New Delhi: The controversial $16 billion Carmichael coal mine project by Indian mining giant Adani will be operational soon, Australia said Wednesday.
The renewed commitment to the mega project comes amid fresh questions by critics and activists following the raging bushfire crisis faced by Scott Morrison’s government.
The outgoing Australian High Commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu, said in New Delhi: “It is my understanding that work on the mine has begun … It is moving on to be operational.”
The Carmichael project, located in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, is one of the world’s largest coalmines, but is controversial because it is located near the environmentally-sensitive Great Barrier Reef. It has faced relentless protests and backlash from environmental groups in Australia, but Sidhu said the project has already secured all the required approvals, and there will be “no going back” on it as it entails substantial investment and will generate jobs for Australians.
Local news reports have stated that the Adani Group has had to shell out millions of dollars to the Queensland government by way of financial security to rehabilitate the site should there be environmental damage.
The High Commissioner’s remarks come at a time when the Scott Morrison government has been facing scathing criticism for its coal policy. Australia is the world’s fourth-largest coal exporter after China, India and the US.
‘India should come back to the RCEP table’
On the issue of India walking out of the ASEAN-led mega-trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Sidhu said “India will have to seriously consider return to the RCEP table.”
Australia is one of the members of the proposed trade pact, along with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
“There are limits to what one can do in its own country. India wants to build a strong manufacturing sector; for that, it will need inputs. You can’t get all the inputs you need inside your country; you will actually need to import them. You can’t rely on your own population, however large it is, to be your entire market; you need to be able to export your product; you need to be able to compete,” she added.
Earlier this month, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had said the RCEP is “not among equals” and that India walked out of it due to China.