8 years have passed since Indian company Adani started work on new mega-mine Carmichael in the Galilee Basin. The mine, which is expected to produce 27.5 million tonnes of coal a year (Adani has approval for 40 million tonnes a year), could mean 10,000 jobs for Queensland, says federal Northern Australia and Resources Minister Matt Canavan. For cities like Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton, the Carmichael mine could be a long-awaited lifeline, as unemployment rates in the area reached over 10% in recent years.
In central Queensland, the wait is unbearable. “There is no doubt Adani does employ in Townsville,” said federal Labor leader Bill Shorten back in February. “Regardless of which projects proceed first, the critical issue for North Queensland is to open up the Galilee Basin, which will deliver a pipeline of 60-plus years of work for regional centres like Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton,” he says. “That’s an intergenerational opportunity for those regional communities and local businesses.”
Even now, the Carmichael mine employs 800 people in Queensland, with 1,100 more jobs on the way. But for Matt Canavan, it’s too little too late; “I’m hugely frustrated at the inability of Australian governments and political parties to given concessions on this project. There’s been Labor party backflips a couple of times last year and that destroys confidence in major investments and it costs jobs”, he said.
Local residents count on the energy sector heavily, and Adani is not their only hope. “The feeling locally is we’d love Adani to get going because we know there will be a trickle-down effect for us,” Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said. “But we can see a resurgence in the resources sector and there is less reliance on the hope Adani might get going. A lot less. If it went ahead it would be tremendous, but if it doesn’t there won’t be too many people who will lose a lot of sleep about it in our region.”
But now more than ever, it appears Adani is in full swing, as coal prices are back on the rise at $114.32 (as of October 7th), after hitting a low in January 2016, at $54.39. While the Carmichael project has faced difficulties in the past, good news finally came in Q3 and Q4 of 2018: in September Adani announced it was giving up its plan to build a rail line for the Carmichael coalmine and said it would connect to existing network instead, so it can ‘fast-track project delivery’, saving $1.5 billion. Then, 1 year after Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, stepped in to veto a $5 billion loan for the mine from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, Adani announced it will go forward without public money. Just this week it was disclosed that Australian and South Korean officials discussed financing for the Adani mega-mine, in a memo sent from Seoul to Canberra.
The mine could mean more than just jobs for Central Queesnland; The State Government said it expected to receive many millions of dollars in mining royalties, which would be spent on upgrades for schools, hospitals and roads. “Resources are extremely important for everyone in Queensland,” Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said in 2016.
So, will 2019 be the year Adani finally unveils the Carmichael mine and delivers its promises to Queensland and Australia? Now, for the first time in a long time, it definitely seems possible.
Lindsay Mueler graduated from the University of Scottsdale in 2005. Lindsay is Arizona transplant, having grown up in Flint. After graduating school, it didn’t take didn’t her long to decide she wanted to stay in the desert state Lindsay has written for several major publications including Buzz Feed and the Huffington Post. Lindsay is our community reporter and also covers world events.