Adani heir’s inconvenient truth for activists
ADANI has pledged to ship its first batch of Queensland coal to India by 2021, and has hit out at green activists by declaring it is a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
In a rare and wide-ranging interview at the company's headquarters in Ahmedabad, India, Adani Ports CEO Karan Adani declared that after nine years of setbacks, the goal was to send the first coal from the company's controversial Carmichael megamine to India within about a year.
About 10 million tonnes of coal will be unearthed from the Galilee Basin each year and shipped to India where it will provide baseload power to the world's fastest-growing large economy.
Mr Adani - one of two sons to billionaire businessman and Adani chairman Gautam Adani - was unwavering in his pledge to start work on the company's north Queensland project.
"We're not moving away from our commitment in terms of starting this mine," he said.
Adani has been a flashpoint for environmental protesters who have mobilised and caused chaos across Australian cities and towns.
Sitting in the company's 15th-floor boardroom, the 32-year-old CEO, who is also a strict vegetarian, took aim at activists and declared Adani was a corporate leader in reducing carbon emissions.
"As a group we would be by 2025, or maybe earlier, we would be one of the few organisations who would be coming close to the Copenhagan 2022 targets," he said.
"Coalmining and thermal production, even though will be growing, it will still be offset with the amount of investments we are making in renewables."
Despite the bruising nine-year battle to secure approval for the Galilee Basin project, Mr Adani believes it will pave the way for future investment in Queensland.
"It has been a very tough journey, let me put it this way," he said.
"At the end of the day we do believe it's a very good investment.
"Our idea right now is just to focus on getting this up and running, start construction and get the first coal out by 2021 and then we'll take it forward."
Adani's Mundra Port in northwest India, the largest coal import terminal in the world, will receive most of Queensland's 10 million tonnes of coal.
Mr Adani said he would be pleased to welcome Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who visits India in January, and "anybody from Australia" to the mammoth 27-berth port.
"We have nothing to hide," he said.
"It showcases our ability... what we have created and what as an organisation we stand for. "We welcome anyone who wants to come and visit."
The port, powered by 80 per cent renewable energy, will improve the reliability of the grid in a country where up to 300 million people are without electricity.
"People underestimate the upliftment in the livelihood and upliftment of job improvements when electricity comes," Mr Adani said.
"What government has to look at and what as a country we look for is what is the fastest and cheapest source (of power)?"
Mr Adani said the company, which is on track to be the largest provider of renewable energy in the world, had failed to promote its investment in solar and wind.
"We have not talked about it a lot," he said.
In a comparison expected to shock green activists, Mr Adani agreed with some views spruiked by young activist Greta Thunberg.
"Each country has to strive to work towards improving the climate conditions, but I think it's a balancing act we need to do," he said.
Adani Global CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj admitted the company was naive about community sensitivity and regulation barriers when it first proposed the Carmichael project in 2010.
"When we entered the country I think we were quite aggressive in terms of our timeline we could deliver," he said.
"We became the poster child of coal and of climate change in the country.
"There are multiple projects that are there, but we got sort of picked out."
Despite the controversy and final state government approval just days after Labor's federal election drubbing, Mr Adani dismissed suggestions Australia's reputation as a place to invest had suffered.
While warning other businesses to be patient with Australia, he said the nation's rich minerals and resources would remain attractive to Indian companies if the economic viability of a project stacked up.
"I don't think this will stop people from looking at Australia," he said.