Documents gathered under the Freedom of Information proved that Adani had asked the help of the Australian government to secure funding for China for its controversial Carmichael coalmine. The documents revealed that two government officials had reached out to a Chinese government agency to endorse the proposed coalmine.
Adani Mining is a company based in India. Its Carmichael coalmine project was first proposed in 2010 and is estimated to be worth US$12 Billion. The objective of the project is to dig up around and transport around 60 million tonnes of coal per year for export but mostly to India.
Last August, the project was blocked by a temporary court order citing potential risks to the environment. Specifically two vulnerable animal species’ survival would be threatened.
The disclosure of the documents which includes emails sent to Chinese and Indian embassy staff was surprising after continued denials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of its involvement with the project.
Attorney General George Brandis informed parliament that the letter which was co-authored by former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was only intended to confirm Adani’s compliance with all requirements and that the project had received its environmental approvals.
Tom Swann from the Australia Institute made the request to the FOI expressed doubts on the intent of the letter:
“It seems strange that the government would say that both representations to China and to Korea merely outlined Adani’s environmental approvals, given that they knew, at least in the case of the Chinese letter, that they were helping secure Chinese financing. And it seems strange that the DFAT secretary says it was not their role to help secure financing for projects. Here we have internal documents from DFAT showing they knew the purpose of the letter was to secure Chinese financing.”
In the Senate hearings last October 2017, the DFAT was frequently asked if it had made requests for any type of financial assistance for and in behalf of Adani. DFAT Secretary Frances Adamson responded in the negative and further stated, “It has not been the DFAT’s role to seek finance for the project.”
However the emails showed that Adani had approached DFA with a clear request to help the company secure funding from Chinese agencies. One email originating from Canberra, was sent to Chinese and Indian embassy staff under the heading “China: Adani’s Carmichael coal project – update on project financing request”.
The disclosures have raised new concerns on whether the DFAT made similar approaches to Korean agencies for the purpose of securing loans.
The DFAT has maintained its position on the matter releasing a statement that read “DFAT has made no representations to secure financing for the Adani project.”