Indian conglomerate Adani has confirmed it has halted works on its $10 billion Carmichael project in Queensland because of uncertainty and delays in approvals for what would be the country’s biggest coal mine.
Industry sources have suggested that the unusual step of putting works on ice is an attempt to push the new Queensland government to accelerate outstanding approvals. The Labor government’s shock Queensland election win in March this year continues to create some unease inside Adani ranks.
Engineering works by firms WorleyParsons, Aecon, Aurecon and SMEC are on hold.
Adani said the work it has commissioned to subcontractors over the past year was done “in anticipation of finalising approvals and decisions”.
“As a result of changes to a range of approvals over that time, it’s necessary to synchronise our budget, project timelines and spending to meet those changes,” Adani said in a statement.
“It is important to note we are now into the fifth year of development and approvals and therefore the need to finalise those approvals and timelines is critical.”
Adani’s comments came in response to a report in The Guardian on Wednesday that the miner had stopped engineering work on the Carmichael project, last week advising the four major engineering contractors to stop work on projects around the mine, including a 500 kilometre rail line and the controversial expansion of Abbot Point port.
Adani continues to deny speculation that it is abandoning the project.
Adani is waiting to get the final Commonwealth plank of its approvals platform in place – flagged for next month at the earliest. The Abbott government is yet to sign off on a revised plan to dump dredging spoil on the site of an abandoned BHP terminal expansion. The Indian giant is also facing court battles with environmental groups and Indigenous land owners – which could hold up the other crucial approval it needs – a mining lease from the Queensland government.
On Wednesday, the Queensland government called for expressions of interest into construction work to expand the Abbot Point port. The expansion will increase capacity from 50 million tonnes a year, to 120 million tonnes, to cater for the planned Galilee Basin expansion, headlined by the Carmichael mine.