s not going to force their closure by stopping imports any time soon. But is it really impracticable to refit boilers to burn higher-ash domestic coal? And what happens in five years’ time when the 48 GW of coal plants under construction are all on line and there turns out to be a glut of coal capacity? The coastal plants based on imports will be at the head of the early closure queue.

  3. It’s not very practical for Indian coal power stations made to burn imported coal to change over to domestic coal. Sure, they could just shove domestic coal in there, or blend it with imported coal, but that means a reduction in efficiency as more coal has to be shoved in get the same amount of heat and there can be corrosion problems from an increased amount of water and also elements in the domestic coal that can contribute to corrosion that the boilers are not designed to handle.

    A major change to the coal blend generally requires bigly changes that are a yuge expense. An expense that is likely not to be worthwhile in these days of declining renewable energy prices.

    And there are other problems.

    Air quality in many large Indian cities is often at the edge of a situation such as the London inversion of 1952. Making it worse by burning domestic coal could be the straw that causes a camel’s lungs to collapse to the size of a blackened fist.

    If a power station has anti-pollution equipment, that’s not designed for the domestic coal it’s not going to be able to handle it and will need to be rebuilt.

    Reliability is a factor. Seaborne coal arrives quite reliably and arrives when Indian coal does not. Coal deliveries in India are often interrupted by monsoons and other events. Being able to supply power when power stations using domestic coal are forced to cut back is a major advantage.

    Domestic coal tends to be expensive. Why spend money building new mines which will probably be useless in a few years due to declining costs of renewable energy when idiots overseas are willing to invest huge amounts of money into infrastructure for a dying (and killing) industry? Seaborne coal prices are on their way down again and clearly Australia is going to be flooding the market as their black coal power stations shut down permanently.

  4. I looked into the coal quality issue a bit. Carmichael coal would be at 26% ash content, almost twice the Australian export average. It’s towards the lower end of the Indian domestic range of 20%-40% ash. Source: Chandra, 2004. It seems to me that Goyal was going out of his way to make it clear that Carmichael coal will not find a market in India, as it competes technically with domestic coal not imports. Coal India wants to shut down 65 of its highest-cost deep mines, so there really isn’t a supply issue any more.

    Adani no longer deserve the presumption of acting in good faith.

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