Complaint lodged with ASX over Adani job claims for Carmichael mine
A complaint has been lodged with the ASX alleging an announcement about Australia’s biggest coal development contained misleading information about the project’s economic potential.
In December last year Downer EDI Limited announced to the ASX its partnership with Adani Mining, to provide services for the controversial Carmichael mine in central Queensland.
The announcement quoted the CEO of Adani Mining, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, as saying the project would deliver “10,000 jobs and $22 billion in taxes and royalties” for Queensland.
However, environmental finance campaign group Market Forces has filed a complaint against Downer for announcing “significantly exaggerated figures”.
“There’s clearly been an over-inflation of the worth, value and scale of the project and we’re concerned,” said Julien Vincent of Market Forces, who is requesting a correction on the announcement.
“When you talk about 10,000 jobs in particular, if I’m an investor in Downer that’s big business and that’s great news.”
Mr Vincent pointed to the complaint, which stated that the Downer ASX announcement “influenced trading … by an increase of 7 per cent. We note that this is the largest price increase in the Downer share price in the last six months.”
Downer said it understood a letter referring to the December announcement had been sent to the ASX and therefore had no comment.
Indian utility Adani won environmental approval from the federal government for the $10 billion coal mine in July last year, despite the sustained downturn in coal prices, which could undermine the project’s viability.
It has been tipped to open the vast inland Galilee Basin, though not without need of a coal rail line hundreds of kilometres long, from the mine to Abbot Point Port north of Mackay.
The approval of the Carmichael mine and rail projects has been challenged before the Land Court of Queensland over the past five weeks.
The complaint quotes Adani’s witness on the project Dr Jerome Fahrer of ACIL Allen Consulting, who gave evidence that 1464 full-time jobs would be created by the project, while the government would receive between $7 billion and $8 billion in royalties in total.
“It’s startling that the Minister has not requested the department to review the alleged economic benefits of the mine in the light of these massive discrepancies that Adani has admitted,” said co-deputy Greens leader, Senator Larissa Waters.
“When the Minister approved the Carmichael coal mine, he took into account jobs and royalty figures that Adani has admitted in court are overblown.”
An Adani spokesperson said the evidence given at the Land Court was “selectively misquoted”, and that it “does not envisage the combined tax and royalty, direct and indirect, construction and operational job benefits of Adani’s mine, rail and port projects”.
In February, Fairfax Media revealed a complex web of companies tied to Adani’s Australian coal developments, extending from the low-tax regime of Singapore to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
The ownership structure of the project has since been questioned in a Senate tax inquiry and the land court case.
It comes as green groups demanded the government rule out using funds from a $5 billion concessional loans scheme for infrastructure in northern Australia to finance coal projects in the Galilee basin and at Abbot Point.
A budget measure, the scheme is aimed at increasing private sector investment in northern Australia.
Greenpeace said the government should make clear whether this would include coal projects near the Great Barrier Reef.
“At a time when 11 international banks have ruled out funding Galilee Basin coal projects, the Australian government must not prop up a dying industry that will harm the reef. Our money would be better used to help fund a transition to renewable energy,” reef campaigner Shani Tager said.
Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said “we are very concerned this could become a dirty energy finance corporation” for coal projects that were struggling to find finance from the banking sector.