ADANI CEO on why the Carmichael mine will go ahead
WHEN you talk to Lucas Dow about Adani's Carmichael coal mine, the conversation quickly shifts from "if" it will happen to "when".
The Adani Mining chief executive is a man who never had any doubt the controversial project would get up and that confidence was apparent during an interview with him in Rockhampton on Thursday.
He was here to deliver the deal-maker moment for the mine with a plan to cut about $1billion off the cost of its railway needs (previously $2.3billion) by building a narrow gauge track 200km long to connect the mine to Abbot Point Port using the Aurizon rail network.
When the application for the rail connection is approved - and it appears to be a formality - the finance for both mine and rail are expected to be rapidly finalised.
While he wouldn't be drawn into forecasting a start date - which will mean 1100 guaranteed construction jobs for Rockhampton Region workers - The Courier-Mail reports Adani is in talks with Korean finance companies and a deal could be struck before Christmas.
"We are forever moving closer to concluding that (finance) so we are not too far away," Mr Dow said.
"Once we have the rail (funding) we expect the mine to follow very quickly thereafter and basically we'll be ripping into construction.
"For us it's been how do we move in an expedient and efficient manner to be able to conclude this project so we can deliver on the jobs for Rocky, Townsville and more broadly Central and Northern Queensland."
The rail line had been seen as a major stumbling block for the rail project after the Queensland Government vetoed a potential $1 billion Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility loan for it last year. That forced the company to look at other ways to meet its coal transport needs.
"One thing this project is not short on is options," Mr Dow said about the rail solution.
"When we conceived the project the standard gauge at the time looked really good for us from a technical perspective. With standard gauge, as the name implies, the rail lines are are a little further apart so you can run larger trains on them so it's more efficient with carrying a larger pay load so that a had a lot of advantages initially.
"As we have assessed our options and how do we best and quickly get this mine up and running, the narrow gauge is the way for us to go.
"The great thing about the narrow gauge solution is there is certainty for us. With the standard gauge there was an interface agreement that had a little more uncertainty about it. This gives us certainty around cost and time.
"We go from not having to construct 400km of rail to 200km, which has obvious capital savings for us and advancing us closer to a financial close. We are tremendously excited about being able to push this along."
Mr Dow said Adani would make the necessary applications to connect the new rail line with the existing network, which was standard procedure for any mine.
"Like any other proponent connecting into the existing network, it's a regulated process," he said.
"There is nothing particularly unique about this. Every time you get a new coal mine coming in and they need to attach their train loading you have a connection. Often they'll have a 10km or 20km connection to the mine. Ours is a little longer."
Regarding Adani's environmental commitments, Mr Dow said all primary approvals were in place. A small number of management plans that fall out of those primary approvals needed to be concluded.
Mr Dow said a message he wanted to get across was that Adani was just another coal mine despite what opponents to it were trying to peddle.
"If we are talking about myth busters and that Adani will operate to a different standard, the reality is we are an Australian mining company and we are held to the same standards as BHP, Rio Tinto, Glencore and anyone else is," he said.
He pointed out the Adani Australia team was laden with experienced Australian coal miners who were committed to excellence. "Internally, what I've said to the team - and this may sound a little boring - but I want us to be another coal mine," he said. "A mine renowned for excellence in delivery and for engagement with our communities. "It's not any more complicated for us. There is nothing revolutionary to what we are doing."
He said the bigger picture was how the rail line would open up the Galilee Basin to other miners.
"That's why I feel really passionate about it," he said.
"It's not just the jobs we will bring, it's the opportunity for the others in the Basin. That's prosperity for Rocky, Mackay and Townsville, Moranbah, Clermont and Emerald.
"It's what (Senator) Matt Canavan and (Capricornia MP) Michelle Landry have been saying at federal level, we need jobs and development in the North and Central Queensland. I would like to see the rest of Australia get behind us."