Carmichael Coal Project

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{{#badges: CoalSwarm|Navbar-Australiacoal}}The Carmichael Coal Project is a coal mine proposed by Adani Mining, a subsidiary of the Adani Group it is also referred to simply as the Adani mine in Australian and international press. The proposed mine is located approximately 160 kilometres to the north-west of Clermont in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland, Australia.

The mine could extend to produce 60 million tonnes of coal per year.[1] The proposed Carmichael Mine is the largest proposed project in the Galilee Basin. In addition, eleven smaller mines are also under consideration in Galilee Basin.[2][3]

The Carmichael mine, has been highly contentious, especially as of June 2019 it is looking like it could be the first coal mine to go ahead in the Galilee Basin, although the financing of the project is uncertain which could prevent it from operating.[4]

The Carmichael coal mine is planned to operate for 60 years and is predicted to emit more than 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gas throughout its lifetime. The project includes an open cut and underground coal mine and a 189 km rail link to transport the coal from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point Coal Terminal, near the Great Barrier Reef.[5]

Project Status

On the 13th June 2019 Adani was granted its final environmental approval, for the mine, following the acceptance of the groundwater management plan. Greens senator Larissa Waters said "They still don't have their pipeline approval, they still don't have their railway approval, they still have some federal plans that need approval."[6]

The company has already spent A$3.3bn on the project, including buying Abbot Point port in Queensland to ship coal from Australia to India, where the group owns a fleet of power stations.[7]


160 km north west of Clermont in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland

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Strategic Significance

The Carmichael Mine is a pivotal project to open up the Galilee Basin that would have a combined export tonnage of 280 million tonnes of coal per annum, roughly equivalent to Indonesia’s annual coal exports. Activation of the Galilee Basin would more than double Australia’s coal exports from 300m tonnes per annum in 2010-2011 to broadly 600m tonnes per annum. There are 12 mines under consideration in the Galilee Basin.[8] According to a 2012 Greenpeace report, the nine coal mega-mines are proposed in the Basin then would have a combined peak production of 330 Mt per year, amounting to 705 Mt of CO2 per year.[9]


In November 2010 Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that the Coordinator-General had declared the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project as a 'Significant Project'. Bligh stated that the cost of the project would be US$4.1 billion for the mines with an $6 billion rail infrastructure "leading to coal export terminals at Abbot Point, [[Hay Point [Coal Terminal]]] or both." She stated that the mine "could employ 4000 people during construction and a permanent operational workforce of up to 5000 employees." In addition, she stated, the railway could employ "approximately 2000 people during construction and an operational workforce of up to 120".[10]

In 2011, India power company Adani stated on its website that the Carmichael mine has an estimated 7.8 billion tonnes of coal resources and that a 60 million tonne a year project could have a mine life of a century. "The proposed mine involves the development of both a greenfield open-cut mine and an underground mine, supported by rail facilities leading to coal export terminals at either Abbot Point or Hay Point or both these ports. The mine has an expected life of more than 100 years. Export coal from the Project and will predominantly service the Indian domestic power market," the company states.[11]

In May 2014, Queensland’s Coordinator-General gave approval for the project to proceed.[12] 190 conditions were set by the state during both construction and operations phases of the mine with particular attention paid to groundwater and water bores which may be potentially affected.[12]

In July 2014, Australian Minister for Environment Greg Hunt approved the Carmichael coal mine and its associated rail link to the coast[13]; however, environmentalists have expressed strong opposition to Galilee Basin coal mining and development of a major coal port so close to the Great Barrier Reef and have launched petitions and legal proceedings to block Adani's plans.[14]

In early September 2014, the plan to dump dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef had been scrapped.[15][16] The proposal to dump the spoil at sea was widely rejected on the grounds that the fragile coral and seagrass ecosystem could be damaged. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority scientists had opposed the dumping plan.[16]

In January 2015, Australia Mining reported that Adani had awarded a US$2 billion contract to the Australian engineering company Downer EDI for development of Adani's Galilee Basin mines, with mine construction slated to start in 2015 and coal production expected to begin in 2017.[17]

The conditional $2.6 billion contract between Adani and Downer EDI was cancelled in December 2017 following a campaign against Downer EDI by activists against the mine.[18]

In July 2015 Adani dissolved the project management team before construction was set to begin, leading to speculation that the project may be cancelled. Adani said it remained committed to the mine and insisted the move, which leaves only a small legal and approvals team engaged in the project, was linked to the suspension of engineering contractors in June 2015. Managers of the Korean steelmaker Posco, who had been working on the project for a year out of Brisbane, returned to Korea.[19]

One lawsuit filed by the New South Wales Environmental Defenders Office, on behalf of the Mackay Conservation Group, argued that federal environment minister Greg Hunt failed to take into account the climate impact of greenhouse gases emitted by the burning of coal from the Carmichael mine when assessing whether to grant its license. Under the environmental assessment process, Hunt accounted for greenhouse gas emissions from extracting and transporting the coal, but not from burning it. Predictions suggest that this could produce an extra 130 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over the mine’s lifetime - a quarter of Australia’s annual emissions.[5] The case was won by Mackay Conservation Group, in August 2015. The Adani Carmichael coal mine was the re-approved at a Federal level, in October of that year, but subject to a further compliance conditions.[20]

In August 2015 a federal court overturned the Abbott government’s approval of the proposed mine, finding environment minister Greg Hunt ignored his own department’s advice about the mine’s impact on two vulnerable species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake. As stated in the Guardian: "The decision leaves Adani, which is yet to secure sufficient financial backing for Carmichael and recently slashed its workforce on the project, without legal authority to begin construction."[21] Shortly after the federal court ruling, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia pulled out of its role as financial adviser to the project,[22] followed by Standard Chartered.[23]

However, in October 2015 the Australia government reissued the environmental permit for the coal and rail project, subject to 36 conditions including improving the habitat of the endangered Black Throated Finch (Poephila cincta), protecting groundwater, and providing A$1 million for conservation research.[24]

In February 2016 Adani was issued environmental authority for the Carmichael mine by the Australia Department of Environment and Heritage. Adani still needs to obtain significant bank funding, and must convince the Queensland government it has obtained “financial closure” before it will be allowed to begin dredging near Great Barrier Reef waters to expand the Abbot Point Coal Terminal. Adani also still has to obtain a mining lease from the Queensland government.[25]

Shortly after receiving environmental authority, a report by Axis Capital described Adani's investment in Carmichael as "dormant" and said no capital expenditure was expected in the mine until at least April 2016 (FY 2017). According to the report, Adani's management said "that further investments in its Australian coal mine project shall be dependent on visibility of revival in global coal prices."[26]

In April 2016, the Queensland government granted Adani rights to three mining leases covering an area estimated to contain 11 billion tonnes of thermal coal. Adani said a final investment decision would not be made until court challenges to the project were resolved, and it had secured the final approvals it needs.[27]

In August 2018 Australian court quashed a court case by the indigenous Wangan and Jagalingou Adani Enterprises from developing its controversial Carmichael coal mine. This cleared one of the final legal hurdles to its [28]

In June 2019 Adani were successful in obtaining the final mining approval following the agreement of the Groundwater Management Plan.[29] The economic viability of the project, and the capacity to get adequate insurance cover are still hindering the company.[30]

CO2 Emissions

Annual CO2 emissions from this proposed project are estimated to be up to 120 million tonnes per annum.[31][7] The Adani mine alone will see up to 2.3 billion tonnes of coal extracted from an area five times the size of Sydney Harbour over 60 years. This is equivalent to putting out 7.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.[32]

Other proposed mines in the Galilee Basin include Alpha Coal Project, Alpha North coal project, Alpha West coal project, China Stone project, Clyde Park coal project, Kevin's Corner Coal Project, South Galilee coal project, Galilee Coal Project, Pentland, Clyde Park coal project and Hughenden coal mine. Combined this represents a huge amount of potential CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Many of these projects plan to utilise Adani's infrastructure to export their coal through Abbot Point Coal Terminal.

Companies Involved

The mine is owned by the Adani Group, India’s largest coal trader private thermal power producer, and port operator.[31]

The Adani Group is working hand in glove with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi. Modi travels routinely in an Adani private jet and Gautam Adani regularly attends meetings with Modi and global political leaders, including China, America and Australia.[33] Modi is operating on an anti-corruption ticket. Adani is Modi’s biggest donor.[34]

Organizational Allies

International: Earthjustice, Sierra Club, International Coal Network, RBF, RFF, SeaChange, European Climate Foundation, GP, IEEFA.

Local Opposition

Local: Sunrise, Indian CSO launching legal action against the mine under Australian law (facilitated by Earthjustice – confidential), range of Australian NGOs and very close connections to state, federal and international lawyers.

Indigenous: Wangan and Jagalingou People – applicants under Australian Native Title Act.

Australian Political Situation

Domestic energy prices have risen sharply while domestic oil production has dropped sharply.[35] In August 2018, facing a leadership challenge from members of his own party, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that he would abandoned the country's pledge to reduce emissions under the Paris Agreement, and that using energy policy to reduce emissions is "madness."[36] Facing a vote of no-confidence, Turnbull stepped down and was replaced by Scott Morrison, who pledged to focus on reducing energy prices rather than emissions.[37]

Australia government support

In November 2014, responding to falling coal prices and diminishing interest among other potential developers, Queensland's state government offered to contribute an unspecified amount ("hundreds of millions, but not billions" of dollars) in incentives towards construction of the proposed $2.2 billion rail line between Galilee and Abbot Point.[38] Shortly after, Korean steelmaker Posco began talks with Adani about taking equity stakes in the mine and rail link, and attracting US$1 billion in funding from Korean banks.[19]. Posco has since pulled out.[39]

In June 2015 documents released under Queensland's freedom-of-information laws showed officials at the highest level of the Queensland Treasury held grave doubts about the financial viability of the project, even as former premier Campbell Newman was promising taxpayer funds to help establish the mine. Former treasurer Mark Gray and principal commercial analyst Jason Wishart expressed fears about Adani's high level of debt and identified the mining giant as a "risk" because of its unclear corporate structure and use of offshore entities.[40]

International Dynamics

Public-interest litigation has been filed in Delhi’s top court asking for a special investigation into claims the Adani Group and other energy companies inflated coal and equipment prices to siphon money from India. In August 2017 The Guardian revealed details of a massive fraud investigation into the Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate preparing to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia.[41] Adani was found not guilty.[42]


The total cost of the project is an estimated $16.5 billion.[43]Adani is not an existing coal mine operator, and would derive various benefits from the Carmichael, such as enhancing its existing supply chain and vertical integration sustained by political connections in India.

In November 2014, Adani signed a memorandum of understanding with the State Bank of India for a loan of up to US$1 billion to help finance the Carmichael project.[44] In March 2015 it was reported that the State Bank of India (SBI) was preparing to turn down the US$1 billion loan request from Adani, as the project was looking risky and unprofitable,[45] although SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya dismissed the news as "gossip."[46]

According to Greenpeace, a June 2015 court case in Queensland revealed that Standard Chartered of UK had previously provided a loan of US$680 million to the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project. While the bank disputes this, Standard Chartered has not publicly explained where that money has come from.[47]

As of June 2015, a total of 11 international banks have publicly distanced themselves from the Galilee Basin coal projects and its financing, including HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Citi.[48]

The estimated cost of the Carmichael mine is US$4 billion, plus US$2 billion for the rail line and US$1 billion for expansion of Abbot Point Coal Terminal. As of 2015 Adani has already spent US$1.3 billion on the project and is seeking US$4 billion in debt. Over its 60-year mine life the investment from Adani will be US$16.5 billion.[49]

In July 2018 Adani announced that it is still seeking financing to build the rail line that will connect to the mine. Some analysts note that billionaire Adani has the ability to fund the project himself, if other financing is unavailable.[50]

A February 2017 report by found that Australian fossil fuel companies had received $2,000 in subsidies for every $1 contributed to Australian political parties and candidates. The report looked at donations declared to the Australian Electoral Commission since the last federal election, which amounted to $3.69m. It then calculated the combined value of four tax rebates and credits that would be used by the fossil-fuel industry in the 2016-2017 financial year, which it estimated would amount to $7.7bn.[51]

Questions over company ownership

In 2015 Fairfax Media reported that Adani was operating a complex web of companies associated with the Carmichael mine and Abbot Point port out of tax havens, including the Cayman Islands. The company documents suggest that many of the companies associated with the Carmichael mine and infrastructure development are not controlled by the head of Adani, Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, but instead by his brother, Vinod Shantilal Adani. Vinod has been named in an Indian criminal investigation into the alleged siphoning of $1 billion from Indian shareholders. Company documents also revealed that Adani sold its stake in the Abbot Point port -- through which the Carmichael coal would be exported -- in 2013 to a Singaporean company in which Vinod was the sole director, however this was not made known to Australian authorities or the Bombay stock exchange. Adani was also found to still control a number of Australian companies linked to its Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin, despite excluding these companies from its 2013-14 accounts.[52]


The mine is planned to contain six open-cut pits and five underground mines.[53]

Operation at the mine are expected to consume 12 billion liters of water each year.[54] According to the mine’s environmental impact statement it will produce 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the expected 60-year life of the mine,[55] including gases produced during the mining process and from emissions created from the mining and transportation of the coal.[55]


Rail line and port

The Carmichael mine is remote. To transport the coal to its port on the coast, Adani propose to build the North Galilee Basin Rail Project.

A new railway line is planned to transport coal to port facilities at Abbot Point Coal Terminal. As of September 2019 the permissions needed to construct the railway have not been granted, nor has funding been secured. The line will join the existing Aurizon’s Newlands rail line.[56] Adani partnered with the Korean construction group Posco to build the rail link, aided by a reported US$450 million in state government subsidies. Posco pulled out in 2015 taking the Korean financing with them.[39] Adani plans to expand capacity at the Abbot coal terminal by 70 million tonnes.[57] Some of the other coal mines proposed for the Galilee Basin plan to use Adani's rail infrastructure to export the coal from Abbot Point.[58]

Coal plant

Australian firm RCR Tomlinson has established the subsidiary Moray Power to develop the 150 MW Moray power station in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland. The power station would provide energy for the Carmichael Coal Project.[59]

Queensland Access Road

In June 2018 the Queensland government announced that it was considering fronting the $100 million cost of an access road to the Adani mine. Mine opponents argued that Adani has already broken previous promises to help maintain local infrastructure needed for the mine's operation.[60]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Adani Australia[61]
  • Parent Company: Adani Group
  • Location: 160 km north west of Clermont in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland[62]
  • GPS Coordinates: -22.073611, 146.329722 (approximate)
  • Status: Development[63]
  • Production Capacity: 10 Mt/year[61] to extend to 28Mt/ year[64] or 60Mt/year[65]
  • Total Resource: 10.15 Giga tonnes (Gt)[66]
  • Minable Reserves: 1.16 Gt of measured resources, 3.24 Gt of indicated resources, and 5.74 Gt of inferred resources[66]
  • Coal type: Thermal[8] for export
  • Mine Size: 27,892 hectares[8]20km across by 30km North to south, divided into 4km squared pits
  • Mine Type: Underground (longwall mining) and surface mining[8]
  • Start Year:
  • Source of Financing: Self-funded[66]

Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation Project website


Articles and resources


  1. The Hindu, "Adani wins final approval to begin work on Australian coal mine project" The Hindu website, 13 June 2019.
  2. Galilee Basin, "Other Mine Projects"Galilee Basin website, 18 March 2015.
  3. Galilee Basin, "The Projects"Galilee Basin website, 30 March 2015.
  4. Stephen Long, "Adani's Carmichael coal mine surviving on lifeline from Indian parent company"ABC News, 23 July 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Court challenge will test coal mining’s climate culpability," The Conversation, January 15 2015.
  6. ABC News, "Adani has its environmental approvals, so where does the project go from here?"ABC News, 14 June 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Adani pushes ahead with Australia coal mine despite protests, Financial Times, June 6, 2017.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 The Galilee Basin "Carmichael" Galilee Basin website, 26 November 2015.
  9. Georgina Woods, "Cooking the Climate," referenced in Greg Muttitt, "The Sky's Limit," Oil Change International, September 2016, p. 24
  10. Anna Bligh, "Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project declared ‘significant project’", Media Release, November 24, 2010.
  11. Adani Group, "Coal Mining", Adani Group website, accessed September 2011. No longer available
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  13. World Coal, "Largest Australian coal mine given the go-ahead", World Coal website, July 28, 2014.
  14. "Environmental group takes Adani’s Carmichael mine to court", Mining Australia, October 9, 2014.
  15. Ben Hagemann (2 September 2014). "Abbott Point dredge dumping plans on the rocks", Mining Australia, Cirrus Media. Retrieved on 21 January 2015. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Oliver Milman (2 September 2014). "Abbot Point port developers to ditch Great Barrier Reef seabed dumping plan". Retrieved on 21 January 2015. 
  17. "Adani awards Downer EDI $2 billion coal contract", Mining Australia, January 5, 2015.
  18. Josh Robertson"Adani parts ways with mining services company Downer over proposed Carmichael mine",ABC News, 18 December 2017.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Adani dissolves 50-strong project team from troubled $16.5bn Carmichael mine," Guardian, July 21, 2015.
  20. "Mackay Conservation Group v Commonwealth of Australia and Adani Mining", NSW Environmental Defenders Office website, August 2015, later updated.
  21. "Approval for Adani's Carmichael coalmine overturned by federal court," The Guardian, Aug 4, 2015.
  22. "Adani Carmichael mine: Commonwealth Bank walks away from financial adviser role for $16 billion coal mine project in central Queensland," ABC Australia, Aug 5, 2015
  23. "Standard Chartered quits controversial Carmichael coalmine in Queensland," Guardian, Aug 10, 2015
  24. "Australian govt nod for Adani project," Decan Herald, Oct 16, 2015
  25. "Queensland gives Adani environmental permit for Carmichael coalmine," Guardian, Feb 2, 2016
  26. Daniel Burdon, "Adani puts mine funding 'on hold' until coal price goes up," Queensland Times, 4 Feb 2016
  27. "Adani's Carmichael coalmine leases approved by Queensland," Guardian, Apr 3, 2016.
  28. Australian court quashes indigenous challenge to Adani mine, Reuters, Aug. 17, 2018
  29."Adani gets final environmental approval for Carmichael mine"] ABC news website, 13 June 2019.
  30."Adani beware: coal is on the road to becoming completely uninsurable"] ABC news website, 13 August 2019.
  31. 31.0 31.1 The Adani Files, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Feb. 15, 2017
  32. Australia’s climate bomb: the senselessness of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, The Conversation, Apr. 12, 2017
  33. Harika Mamidi, [ttps:// "Connection between Modi and Adani's coal mine in Australia"h], Dhruv Rathee, 14 October 2017.
  34. Josy Joseph, "Modi, Adani and Black Money. Where's the Investigation Going?", The Wire, 13 August 2016.
  35. 'Alarmingly low' oil supplies may prompt more drilling in Great Australian Bight, minister warns, ABC, May 15, 2018
  36. Australia pulls out of climate change targets agreed at Paris conference, The Independent, Aug. 22, 2018
  37. Scott Morrison, Australia’s Next Prime Minister, Pledges to ‘Heal Our Party’, New York Times, Aug. 23, 2018
  38. "Newman government courts Adani on Galilee Basin coal deal", The Saturday Paper, November 22, 2014.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Julien Vincent "Adani's mine is a black hole for brands", Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2017.
  40. "Adani's Carmichael Mine is unbankable says Queensland Treasury," Sydney Morning Herald, June 30, 2015
  41. "Public interest lawsuit filed in India calling for investigation into Adani Group", The Guardian, Sep. 15, 2017
  42. Michael Safi"Mining giant Adani cleared in second case over allegations of financial fraud", Guardian, 25 August 2017.
  43. Carmichael coal mine magnate Gautam Adani: from school dropout to $12bn empire, Sydney Morning Herald, Nov. 17, 2017
  44. "Adani lines up $1 billion SBI loan for Australian coal venture", Reuters, November 17, 2014.
  45. "SBI to turn down Adani's $1 billion Australian loan request - sources," Reuters, March 13, 2015
  46. "SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya scotches reports of scrapping $1 bn loan pact with Adani," The Economic Times, March 13, 2015
  47. "Pressure builds for UK’s Standard Chartered to refuse investment to Great Barrier Reef coal project," Greenpeace UK, June 9, 2015
  48. "Australian banks under pressure after French lenders rule out funding Galilee Basin coalmines," Guardian, April 8, 2015
  49. "Adani’s Carmichael coal mine a step closer," The Courier-Mail, April 16, 2015
  50. Adani says it still needs a loan for rail line if coalmine is to go ahead, The Guardian, Jul. 18, 2018
  51. Fossil-fuel industry gets $2,000 in 'subsidies' for each $1 in party donations, The Guardian, Feb. 17, 2016
  52. Aaron Packard, "The Murky and Troubling Maze Behind Adani's Australian Coal Projects," HuffPo, 02/10/2015
  53. Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project: Project Overview. Completed EIS projects. Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (9 July 2014). Retrieved on 2 August 2014.
  54. Ben Hagemann (29 July 2014). "Carmichael coal mine means more jobs, less water for Queensland.", Australian Mining, Cirrus Media. Retrieved on 2 August 2014. 
  55. 55.0 55.1 Lenore Taylor (14 January 2015). "Federal court asked to overturn Adani mine approval due to impact on Great Barrier Reef". Retrieved on 21 January 2015. 
  56. The Australia Institute, Downloaded from "What’s Stopping Adani?", Stop Adani website, 24 May 2019.
  57. "Abbot Point: onshore dump would favour Adani, say coal miners", The Guardian, January 12, 2015.
  58. ABC News, "Adani could be 'ice-breaker' for six more proposed Galilee Basin mines, resources body says"accessed 17 September 2019.
  59. "RCR Tomlinson Establishes Moray Power to Develop Power Station in Galilee Basin," Morningstar, 01 Dec 2014
  60. Queensland Government considering funding $100m road for Adani mine, documents show, ABC, Jun. 5, 2018
  61. 61.0 61.1 Adani Australia, "About"Adani Australia website, accessed 23 September 2019.
  62. Adani Enterprises, "Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project"Adani Enterprises website, accessed 23 September 2019.
  63. Adani Australia, "Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project"Adani Australia website, accessed 23 September 2019.
  64. Nicole Hasham, ["Adani announces coal mine construction will begin"The Sydney Herald,29 November 2018.
  65. Queensland Government, "Coordinated projects map"State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, accessed 23 September 2019.
  66. 66.0 66.1 66.2 NS Energy "Carmichael Coal Project"NS Energy website accessed 23 September 2019.

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