COLUMN-Adani walking away, or upping ante on Australian coal project? – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.s. – June 25, 2015)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 25 (Reuters) – Is India’s Adani Mining preparing to walk away from its A$10 billion ($7.7 billion) coal project in Australia’s Queensland state, or upping the ante in trying to speed up approvals for the huge project?

Adani surprised industry observers by confirming on Wednesday it had halted engineering work on its Carmichael coal project in the frontier Galilee basin in central Queensland.

The planned 40-million tonne per annum mine is supposed to start producing in 2017, with Adani intending to ship to India to meet the growing demand for power generation.

The explanation from Adani on why it stopped independent contractors from working on the mine, rail and port infrastructure was that it was rejigging the budget on the project as it faces delays in obtaining all the necessary government approvals.

Delays in getting approvals from the Queensland government meant that the previous project timelines were no longer achievable, Adani said in a statement.

“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.

However, the Queensland government shot straight back, telling the Australian website of the Guardian newspaper that “to date, all state regulatory processes have been completed to schedule”.

These include approvals for environmental impact statements for the mine and rail line, applications for a power plant to run the mine, an airport, quarries and camps for workers, the website reported.

The immediate denial of any issues with approvals by the Queensland government raises questions as to what Adani is trying to accomplish.

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