Bravus Mining & Resources (formerly Adani Enterprises), who own the Carmichael coalmine, are courting controversy again. The Carmichael coal mine is a 10 million tonne per annum coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. The project has been besieged by challenges from the Australian Conservation Foundation and others, claiming that it is an environmental hazard. 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. Bravus Mining & Resources wants to build an AUD 5.3 bn plant in India that would use Australian coal to make two tonnes of PVC plastic per annum, using 3.1m tonnes of coal from the mine. Bravus Mining & Resources have sought environmental clearances to build the PVC plant in Mundra, Gujarat; the plant is expected to sprawl across 3 Km2.
This contradicts early promises that the mine would be used solely for power generation purposes.
Supporters of the project argue the exported coal will be used to produce electricity. Therein, help lift people out of energy poverty in developing areas of India. This may be the case, but critics suggest this promise merely disguises the true intentions of Bravus Mining & Resources. In their defence, they say that India will be the “foundation customer for the Carmichael project”. Since it is the fourth-largest global user of electricity, this is a good thing for the Indian economy. In addition, they claim that coal will be sold via “index pricing” and not in transfer pricing practices, stating this means all taxes and royalties will be paid in Australia.
As questions began to surface, the corporation stated earlier this month that their coal, a thermal coal, is not suitable for use in plastic manufacturing and that it is ideal for use in power generation. However, they also stated that coal would go through various processing, creating calcium carbide and acetylene, which produces PVC. To add further confusion, they said India’s demand for PVC is outgrowing supply. The bottom line is that their answers are crafted in such a way that they neither assume responsibility nor admit culpability.
What that potentially means for India is a polluting mega-factory with a gigantic carbon footprint. There are mitigating factors such as electricity supply and residual jobs for local Indian communities. For Australia, there is a sizeable economic benefit too. However, this is not the twentieth century, and we must wonder whether such reliance on fossil fuels is reasonable. In an era of increased environmentalism and corporate social responsibility, the Carmichael coalmine presents a moral dilemma. SumOfUs, an environmental campaign group, launched a petition to pressure Bravus Mining & Resources’ financial backers to withdraw their financing, calling the project “toxic” and emission-intensive for Indians, Australians, and everyone else.