Modi to back coal, renewables in Australian parliament address: Report

Sydney, Nov 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will invite Australia to play a key role in fulfilling India's immense appetite for energy as its economy rapidly develops, using a landmark speech to parliament on Tuesday to express support for coal and natural gas, as also renewable energy, says a media report.

In an article titled 'Modi to back coal, renewables in address to Parliament,' the Sydney Morning Herald writes: "In an address to be made in English, the Indian leader will make the remarks as he calls for stronger economic ties between the two nations and enhanced co-operation in information technology, tourism, education and agriculture."


"Mr Modi -- seen by many Indians, including the diaspora in Australia, as a transformative leader for the giant nation -- wants to bring power to India's 300 million citizens without electricity while also building capacity to power its expanding industrial and Information technology sectors."

The paper further writes, "He is supporting a new mega-mine in central Queensland to be operated by India's Adani Group but also sees a crucial role for wind and solar energy, along with natural gas and nuclear energy in addressing the country's energy challenge."

"He wants to buy Australian coal, but he is also a passionate supporter of renewable energy," a senior Indian official told Fairfax Media, the daily writes.

The report comes even as The Age Business Day in a report titled 'India may provide up to $US1b loan for Adani Australia coal mine', says: "Adani Enterprises won support on Monday from the Indian government and an Australian state to help it build a $US7 billion coal mine, rail and port project, defying a slump in coal prices to five and a half-year lows that has stalled rival projects."

The Indian trading and infrastructure conglomerate signed a memorandum of understanding to line up a loan of up to $US1 billion from the State Bank of India (SBI) for the Carmichael mine in Queensland, which it aims to build by the end of 2017.

"The MoU with SBI is a significant milestone in the development of our Carmichael mine," Adani Group chairman and founder, Gautam Adani, who has close ties with Prime Minister Modi, said in a statement, following a signing in Brisbane," The Age says.

"Adani came to Brisbane with a business delegation from India for the G20 summit, which Modi attended over the weekend."

"The company also won a commitment from the state government to take short-term, minority stakes in rail and port infrastructure needed to unlock massive coal reserves in the untapped Galilee Basin. Coal from the region must be sent 400 km by rail to the east coast," the daily says.

"We are bringing on board valued partners in different facets of this integrated project, ensuring we will meet our guidance of first coal in 2017," Adani Mining CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said in a statement.

"No final investment decision has been made on the Carmichael project."

Australia's federal and Queensland governments are eager to see the mine built following the loss of more than 4,000 coal jobs over the past two years, but analysts and project finance experts believe Adani may have underestimated the challenge of raising funds for the project.

"Adani, which is also facing a campaign by anti-coal campaigners, is counting on lining up funding from South Korea, having named POSCO Engineering & Construction Co Ltd as the preferred contractor to build its rail line."

Adani's apparent momentum on the Carmichael project is in stark contrast to rival Indian firm GVK's slow progress on another huge coal mine in the Galilee Basin, the Alpha project, which is co-owned by Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart.

"Much bigger coal rivals, like BHP Billiton and Glencore, have also shelved coal developments in Queensland at a time when a third of Australia's coal output is making losses," says The Age.


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