Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani today said the intense resistance to his group’s Australian coal mining project was “abetted by some international NGOs and competitors” and termed personal attacks on him as “vicious”.
The Adani Group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.
Speaking at the SRCC Business Conclave, Adani said the group has lined up USD 15 billion investment in a greenfield venture in Australia to mine and transport coal that would replace a part of the poorer quality domestic coal being burnt in India.
“However in recent years our project has faced intense resistance, abetted by some international NGOs and competitors who have turned to vicious personal attacks and used the press to their advantage,” said Adani, who rarely addresses public fora.
The coal mining project in Australia would create significant job opportunities within Australia, while bringing energy security to 18,000 villages in India that have no access to electricity.
The group’s planned investments in Australia, Adani said, is the “largest overseas greenfield investment ever” by any Indian company.
Despite job creation opportunities, the Carmichael project has been facing opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups. The Indian energy giant has for more than five years been battling the opposition to any expansion of the Abbot Point port.
Stating that the Group’s journey from thermal power to coal mining has often come under criticism, Adani said that, while he agrees global warming is a challenge and a cleaner energy base is critical, it is possible to believe in both coal and renewables.
“The fact is that renewable energy technologies are not currently ready to provide uninterrupted base load power. The fact is that it is our responsibility to get electricity to the Indian child who needs to light that single bulb to educate himself,” Adani said.
He said in India there are 300 million citizens that lack access to power and the country is one of the lowest emitters of carbon-dioxide on a per capita basis.
The Adani group is “aggressively pushing renewable energy” and has featured as one of the top 15 renewable players in the world, he said.
Adani interjected his address to the students of SRCC with his life story on how from a high school drop out at the age of 16, he created a global integrated infrastructure group with with a revenue of about USD 11 billion.
“You are at a point of time where the future of our nation is full of incredible growth opportunities. If I, against all odds, made it as an entrepreneur there is no reason why here cannot be a thousand greater entrepreneurs amongst you too,” he said in his 30-minute speech.