Adani’s chief executive Lucas Dow is yet again claiming that the company is “ready to go” with the Carmichael mine, as soon as the government approves it. As usual, we get a picture of Adani’s fleet of heavy earthmoving equipment, consisting of one big yellow grader.
At least the journalist visiting the site shows a bit of scepticism this time, noting that Dow’s claims that he could start today, made while standing next to a 5-metre wide strip of cleared scrub, require a bit of imagination.
Just for fun, I thought I’d work out how much of Adani’s supposed $2 billion budget is being spent on this piece of theatre. From what I can see, graders like the one in the picture can be hired for $1-2000 a day, which would give a total of at most $250 000 since the latest go-ahead was announced late last year. I imagine Lucas Dow could just about finance that out of his pocket, without needing to call on Mr Adani’s much greater resources.
The report goes on to mention the mining camp, with a capacity of 250 beds, nearly entirely empty at the moment. The reporter notes that it’s way too small for the supposed demands of the project, but is perhaps unaware that it was built some years ago, when there was a real prospect that it would go ahead. My rough estimate is that a setup like this would cost around $10 million, though its depreciated value would be a lot less.
It seems clearer than ever that Adani is hanging out for compensation, with no intention of actually pouring $2 billion into a project that has almost zero chance of long-term financial viability. Either that or waiting for something, like a resurgence on the coal price, or a sweetheart political deal in India, to turn up.
Perhaps the state government could offer to buy everything currently on site – the grader, dongas and anything else that is actually present, rather than being an accounting entry.