With mining services company Downer pulling out of the Adani coal mine development, activists now say they’ll turn their pressure tactics on the ALP at a state and federal level.
Indian company Adani maintains it will now go it alone to build and run its planned coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin after cancelling a conditional $2.6 billion contract with Downer.
Galilee Blockade activists have spent much of this year pressuring Downer to withdraw its support for the huge project and the final blow came with the recent Queensland government veto of a $1 billion Commonwealth loan.
Blockade spokesman Ben Pennings told The New Daily it was a day of celebration for the environment movement – coming soon after Downer had signalled it was wavering by pulling out of two job roadshows based on the development.
“Early on we found out that they [Downer] cared more about their reputation than we thought they did, so that was a good sign,” Mr Pennings said.
If you’d told us at the start of the year, you know we started in March, that we’d force them out in nine months we wouldn’t have believed you.”
“It is a huge moment because there are only two or three companies in Australia who have got the ability to build such a large mine.
“Adani has never built a mine of that size, it has never built a mine like that in Australia and now it is pretending it is going to build the mine itself.
“The big thing with this is that Adani have to find someone else to build their mine and that is a really big issue for them to build and operate it because it is very hard to imagine any Australian company – there’s only one or two that could do it – would step into because they know that the majority of Australians are against it.”
Adani said in a statement it remained committed to the project and the split with Downer was “simply a change in management structure”.
The company has most government approvals it needs as well as an indigenous mine site access agreement that remains subject to a Federal Court challenge in March. However, the financials are proving to be more difficult, with Adani previously shifting its deadline for financial close on the project from the end of 2017 to the end of March 2018.
Adani maintains its $3.3 billion investment in Queensland – and associated 800 jobs – has the support of the community. But Mr Pennings claimed 60 per cent of Queenslanders were now against the mine.
He said there would be no letting up on convincing business and political parties to support more sustainable developments.
“There are communities in Queensland that need jobs and it’s important that the economic transition away from the boom and bust of coal, which is what Queensland experiences regularly, is pushed forward and it is invested in,” Mr Pennings said.
“There is large-scale solar happening in Queensland now, Adani themselves are involved in solar in Queensland and we really look at the large scale alternative energy projects rather than focus on projects that are not only extremely damaging but are very reliant on commodity prices which go up and down and mean boom and bust for regional economies.
“I think the big pressure at the moment is going to be [on] the Labor in Queensland and federally.
“The Labor party in Queensland, who are now in a majority, have got the power to stop mining in the Galilee Basin anytime they want to, with regards to native title issues, with regards to water license. They can even take away mining licences if they want to. But also federal Labor.
“If federal Labor finally get off the fence and say they don’t think there should be mining in the Galilee Basin then Adani and any other project is dead in the water because they are looking at 60-year projects which require long-term support from both federal parties … so we’re going to keep pressuring them.”
Mr Pennings told The New Daily blockades and activist protests at AGMs and in the marketplace would continue.
“Longer term the economics are thermal coal are not good,” he said.
“They are becoming less competitive with solar all around the world and it is really important climate change wise that a coal basin this huge can never be touched.
“There are different companies who have tried mining in the Galilee Basin for the long term and thus far we’ve stopped them … it is a real line in the sand. It’s such a large reserve of fossil fuel and it has to be left in the ground.
“We believe that we have people on our side and eventually we’ll get governments on our side and it will never happen.”