French withdrawal from coal project underlines Newman’s dredging absurdity

6 December 2014

The decision overnight by French bank Société Générale to withdraw from GVK’s Alpha Coal project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin underscores the Newman Government’s absurdity in planning to dredge the Great Barrier Reef to enable projects that may not even eventuate.

Société Générale had been advising Indian conglomerate GVK on debt finance for their proposed 30 million tonne per year coal export project, which would require a new coal export terminal to be built at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The bank’s withdrawal follows months of sustained campaigning in Australia and France to prevent the project from progressing, and comes after nine major international banks have this ruled out finance for new coal export terminals in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Having been unable to deliver on their stated intent of opening up the Galilee coal basin, the Newman Government is proposing to conduct the dredging and dumping operations at Abbot Point themselves, regardless of whether the projects proposed by GVK and another Indian conglomerate, Adani, reach financial close.

The project involves dredging several million tonnes of seabed at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and dumping it on the Caley Valley Wetlands, a nationally significant wetland adjacent to Abbot Point. Market Forces is calling on the Newman Government to suspend any progress on the taxpayer-funded project until it is clear the proposals of GVK and Adani have secured the necessary finance to proceed.

Market Forces Lead Campaigner Julien Vincent said:

“Having failed to open up the Galilee Basin, the Queensland Government is going to desperate measures. They are now the proponent, assessor and funder of a project that would dredge a million cubic metre hole in a World Heritage Site, dump it on a natural wetland and all without any certainty that the coal export projects will even get built.

“It shows the disregard for the Reef held by the Newman Government that they would trash it, even if the proposed coal export projects of GVK and Adani fail to secure the finance needed to go ahead

“This project is going to be funded from the public purse, meaning that money that could have been spent on services for Queenslanders or projects that help build a broad, diverse economy will be thrown into a potentially redundant hole in the Reef.

“It’s time for this madness to stop. Premier Newman needs to see sense and halt any work on dredging Abbot Point until it is clear that the projects have the finance necessary to proceed.”