The big yellow grader, one last time

Adani is getting on with the job of building its Carmichael coal mine as opponents prepare for a renewed campaign of protests.

That’s the lead in this SMH story about the Carmichael mine. But the picture released is the same yellow grader that’s been there for months.

This is a puzzle. On the one hand, Adani’s pronouncements exude confidence that the mine will be shipping coal within a couple of years. That was reinforced in a recent interview with Gautam Adani himself.

On the other hand, the company is showing no signs of urgency about getting to work. They’ve advertised only four jobs on their portal this month, after cutting lots of staff last year. And there’s been no announcement regarding contractors, consulting engineers and so forth, even though all their previous partners have either been sacked or walked away.

Given the subsidies Adani has recieved in India, the project might just be financially viable. But if so, why isn’t the corporation rushing to get it done while the political stars are aligned.

29 thoughts on “The big yellow grader, one last time

  1. Why should Adani stop trying to extract money from Australian tax payers now they have a state premier who has staked her reputation on the mine going ahead? Why not keep turning the screws? What have they got to loose, apart from the cost of renting the yellow grader? Coal can be bought on the open market for use in India, so it’s not like this mine has to go ahead.

    It is even possible Adani will take the high rate per kilowatt-hour he has won for Indian coal power complex and supply it with cheaper renewables. Kind of like a Bond villain with an evil plan for good.

  2. Perhaps the bailout of Adani’s Mundra plant in Gujarat came with under-the-counter conditions. Modi is, as I keep noting, intelligent as well as unscrupulous. If I were him, I think I’d make it clear that this is the last time. There will be no bailout from India if Carmichael fails, as it’s not an Indian interest at all.

  3. Patience, grasshopper. They only got their approvals last week. These big companies are slow and bureaucratic by nature, and you can just imagine how slow and bureaucratic a big Indian company is.

    If they haven’t moved by the end of winter, there might be a question to be asked.

  4. This whole Adani exercise is a clear illustration that in Australia, Govts exist to serve miners.

  5. Perhaps they’re going to source most of their workforce from India rather than employing potentially Bolshie CFMMEU members with high expectations about wages and conditions.

  6. In Australia, governments exist firstly to serve capitalists and especially mining capitalists but they will respond to popular pressure if they can’t manipulate it. Mining workers benefit too and this is actually of use to the Tories and capitalists. Mining workers can be split off (wedge politics) from the general labor and lefists movements by selective compensation. They get nice big pay packets while other workers, like service workers, get stuff all. Wedge politics and selective compensation have long been noted as part of the game, by thinkers smarter than me. John Quiggin is one and Paul Pierson another (IIRC in the latter case).

  7. Paul, the workers they do employ will be Australian, but if the mine goes ahead there is a good chance the mining trucks will drive themselves. This is because machines can simply do a better job than humans can. When you are talking about a giant truck loaded with tonnes of coal or overburden a tiny improvement in efficiency adds up to a lot of money.

    (Of course, it is possible the mine will use bucket lines and conveyor belts to move the coal instead of trucks. I don’t know the details of the plan.)

  8. Hardly surprising that they have not committed a vast investment in resources when the project has only just been approved. Agree with Smith9. One can think of elaborate explanations and conspiracies but the obvious one is that they feared non-approval.

  9. Harry, Adani stated repeatedly that they were ready to start as soon as they got approval, had heavy earthmoving equipment on site, and so on. That clearly wasn’t right. Perhaps they will indeed ramp up over the next few weeks as they have claimed, but so far they don’t appear to be in any rush.

  10. Depends on the definition of “start”. The site is in the middle of nowhere. They’re going to have to not just hire people but set up accommodation for them etc. They might already be “starting” to do these things.

  11. If they don’t get a move on it will be the wet season, which is a difficult season for civil engineering construction.

  12. There’s no real wet season in the Galilee Basin. Average annual rain fall varies by location between 492 mm and 610 mm. 65 per cent of rainfall occurs between December and March, so around 90 mm per month in the wettest months. By way of comparison, Darwin has 300 mm per month in its four wettest months.

  13. It may pay well for Adani to sit and wait as the Au$ falls. Another four months and delays may be able to be blamed on wet weather (again). Where are the Adani self-financing funds coming from, ie., where are they now, and by what circuitous route and last port of call?

  14. In contrast, a photo of a real construction site – Tesla’s new factory in Shanghai: ******cleantechnica.com/files/2019/04/2019.04-tesla-gigafactory-3-vincent.png

  15. Regardless of what happens to the current Tesla leadership, those production lines will be spitting out electric cars for many years to come. It’s not as if Tesla is selling an app that improves your experience of viewing cat photos.

  16. “those production lines will be spitting out electric cars for many years to come.”

    I wouldn’t bet the house on that. Tesla lost US$702 million in the last quarter alone. It has forgiving and patient investors, but il y a des limites .

  17. Smith9: Ronald is quite right. The magic of bankruptcy means that productive factories carry on under new ownership.

  18. James Wimberley: this makes sense only if the losses are caused by interest on debt, the debt is written off in bankruptcy and the new owners don’t need to raise any debt themselves. It doesn’t make sense if the cars themselves can only be made at a loss.

    Tesla’s problem is that it lacks scale, which is a sure-thing recipe to haemorrhage money if you are making cars. The future of electric car manufacture is with companies like Toyota who know how to make cars can do so in big volumes.

  19. Who said the cars being made would be Teslas, in the unlikely event of the Tesla company going bust? It’s a production line in a big shed, for God’s sake, not a design studio. Actually three: one for batteries, one for battery packs, one for cars. All could easily be repurposed to different products. BTW, Tesla makes far more EVs than the sluggard Toyota. It’s even currently ahead of BYD, unless you count the buses. ****insideevs.com/news/342547/global-sales-december-2018-2-million-plug-in-electric-cars-sold/

  20. Well they appear to have got insurance so that’s another hurdle crossed.

    But really this Adani thing is madness. It will have zero impact on emissions given a global market for thermal coal. Even if you ignore this and pretend it will have incremental impact it would be in the low hundredths of a percentage point at worst.

    No impact on the reef. No impact on the drought and so forth. To claim otherwise is factually wrong and should be an embarrassment to anyone who claims they are a scientist or even an objective analyst.

    I find it amazingly distasteful and counterproductive.

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