Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd were mentioned in the Hindenberg Report. They are said to hold the royalty deed for the Carmichael mine. They are the entity responsible for the construction and the operation of the Carmichael Rail Network under Queensland law.
Is it even a shell company?
I refer to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRNPL) as a shell company because, while they are in theory connected to significant operational activity, their real operations are rarely reported in association with the actual name of the company. All the CRNPL contact points and communications are conducted through unspecified entities under the ‘Bravus’ (Bravus Mining and Resources) business name. They are an entity with no acknowledged employees, no dedicated website and no LinkedIn page.
In need of close examination
There is every reason to closely monitor the approvals provided to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRNPL) and the work of the regulatory agencies that are responsible for rail safety, competition, environmental approvals and cultural heritage. But close examination of Adani’s most active and crucial entity in Australia, whose operations are routinely reported by media, government and regulatory agencies under the Bravus business name is not happening.
The success of the entire Carmichael coal complex from port to pit is contingent on Adani keeping the ‘multi-user promise’ which is connected to any future royalty deal. Adani must make their rail facility available to multiple users, this is where the regulatory responsibilities of the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) will apply once they have been given permission from the Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick.
It is important to look at Adani’s messaging in regard to operational responsibility and third party access. The Bravus web page for the Carmichael Rail Network (CRN) does not mention the name of Adani’s rail proponent. Indeed it identifies Bowen Rail Company as the operator despite clear evidence that CRNPL are an accredited operator of the CRN:
The Carmichael Rail Network is operated by Bowen based business, Bowen Rail Company
A staff member at the QCA recently acknowledged to me that their organisation does not receive copies of new access agreements made between access seekers and access providers. The QCA Act does not require that operators regulated by the QCA provide the competition regulator with acknowledgement that an access agreement has been made let alone provide documents. When I asked the QCA staff member about the Carmichael Rail Network Access Policy approved by “the state” in December 2021 they had nothing to say.
The CRN Access Policy is utterly relevant to the work of the QCA. It sets up a framework for third parties, like other Galilee Basin coal mining companies, to access the CRN facility. Foreseeable demand is the trigger for the Queensland government to permit the QCA to begin investigating and reporting on the CRN. The issue here is the requisite evidence of foreseeable demand required by the Queensland treasurer. As long as third parties negotiate privately, and even if they make access agreements, the available evidence will not likely be seen as substantive. Cameron Dick and the Queensland government are in a position to delay engaging the competition regulator at their leisure.
We can reasonably assume that CRNPL and Aurizon have an access agreement because correspondence to the QCA in November 2022 from a Bravus consultant and former Queensland Rail and Aurizon employee asserted in November 2022 that Bravus (CRNPL) is “an existing Access Holder”. The same consultant asserted in October 2022 that “we rely on using ad hoc train services to meet our demand”.
A letter provided to Charles Milsteed (QCA) by Stephen Straughan, a consultant to Bravus Mining and Resources on 7 October 2022 asserts that coal is being transported on an “ad hoc” basis along the Aurizon Network. The letter also asserts that there is an “access application”.
As a result, forecast demand is likely to be materially less than actual demand for rail capacity as it does not reflect how capacity is actually utilised in practice. While we wait for additional capacity to be provided by Aurizon Network under our Newlands access application, we rely on using ad hoc train services to meet our demand. These ad hoc services make up a sizable portion of our weekly train orders and utilize unused capacity (contracted to others or otherwise) up to the maximum capacity available.
A letter provided to Charles Milsteed (QCA) by Stephen Straughan, a consultant to Bravus Mining and Resources on 4 November 2022 and published on the QCA website asserts that Bravus (CRNPL) are an “Access Holder”.
Bravus would also like to note our view on these matters have been formed from our experience as both an existing Access Holder with a significant stake in Newlands, and as an Access Seeker of additional capacity from Newlands including short term transfers from GAPE. This has provided Bravus with a broad and unique perspective with regards to the RWG proposal and other matters we have raised in our submissions.
On 27 February 2023 the Queensland Treasury responded to my request for administrative release of information regarding approval of the access policy with a letter containing this statement:
In response to your enquiry as to the approval process, I can inform you that Queensland’s Coordinator General approved the CRN Access Policy on 22 December 2021 following an extensive review process.
Patrick Wildie, Assistant Under Treasurer, Economic and Fiscal Group, Queensland Treasury, 27/2/23
I have forwarded this letter to the Office of the Coordinator-General and have asked if they can direct me to any documents on the public record confirming that the Coordinator-General approved the access policy.
The answer to my question should help me get a better sense of the legislative silences that allowed the bare minimum of information about the approval of the access policy to enter the public record. By legislative silences I refer to actions, processes and obligations specified under the relevant acts that do not require government departments and ministers to place particular documents or records of actions on the public record. It stands to reason that a company like Adani would be motivated to use every legal means to give themselves an advantage.
Unknown Adani entities under investigation
On 10 February 2023 Newscorp papers (The Daily Mercury) published a story on a signalling failure on the Carmichael Rail Network that could have lead to a collision. The article states that the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) are investigating the incident. On 14 February 2023 I spoke with a member of the coms team at ONRSR who told me they provided the media with a statement confirming that they are conducting an investigation, but did not say which of the 2 Adani entities that possess ONRSR accreditations are under investigation. The ONRSR does not publish media releases regarding its investigations. I could not discern if confirmation of the specific entities under investigation will ever take place. The 2 Adani entities regulated by the ONRSR are Bowen Rail Company and Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd.
I have submitted an administrative release request with the ONRSR under the South Australia, Freedom of Information Act 1991. My question to the ONRSR is straight forward and reasonable:
Which ONRSR regulated/accredited entities operating on the Carmichael Rail Network are under investigation for the ‘stop signal error’ reported by Duncan Evans on 10 February 2023?
Splitting the approvals
Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRNPL) were Adani’s secret rail proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project for at least 18 months before the Office of the Coordinator-General (OCG) made changes to the relevant project pages in June 2018.
CRNPL possess the rail operator accreditations and a riverine protection permit, but it is Adani Mining Pty Ltd that possess the environmental approvals and the Traditional Owner agreements. While CRNPL are the proponent for the purposes of rail, Adani Mining Pty Ltd identify themselves as the proponent for the purposes of environmental approvals.
A statement from the most recent EPBC compliance report illustrates that Adani Mining Pty Ltd see themselves as the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) proponent for the purposes of Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) compliance despite the fact that the proponent listed for that project by the OCG is CRNPL.
It is noted that Adani Mining Pty Ltd has updated its trading name relevant to CCMR, to Bravus Mining and Resources. For the purposes of this report the proponent is hereon in referred to as ‘Bravus’ however it is acknowledged that the approval holder remains as ‘Adani Mining Pty Ltd’.
Responsibility for the whole CRN project is split between 2 proponents because 2 different Adani entities are responsible for answering to regulators. The proponent that was installed secretly, CRNPL, is now the official rail proponent while the original rail proponent Adani Mining Pty Ltd continues to control how environmental regulation is reported regarding the NGBR project for which it is not the listed proponent under state law.
Many questions remain
On 13 September 2018 Adani announced that they were changing the ‘design’ of their “Carmichael Project” rail accompanied by a map showing the corridor that is a combination of the first section of mine rail known as Separable Portion 1 and the shortened section of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) designed to connect to the Aurizon network.
The Office of the Coordinator-General has not updated their project pages for Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) or NGBR to reflect the new rail corridor design. Why is this the case? Surely such a significant change to a project of this scale should result in updated information from the coordinating agency? Surely the absence of key information should have triggered some questions being asked by the media and the climate NGOs?
Journalists and commentators routinely misrepresent the nature of the Bravus brand. Bravus Mining and Resources is a business name owned by Adani Mining Pty Ltd, but used to refer to multiple Adani entities. Bravus is not a “subsidiary” or the “new name” of Adani Mining Pty Ltd, it is an umbrella brand applied to an unspecified group of entities termed the “Bravus Group”. ‘Bravus Mining and Resources’ is not the name that appears on any of the Carmichael approvals, accreditations, permits or licences. Why are government departments, investigators, NGO spokespeople and journalists routinely misrepresenting Adani’s corporate structure and never questioning what the ‘Bravus’ brand was set up to do? Why do government departments and regulators refuse to act proactively by placing the names of the entities they are coordinating/regulating/investigating on the public record in spite of the various silences in the relevant legislation?
The media and the NGOs clearly don’t comprehend the importance of interrogating the activities of Adani’s most active shell company. We have to assume that third party coal mining companies will continue to develop plans in private. Adani have stated that they have been approached by third parties, but the regulatory arrangements put the decision making power in the hands of the Queensland government which is choosing not to act in a fully transparent manner. The Queensland Competition Authority needs to be empowered now to give it oversight over the Adani shell company that is ensuring that the worst case scenario can take place.
A diabolical concession to carbon capture and storage
Part 2. Strategic Failure
Strategic climate justice failure – a timeline
Part 3. Industry Readiness
Value adding CO2 as a waste product
Pipelines and storage deliver transition
Evidence of a CCUS boom
Part 4. Thinking Properly
Boondoggles do damage
Fast moving and dangerous
Part 1. Questions and Answers
This briefing represents 10 years of research and activism starting with the fracking boom impacting my home state. A few years into the fracking boom I experienced the take-over of environmental/anti-fossil fuel activism by climate NGOs funded primarily through US based philanthropies working with Australian philanthropists.
I vowed to learn every possible lesson from the fracking boom and employ those lessons against the next phase of fossil fuel extractivism. I have always seen fossil fuel extraction as a dirty and destructive industry and a pillar of globalist hegemony. Like fracking, CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) had been practiced/developed for decades before appearing as a ‘solution’ in the energy market place. Like fracking, efforts to advance carbon capture and storage for CO2-EOR have received weak resistance in legislatures as new subsidies and other industry development supports have been established.
It is lamentable that the many technical experts, pundits and spokespeople who offer positions on climate and energy refuse to speak about the political will. As a generalist and an independent activist and researcher, I don’t have the credentials or the backing of any institutions to give me a veneer of credibility. What I do have is a working understanding of critical theory, psywar and the networked nature of modern power.
As a generalist I can comprehend enough organic chemistry to feel confident that my statements about industry readiness for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) boom are substantive. I offer this briefing with the expectation that anyone who disagrees with my assertions will take the time to critique my work in good faith. It is most likely that this briefing will be met with silence by the climate campaigners who ought to care that the establishment is once again ensuring that business as usual continues. It is the silence of climate campaigners that I contend is the most dire outcome stemming from their reliance on billionaire philanthropists and their agents. It is in the space created by the shared silences of industry, government, media and non government organistions (NGO) that the forces engineering business as usual operate.
Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
A. It is primarily/ostensibly about reducing emissions but it also includes adaptation plans.
Some defined actions:
avoided emissions from aforestation
carbon offsets purchased in the marketplace
reduced emissions from renewables
phasing out ‘unabated’ (without CCS) fossil fuels
carbon removal and carbon capture utilisation and storage
biomass with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
Q. Are fossil fuels being phased out?
A. No. The only commitments being made are for phasing out ‘unabated’ fossil fuels. Much of the phase out action involves the replacement of retired energy generation. Conventional coal fired power has been a particular focus of phase-out commitments.
A. Treaties, agreements and shared commitments, none of which specify phasing out of fossil fuels. All the measures were developed for mitigation and management of emissions. Carbon accounting is a primary emissions management tool.
The 1992 Earth Summit intoduced climate change as an active theme in environmental consensus building.
The Kyoto Protocol provided 3 mechanisms which are all carbon accounting formulations: Clean development mechanism (CDM), Joint implementation, (JI) Emissions trading (ET). CCS was included as an eligible technology under the CDM in 2011 (Article 6).
The Paris Agreement is a binding international treaty providing frameworks and mechanisms for finance and carbon accounting. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the central carbon accounting framework in the Paris Agreement. NDCs do not compel or necessarily encourage any country or state to phase out fossil fuels. NDCs are about emissions reductions on a ledger.
COP 26 produced commitments to phase out ‘unabated’ fossil fuels.
A diabolical concession to carbon capture and storage
Q. How did ‘they’ turn climate activism into an ineffective force for the environment?
A. At Wrong Kind of Green we contend that an expansive network of philanthropies/NGOs and their connections in government, corporations and the media work under prescribed narratives and talking points defined by funders and in so doing become useful idiots for the global governance agenda. We call this networked formation the ‘non profit industrial complex’. We call the process by which networks are exploited and messaging shaped to control global consensus mechanisms and manufacture the consent of the general public, ‘networked hegemony’.
A. The Design to Win plan was produced in 2007 for a collection of philanthropic foundations to further their ‘climate’ ambitions. It contains positions in support of “unavoidable” fossil fuels and the deployment of carbon capture and storage. The Design to Win plan launched John Podesta’s ClimateWorks Foundation which became his vehicle for establishing a vast network of NGOs of varying types including re-granting NGOs which disseminated the prescribed narratives and talking points to smaller NGOs. The media helped to reinforce prescribed narratives through amplifying selected NGOs and spokespeople, and participated in considerable silences regarding the growing political will for carbon capture and storage.
The 2007 report Design To Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming would serve to shape the future of the climate movement. The result of a commissioned study funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Design To Win “served as a catalyst for an unprecedented outpouring of funding on energy and climate issues. Implicit to the report was the idea that the ‘market knows best’ and that the role of regulators is to create the right conditions and send the right signals for a transition to a low-carbon economy.
A. Net Zero is an accounting outcome derived through the mitigation and management of emissions. Because it is based on results that appear on a ledger where actual emissions and various instruments representing offsets or avoided emissions are turned into numbers. Net Zero and other emissions mitigation and management schemes can and are being gamed.
A. The use of biomass as an industrial feed stock with carbon capture and storage applied. When biomass pellets produced from agroforestry trimmings, whole trees or timber industry waste is deemed carbon neutral, it provides a negative value on Net Zero ledger when CCS is applied. Biomass is widely reported as “renewable” when used in place of coal in conventional power plants.
The idea behind BECCS, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, is in part quite similar to CCS, Carbon Capture and Storage. However where BECCS goes a step beyond CCS is that Drax and other biomass burning companies proposing to use the technology argue that if they can capture the emitted CO2, burning biomass can become carbon negative and a climate solution! (This is based on the false premise that burning wood is carbon neutral) In 2019, Drax announced its ambition to become a “carbon-negative” company by 2030. Drax proposes that it will continue burning biomass and that with BECCS technology it will be able to capture up to 16 million tonnes of the CO2 it emits through its wood burning per year.
Q. Why is Farhana Yamin a pivotal figure in climate action?
A. Because she spent decades working as a policy wonk for the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) and for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, one of the key funders of Extinction Rebellion (XR). Shortly before joining XR with the sustainable development goals (SDG) tucked under her arm, Yamin’s think tank Track 0 produced the perfect articulation of the concession position engendered in global climate activism by John Podesta, and a range of billionaire donor advised funders and impact philanthropists.
The concession position, formulated in the mid 2000s and carried forward in the IPCC modelling, is to allow a little BECCS in exchange for a renewables revolution. The Track 0 rationale explains that to implement BECCS will require the implementation of CCS. The concession to BECCS is thus tethered to accepting some CCS. Because the BECCS concession is never included in any climate campaigner talking points and does not suit the prescribed narrative that asserts that there is political will to phase out fossil fuels, it is almost entirely excluded from discussion. It is as if the work of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative which is supported by the National Grid, the North Sea Transition Authority, and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy doesn’t exist. The collective narrative driven silence creates a false reality as the context for XR and Just Stop Oil (founded by XR founder Roger Hallam) activism.
Bioenergy production can be integrated with existing CCS technologies relatively simply and there are no technical implications of capturing a CO2 stream from biomass (Gough and Upham, 2010; Muratori et al., 2016). BECCS could complement the current expansion of the use of biomass as fuel (Rhodes and Keith, 2008). However, the success of BECCS is dependent on upcoming developments in CCS, where there are significant uncertainties surrounding CO2 transport networks, storage capacities, legality, social acceptability and technology incentives (McGlashen, Shah and Workman, 2010).
Q. How does the work of Biden administration senior advisor for ‘clean energy’ John Podesta intersect with the work of billionaire hedge fund manager Chris Hohn?
A. Both provide funding to Bellona Europa which has been creating opportunities for BECCS for at least 2 decades. Both have extensive interests in climate activism and steering industry toward greater emissions reductions using CCS and BECCS.
Bellona Europa works primarily on industrial decarbonisation, energy systems, circularity, sustainable finance, and negative emissions (carbon dioxide removal).
To back and support our work, our funders are mainly European and International philantropies: CIFF (Children’s investment fund), ECF (European Climate Foundation) and Climateworks. We also receive grants at the EU level (EU Horizon 2020 project, “European Negative Emissions Projects” ) and at the national level (Norwegian, Nordic & EEA grants for research).
Industrial sectors such as cement and steel production are responsible for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. We need the right regulatory, policy and financial frameworks to bring industry emissions down. We focus on things like carbon performance regulation, heating and cooling legislation, innovation, carbon capture and storage technologies and enforcement through carbon disclosure and shifting investor behaviour. We want to ensure that Europe leads the way in industrial decarbonisation and accelerate industrial decarbonisation at a global scale.
‘An Industry’s Guide to Climate Action, CHAPTER 3 summary: The Dawn of a New Industry’ (Funded by the Childrens Investment Fund Foundation)
As the transformation of the energy system continues and new technology options are developed and brought to maturity, measures that can provide effective and deep emission reductions to industry processes are needed today. • The capturing of CO2 emissions from industrial clusters and their transport and permanent offshore storage in deep geological formations (CCS) constitutes an essential part of the solution
CCS buys humanity time and industry a functional climate transition.
Q. Why is biomass with CCS (BECCS) so crucial to net zero accounting?
A. Because BECCS is the combination of the biomass double counting scam and the near zero emissions projections for CCS. BECCS has erroneously been labeled a ‘negative emissions technology’.
BECCS employs biomass as a feed stock, and the ‘technology’ is collectively known as carbon capture and storage. The biomass accounting scam labels trimmings from agroforestry including whole trees that, in theory, are permanently sequestering CO2 as ‘carbon neutral’. This means that when biomass is used as a feed stock, the emissions created by this ‘carbon neutral’ product acquire a negative value on the Net Zero ledger. The logic goes that with BECCS as the crucial supplier of negative net zero accounting value, variously derived carbon offsets, mitigation of fugitive emissions, and the assumption that CO2 storage works effectively, the net zero ledger can be brought to zero.
Tzeporah Berman heads up the campaign for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, she has a long history as a well connected environmental campaigner. In 2016 Berman joined UK High Level Climate Action Champion for COP 26, Nigel Topping (We Mean Business, Grantham Institute, UK Infrastructure Bank) and Suncor CEO Steve Williams to develop a ‘groundbreaking’ deal on emissions caps on Canadian tar sands. In 2021 Suncor acquired a stake in carbon capture technology company Svante. Suncor is part of the Pathways Alliance which has plans to emulate the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line as the basis for new gas and tar sands decarbonisation hubs. Chevron recently bought a stake in Svante who have made long term investments in carbon capture technology. Svante have stated their technology is for “rapid deployment”.
Tzeporah Berman has never mentioned the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) let alone contributed to any effort to unpack the project and contribute to public understanding. The North West Refining, Sturgeon plant was already under construction when Berman met with Topping and Williams. The brains behind the project, Ian MacGregor had already explained the scale of the vertically integrated refinery-pipeline-storage project in a speech to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers 33rd Consolidated Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ACTL has been called the “world’s largest CO2 pipeline”. With the Canadian government poised to introduce an American style tax credit for CCS, it seems like tar sands extraction and refining, gas extraction and CO2 enhanced oil recovery have a firm future in Alberta.
Recent statements from Alberta premier Danielle Smith make it very clear that the province is about to be subject to a CCUS boom.
We are working with the federal government closely on technologies like carbon caputre utilization and storage, hydrogen, critical minierals,
JB Noisecat left 350 dot org in early 2019 and joined Data for Progress, the progressive polling agency/think tank, taking on the role of Vice President of Policy & Strategy. As a member of Data for Progress, along with Sean McElwee, Noisecat advised the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force in advance of the Biden campaign’s final policy statements. He would go on to proclaim that Biden’s “build back better” plans “are a Green New Deal in all but name”. Data for Progress never had a problem with CCS, indeed they redefined “non-renewable clean energy” to include CCS, hydrogen and nuclear in their ‘scorecard’ on Jay Inslee’s policy agenda in June 2019. Noisecat went on to join the NDN Collective who are recipients of significant funding from the Bezos Earth Fund.
It could be argued that Data for Progress, with the help of the World Resources Institute, authored the original Green New Deal document in September 2018. The Green New Deal became an election vehicle for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and a campaign focus for the Sunrise Movement. AOC and Sunrise cofounder Varshini Prakash also helped CCS and nuclear pass the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force. If you follow the money and consider how First Nations and frontline communities were marginalised from the Green New Deal process, it’s hard not to see it as a cynical ploy to get another neoliberal Democrat president into place.
JB Noisecat seems to have helped keep “the door open” for CCS in his time since leaving the world’s most influential climate campaigning organisation (350 dot org). Any number of climate NGOs have signed open letters stating their opposition to CCS citing multiple concerns. Noisecat transformed from a climate campaigner, utterly opposed to new fossil fuel extraction, to the spokesperson for a kind of mute reformism. The passing of the Inflation Reduction Act with its “monumental enhancements” to the 45Q tax credit is testament to Noisecat’s failure.
Greta Thunberg is young and cannot be considered a failure, but a critical investigation of her messaging and content is always required. An important part of that critical view is consideration of Greta’s advisers and enablers. Cory Morningstar’s ‘The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg’ series, provides a compelling picture of a child with elite connections propelled into celebrity by philanthropically funded entities to direct the discourse away from the mitigation plans of the global climate consensus machine. While Greta has many minders, the only acknowledged adviser is Johan Rockstrom who wears a Sustainable Development Goals badge at public events and takes a position against degrowth.
It’s naive to say ‘Let’s go for de-growth, let’s completely divest, or let’s think of post-capitalist model and throw GDP in the waste bin’. We have to work with the economic machinery that we have in our engine room.
Greta has demonstrated a pattern of not speaking to the substance of mitigation plans relying on generalised statements that raise no questions about specific actors. Kevin Anderson who told me he is not an ‘adviser’ to Greta also acknowledged that she did not pay attention to the output of the IPCC Working Group 3 on mitigation when it was relevant to the discourse. I would argue that this inattention worked to protect the interests of those who would see enough fossil fuel CCS established to allow the implementation of CO2 storage for biomass with CCS. But, Greta is too young to know that she is enjoined to a long held compromise position held by organisations like the Bellona Foundation, WWF and the European Climate Foundation.
What about the IPCC ‘pathways’ that never get discussed? They embed #BECCS and mask the political will for fossil fuel based #CCS ie hydrogen energy and industrial clusters linked to North Sea export hubs. #netzeroemissions
In her climate book in Chapter 4 Greta provides an essay called ‘We are not moving in the right direction’. In it Greta develops the linguistic conflation that she carried to her public interviews while promoting the book. The linguistic conflation goes like this: direct air capture (DAC) as practiced at the Orca facility in Iceland is carbon capture and storage, and therefore any mention of carbon capture and storage is a reference to direct air capture. This conflation has resulted in statements by Greta that either sound like an endorsement of large scale fossil fuel CCS (but are not), or statements about DAC as a form of CCS that can easily be refuted by the existence of facilities like the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line.
No respectable adult public figure could get away with such a gross conflation, and since Greta is young, it is not fair to contend that she is acting on behalf of some kind of self serving agenda. Looking at the extensive list of accomplished and well positioned expert contributors, and being mindful of the extensive editorial effort it takes to produce a non-fiction book, it’s reasonable to assume that there were many adults of professional standing who let Greta’s conflation make it into the book and into her collection of talking points for its promotion.
Interview with Samira Ahmed:
Greta Thunberg: The Climate Event | Southbank Centre – 31 October 2022
I wonder if there are any technologies which have impressed you which you think are a legitmate part of the solution?
I mean, many. I mean, for example carbon capture and storage is something we must invest every possible resource in.
“I haven’t met a politician ready to do what it takes”: Greta Thunberg and Björk in conversation
BG: In your book, you point out that if there were as many carbon capture storage (CCS) facilities in the world as there are oil refineries, you’d start to see some results. Every country needs to be doing them, and it’s one solution of thousands. The fact that there is one place in Iceland doing it now, unfortunately, is not going to change a lot.
GT: Yes, the largest carbon capture storage facility in the world is in Iceland. And I remember in Stockholm, there were big campaigns where energy companies posted pictures of that facility saying, “Yeah, this is the future.” It was greenwashing! That facility, if all goes according to plan, will be able to capture about three seconds’ worth of our annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to one climate scientist’s calculations. They are not only being used as a way of greenwashing and legitimising the bad things we are doing now, but we also fail to invest in them – which is very contradictory, to say the least!
Catherine McKenna is the former environment minister of Canada, a Powering Past Coal Alliance leader, and the current chair of the United Nations – High-level Expert Group on the Net-zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities. McKenna was one of the earliest and most prolific users of the terms “unabated” and “traditional” regarding coal and other fossil fuels. Under her leadership Canada, and Alberta in particular, made huge strides towards large scale CCUS for tar sands and gas.
When visiting the SaskPower – Boundary Dam facility in 2016 McKenna articulated a position in favor of CCS/CCUS as a climate ‘solution’ that would benefit Canada.
So when you have carbon capture and storage, that’s certainly an innovative solution — a made-in-Canada solution
In June of 2021 the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) which has long held a position in favor of CCS/CCUS as part of their ‘2 degree solution’, joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance.
The PPCA is a coalition of national and sub-national governments, businesses and organizations working to advance the transition from unabated coal power generation to clean energy.
Naomi Klein writes non-linear prose, or what I like to call “project managed prose”. A journalist who is one of the sources for her book ‘This Changes Everything’ told me that she largely assembles the prose from research provided by assistants. Klein’s chapters are built around themes rather than developing a compelling thesis. Instead of framing the use of anthropogenic CO2 as a new “fossil fuel frontier”, Klein used her acknowledgement of the capacity of CO2-EOR (enhanced oil recovery) to vastly expand proven oil reserves as an opportunity to speak against “overall emissions” rather than the growing political will and the track record of the fossil fuel industry as exemplified by the fracking boom.
In the years following the release of Klein’s book, she has never returned to the subject of CO2-EOR in the US or Canada. In that time extensive efforts have been made in the US to furnish big oil, gas, coal and biomass with a tax credit that will operate as an effective subsidy. In Canada the largest CO2 pipeline on earth, the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, was built to supply CO2 captured from tar sands to a CO2-EOR project
This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein, 2014
Chapter. ‘NO MESSIAHS: The Green Billionaires Won’t Save Us’.
We need to consider what is meant by “overall carbon footprint”. How can we include the emissions from oil that is sold on and its emissions created in another country. Klein’s book was written before the ‘scopes of emissions’ were well understood.
While more research is needed on the overall carbon footprint of EOR, one striking modeling study examined a similar proposal that would use CO2 captured not from the air but directly from coal plants. It found that the emissions benefit of sequestering CO2 would be more than canceled out by all that extra oil: on a system-wide basis, the process could still end up releasing about four times as much CO2 as it would save.52 Moreover, much of this is oil that is currently considered unrecoverable—i.e., not even counted in current proven reserves, which as we know already represents five times more than we can safely burn. Any technology that can quadruple proven reserves in the U.S. alone is a climate menace, not a climate solution.
Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum launched with the help of the International Energy Agency
European Union Carbon Capture and Storage Stakeholder Dialogue:
“We’ll never reach negative emissions without CCS.” Anonymous former Climate Action Network Europe representative.
Design to Win plan completed.
ClimateWorks Foundation and European Climate Foundation are created.
Clean Energy Ministerial launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
350.org sabotage of the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba.
1 Sky and 350 merged with the help of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Sustainable Development Program.
People’s Climate March demonstrates coordinated messaging strategy and the dominance of movement generation by philanthropy. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund – Sustainable Development program played a central role in establishing the ‘This Changes Everything’ project which went beyond the book and documentary establishing the concept of ‘Metrics as a proxy for social change’.
Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ treated like a holy text within the climate justice movement.
Paris Agreement produces Nationally Determined Contributions placing focus on emissions reduction and management.
Greta and Extinction Rebellion arrive around the same time the IPCC released it’s AR5 report. While much focus was put on the dire warnings from IPCC Working Group 1 (‘the science’ and budgets), the output of Working Group 3 (mitigation) were almost entirely ignored.
Greta Thunberg visits New York at the invitation of Antonio Guterres who sent his assistant to speak the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative the night before Greta’s big speech.
Glasgow COP 26. All fossil fuel phase-out commitments contain the qualifier ‘unabated’. IEA modelling contains multiple uses of the qualifier ‘unabated’, but this fact is almost entirely ignored by the climate justice movement and their networks.
CCUS boom begins. New projects announced on every continent. The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line and the Northern Endurance Partnership/East Coast Cluster are almost entirely ignored.
Part 3. Industry Readiness
Value adding CO2 as a waste product
Anthropogenic CO2 is seen as valuable for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a practice used to access the remnant oil in depleted oil fields. Liquefied CO2 is pumped into depleted wells along with water in a process called water alternating gas (WAG) miscible flooding. The CO2 is said to integrate with the rock matrix during the WAG process, thereby sequestering it.
The oil industry, especially in the US, has known for decades what could be achieved if they had access to anthropogenic CO2. Companies like Exxon have been tapping geological formations called CO2 domes for decades. The naturally occurring CO2 that accumulates in these domes is liquefied and used for EOR.
Public figures like Naomi Klein are more than aware of the potential increase in proven oil reserves if anthropogenic CO2 can be deployed for EOR. In her book ‘This Changes Everything’ Klein cites research asserting that CO2-EOR using anthropogenic CO2 could quadruple proven US oil reserves. It is clear that almost nobody, not even Klein herself, have acted to resist the efforts to develop financial instruments and effective subsidies for CO2-EOR, and the other forms of energy production that will produce captured CO2.
Refining technology needing only CO2 transport and storage infrastructure
Two crucial technological developments that are applied widely in fossil fuel refining and processing need to be understood in the context of the oil and gas industry’s plans for blue hydrogen production and the expanding deployment of biomass as a feed stock for decarbonisation.
It is important to understand that the energy and refining industries produce and use hydrogen routinely. Industry has the capability to direct CO2 streams that would otherwise be vented to the atmosphere into transport and storage infrastructure such as pipelines and export hubs.
Steam methane reforming
Steam methane reforming is the most common method for producing hydrogen from gas, biomass and derivatives from oil. Refiners use high pressure steam (H2O) with gas (CH4) to produce hydrogen (H2) and CO2. The CO2 is conventionally vented off (grey hydrogen), but can be captured for storage and other uses (blue hydrogen).
Cracking is a key technology in the evolution of processing oil, gas, coal and biomass. Unlike fractional distillation which is the foundational technology used by the fossil fuel industry to separate various compounds found in extracted feed stocks (oil, gas, and coal), cracking separates feed stocks into their constituent molecules. These molecules can be reconstituted into synthetic fuels. Cracking is generally seen as a set of more efficient process for producing alkines (derivatives from refining).
Hydrocracking is used extensively in combination with catalytic cracking by refiners for conversion/purification of feed stocks. Industry leaders regard hydrogen as ‘indispensable’ to the refining industry, and for future transport and energy needs. The oil, gas, biomass and coal industries are well positioned to deploy blue hydrogen when access to CO2 transport and storage is made available because existing technology allows for minimal retooling to capture waste CO2.
The CCUS boom has begun. This can be discerned by a dramatic increase in political support for approval and financing of CCS projects, and the number of new projects being announced. The most advanced projects rarely receive attention from climate campaigners, and their connections in the mainstream and liberal media.
Navigator and Summit CO2 pipelines, Oxy Low Carbon DAC for CO2-EOR, Houston Ship Channel, monumental expansions to the 45Q tax credit and other support under the IRA
The fracking boom was a boondoggle. It did damage to nature and delivered throughput of resources for business as usual. Many critics point to fundamental signifiers of the boondoggle that is the fracking industry. David Wallace-Wells summed up the loss making mega-venture that has only recently begun turning a profit.
Perhaps the most striking fact about the American hydraulic-fracturing boom, though, is unknown to all but the most discriminating consumers of energy news: Fracking has been, for nearly all of its history, a money-losing boondoggle, profitable only recently, after being propped up by so much investment from venture capital and Wall Street that it resembled less an efficient-markets no-brainer and more a speculative empire of bubbles like Uber and WeWork.
Countless commentators and members of the public have asserted to me that carbon capture and storage is a ‘boondoggle’ or words to that effect. Each of them has neglected to explain how CCS being a boondoggle obviates the need to be vigilant in monitoring the political will. In these discussions I raise the specter of a new fossil fuel extraction boom and point to the Halliburton Loophole that laid the crucial groundwork for fracking in the US, but commentators and members of the public generally refuse to join the dots.
In a recent explainer, Food and Water Watch asserted that CCS was a ‘boondoggle’, but laid most of the responsibility at the feet of “industry execs”. We know from the fracking boom that to build a boondoggle takes extensive and coordinated efforts over time. We know that efforts to establish the fracking boom required subversion of regulatory processes and protections. Why is it that Food and Water Watch can properly identify the threat, but seem unmotivated to unpack the political will?
Carbon Capture is a Multi-Purpose Boondoggle
There’s hardly a dirty energy that carbon capture doesn’t prop up. The fossil fuel industry plans to use it to revive dying coal and fracked gas plants. If allowed, they’ll attach it to hydrogen power generation derived from fracked gas.
New developments are coming thick and fast as part of the CCUS boom. The recent announcement that the ADNOC CEO will be appointed to COP28 as president is of special significance. ADNOC are leading proponents of blue ammonia which is a stable carrier for hydrogen and a useful product for chemicals manufacturers who want to go net zero. They are also, along with Saudi Arabia, Canada and the US, leading proponents of CO2-EOR. The COP 28 team are reportedly sharing an office building with ADNOC.
The main COP28 team is using two stories of an 11-floor office building in Abu Dhabi also used by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology located next to ADNOC’s headquarters.
When a group of young climate campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, met with the IEA boss Fatih Birol in Davos recently, neither the young panelists, nor any of the assembled media took the opportunity to ask the long term supporter of fossil fuel CCS about his frequent statements in support of CCS or his organisation’s consistent work to forward CCS under the banner of ‘clean energy’.
The CO2 pipeline frenzy in the US mid west states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska appears to have accelerated after the Inflation Reduction Act delivered the long anticipated 45Q tax credit expansions. Land owners, including First Nations report aggressive tactics from pipeline and CO2 storage companies. Land owners in North Dakota recently provided testimony in support of a bill sponsored by a republican state senator. The bill would give greater negotiating rights to land owners against the might of pipeline and storage companies.
Behind all the discussion around ‘Exxon knew’ is the reality that oil companies in the US have been tapping naturally occurring CO2 domes to supply enhanced oil recovery projects for decades. It’s reasonable to assert that the oil industry has retained latent demand for anthropogenic CO2. It’s reasonable to assert that if Exxon knew, then they also knew that they can exploit the political and lobbying environment to engineer demand for CCS to supply anthropogenic CO2 for EOR. One of the benefits to Exxon from hiding their knowledge of the science of climate change is avoiding scrutiny of the methods used in CO2-EOR, the risks posed by the pipelines used to transport CO2, and the potential to massively expand proven reserves.
It’s clear that Exxon have a significant interest in CO2-EOR and CCS. Exxon are a partner in multiple CCS projects including Chevron’s Gorgon Gas Project and with Pertamina in a cooperation agreement on developing CCS and CCUS in South Sumatra, East Kalimantan, and West Java.
Climate campaigners find it extremely difficult to comprehend the contentions made by Wrong Kind of Green members that philanthropy, through setting the terms of funding, and through expansive networks, has effectively shaped climate campaigning through constraining the acceptable limits of discussion. Rather than attempting to falsify our contentions by looking at the networks, talking points and funding highlighted in our analyses, climate campaigners merely dismiss our arguments without investigation or ignore us completely. Climate campaigners need to realise that the ultimate objective of the powerful is always more business as usual which is what CCS, CCUS and BECCS provide.
The media, through silence and echoing supplied talking points, smooths the path for philanthropy to continue fostering the conflated logics and errant silences of climate campaigners. There are any number of media organs in thrall to the false narratives provided by captive thinkers working at the behest of climate NGOs. The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Intercept, and The Atlantic are prominent among the many captive agencies. The collective effect of narrative adherence is repetition which produces a sense that certain assertions of fact are true. This can be observed in the misreporting of the modelling produced by the International Energy Agency.
It is highly likely that governments have engaged nudge units to develop guides to framing issues to elicit public compliance with the net zero agenda. We know that the UK has engaged the Nudge Unit who developed ‘principles for successful behaviour change’ on behalf of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. While corporate behaviour is heading very quickly toward installing significant decarbonisation infrastructure with the full support of governments, ordinary people are being encouraged to accept the impacts of net zero strategies. We should not assume that community consultations and public feedback will do anything to slow the long term plans for CCS, CCUS and BECCS, indeed it is likely the nudge units will adapt their messages to ensure compliance with the existing agenda to deliver business as usual, but with some CO2 abatement.
In order to shape the direct actions of activists, the statements of experts, and the language of the global consensus machine, networked power – constituted by the collective agenda of governments, corporations and philanthropy – appeals to self interest. Self censorship is an immediate response to the perceived risk of speaking outside the acceptable limits of discussion. The collective effect of self interest is the reinforcement of the power of the assigned/acceptable/prescribed talking points and the logical conflations embedded within them.
Decisive direct action that contributes to the public consciousness of what is really happening in the extractivist industries is what is necessary. If Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and other groups really wanted to confront the projects of the most wealthy oil, gas, coal and biomass proponents then they would be occupying and protesting the many new decarbonisation hubs in planning or under construction. If Just Stop Oil were intent on truly disrupting powerful oil and gas interests then they would be, for example, occupying sites in Hull and Middlesborough where BP and Equinor are developing new blue hydrogen projects. The UK Climate and Energy Minister, Graham Stuart has made it very clear that the political will is behind the decarbonisation plans of big oil, gas, coal and biomass. There is no excuse for not identifying the political will. It is right to ask why groups like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil will not acknowledge the projects being built at their back door.
Plans for large scale CCS are part of the big oil and gas long game. The burning of biomass as a feed stock with CCS is the crucial linchpin in the net zero plans. We know that billionaire philanthropists like Chris Hohn, their impact philanthropy agents like John Podesta, and their well funded re-granting NGOs like the European Climate Foundation headed up by Laurence Tubiana hold strongly to this position. These individuals know on a deep level that BECCS is part of the long game to value-add CO2 as a waste turning it into feed stock to perpetuate the stranglehold of big oil and gas.
If you want to understand why the COP 26 phase-out commitments specified “unabated” fossil fuels, why COP 27 was overloaded with oil and gas executives, and why COP 28 will be headed up by a proponent of blue ammonia and CO2 enhanced oil recovery, then I suggest watching the Atlantic Council video I linked at the start of this briefing.
I stumbled onto the opportunity to make a request for declaration of Adani’s rail corridor as a ‘service’ by chance. I was seeking information from the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) about the Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) declaration request made in October 2019 when they made me aware that I could make a request. QCA staff informed me that the MCG request was found to be “out of scope” and no recommendations were given to the treasurer for consideration. I recognised an opportunity to access valuable information about Adani’s secretive rail plans.
A short statement was placed on the QCA website following the MCG request:
On 24 October 2019, we received a request from the Mackay Conservation Group to review and recommend declaration of Adani Australia’s proposed Carmichael rail network for regulation by the QCA under Part 5 of the QCA Act.
After review it was determined that at the time there was no scope for the QCA to substantively consider the request to declare the proposed Carmichael rail network.
I have to say the QCA did not manage my expectations well. I didn’t get a sense that they deal with members of the public very often, but they provided me with every courtesy that the QCA Act would allow. I semi-blindly worked my way through the submission process which included an opportunity to respond to material from Adani.
When my contact at the QCA informed me that they had provided recommendations to the treasurer following my request, I asked if that meant it was found to be “in scope”, but they declined to give me an answer. Clearly the QCA provided recommendations following my request because the infrastructure making up the ‘facility’ providing the ‘service’ was more developed than it was in October 2019 allowing them to substantively consider my application. The consideration given by the QCA is outlined in their letter of recommendations provided to the treasurer:
We provided Mr Swifte with an opportunity to comment on Adani’s submissions, including Adani’s submission that his request was not made in good faith.
The QCA recommended that my request be found to be in ‘bad faith’, but the treasurer found that my request did not satisfy the access criteria and decided against making a declaration on that basis. The most significant failing of my request was the lack of supporting information regarding foreseeable demand and the dependent markets that come with that demand.
*The problem we have is that all the other proposed Galilee Basin coal mines have been effectively mothballed while Adani has established its own: vertically integrated rail corridor developer and rail infrastructure manager; rolling stock operators; and port operations. Without any firm information about other market operators and their service providers there is no way to foresee demand.
While my request failed to secure a declaration, it succeeded in unpacking some key components of Adani’s plans to make their rail corridor operational.
The following statement can be found on the QCA website along with links to the QCA recommendations and the treasurer’s statement of reasons:
On 6 September 2021, we received a request to review and recommend declaration of the Carmichael rail network service under Part 5 of the QCA Act.
Part 5 sets out the criteria for declaration recommendations, as well as the steps that are required before we can recommend to the Minister that a service be declared.
On 17 December, we provided our recommendation (see below) to the Minister, in accordance with section 79(1) of the QCA Act.
On 17 March, the Treasurer’s decision on this matter was published in the Queensland Government Gazette (Extraordinary Queensland Government Gazette no 41, vol 389).
The QCA gave me the opportunity to add to my initial request and respond to two letters provided by Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow representing Adani’s rail proponent Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd. While both letters made roughly the same arguments, the second was supported by legal advice regarding requests made in bad faith, the ‘service’ under consideration and the QCA Act access criteria. I had the opportunity to offer counter-arguments to Lucas Dow’s assertions about the non-operational state of the Carmichael Rail Network (CRN). Cameron Dick and Shane Doyle QC both concurred with my interpretation of Section 72 of the QCA Act.
In a letter to the QCA CEO on September 15, 2021 Lucas Dow stated:
The CRN remains under construction and has not been commissioned (and is therefore not yet operational). At this point, it is not a facility that is sufficiently developed to be capable of supplying a service of the kind contemplated by s 77(1) of the QCA Act.
I responded on October 4, 2021 by arguing that the QCA Act can apply to a service that can be provided in the future:
In regard to the assertion that because the Carmichael Rail Network is not yet commissioned or operational and therefore “it is not a facility that is sufficiently developed to be capable of supplying a service of the kind contemplated by s 77(1) of the QCA Act.”, I would direct you to Section 70 ‘Meaning of a facility’ and Section 72 ‘Meaning of service’ of the QCA Act. Section 70(1)(a) reads “rail transport infrastructure”. Section 72(1) reads “Service is a service provided or to be provided, by means of a facility”.
In a letter to the QCA CEO on October 5, 2021 Lucas Dow restated his position:
(i) The CRN is not operational, and no coal has been railed, so matters such as the likely cost of the facility and technical and operational characteristics of the facility and service are not able to be determined.
The redacted legal advice letter dated October 8, 2021 that accompanied the Lucas Dow letter dated October 5, 2021 contains an interpretation of the QCA Act, Section 72(1) that concurred with my interpretation. Section 4.2 of the ‘Statement of Reasons’ provided to me by the Queensland Treasury Office on March 16, 2022 contains a refutation of Lucas Dow’s argument.
4.2.5 I accept the submissions made by Mr Swifte and in Mr Doyle’s advice that the QCA Act permits declaration of a service that is anticipated or a future service or a service associated with an anticipated or future facility. For this reason, I do not accept Adani’s submission that the application for declaration cannot be assessed in relation to the CRN service/facility as it is not sufficiently developed.
On October 27, 2021 I sent through my final responses in support of my request. This was the same day that Bowen Rail Company received its rolling stock operator accreditation from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR). One week earlier Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd varied their ONRSR accreditation for the third time that year. I had been so busy with my various complaints to the Office of the Coordinator-General and the Ombudsman that I had neglected to check the ONRSR website which had switched to real time reporting of new accreditations and variations.
On November 15, 2021 Bowen Rail Company were delayed by activists while load testing their new locomotives on Aurizon rail infrastructure. By late December Adani were claiming that they had their first shipment of export coal ready to go. It is clear that the rail infrastructure was very close to being operational at the time I made my request.
Defining the facility and the service ‘to be provided’
Lucas Dow’s redacted October 5, 2022 letter includes the assertion that my description of ‘the service’ which was amended at the request of the QCA was wrong in every key respect:
(A) fails to properly define the facility, the service or the owner/operator;
The information that would clarify my understanding and support the Adani CEO’s argument is either not included in the letter/legal advice or is part of the redacted sections of each document.
Here’s my description of ‘the service’ before making amendments to improve clarity which I negotiated with QCA staff:
Rail service infrastructure known as Carmichael Rail Network generally and as the North Galilee Basin Rail Project combined with Separable Portion 1 of the rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project specifically.
The amended description of ‘the service’:
the service that is the use of the Rail service infrastructure known as Carmichael Rail Network generally and as the North Galilee Basin Rail Project combined with Separable Portion 1 of the rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project specifically
In my request I asserted that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd were the likely owner/operator of the service to be provided having assumed rail infrastructure management accreditations in May 2017 when they were relinquished by Adani Mining Pty Ltd. Documents exist on the public record explaining that the CRN is constituted of two sections attached to two projects, but sharing a single proponent, Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd. One of those documents is titled ‘Adani Infrastructure Pty Ltd: Supporting Information for an Application for a Water Licence to Take Unallocated Water from the Strategic Reserve in Sub-Catchment E of the Burdekin Basin’ that was included in the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy right to information disclosure 16-417 made to Lock the Gate. The application for a water licence by Adani Infrastructure Pty Ltd was intended to facilitate the North Galilee Water Scheme.
At the time of the application Adani Mining Pty Ltd were still listed as the rail proponent by the Office of the Coordinator-General. It was not until May 2018 that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd were formally acknowledged as the rail proponent for both the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) and North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR).
Here is a quote from RTI 16-417(A). I’ve made key phrases bold for emphasis:
Due to the size of the Project, Adani Mining has progressed the assessment for much of the rail, and the Port, separately to the CCP. The entire rail line from the mine to the Port of Abbot Point will be approximately 388 kilometres (km) long, known as the Carmichael Rail Network (CRN). The proponent for the CRN is the Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as trustee for the Carmichael Rail Network Trust.
The CRN will comprise one contiguous rail corridor that has been subject to two separate assessments: the first 77 km (called the Carmichael Rail Line) was included in the CCP EIS and SEIS documentation, whilst the remaining 311 km was assessed as the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR Project).
The Carmichael Rail Line starts from the proposed Carmichael Mine, and heads east towards Mistake Creek west of the Gregory Developmental Road. This section of rail was assessed as part of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project EIS, SEIS and AEIS, in which it was known as Separable Portion 1 (SP1). The NGBR section of rail consists of approximately 311 km standard gauge rail from the connection with SP1 to the Port of Abbot Point.
‘Adani Infrastructure Pty Ltd: Supporting Information for an Application for a Water Licence to Take Unallocated Water from the Strategic Reserve in Sub-Catchment E of the Burdekin Basin’
The meaning of “not made in good faith”
I have never made a secret of the fact that I don’t want Adani’s rail corridor to succeed. Competition law in Queensland is founded on the assumption that infrastructure that is already approved and under development should exist and function well. My world view does not embrace the primacy of resource development and I have no faith in the regulatory frameworks and functions that are currently in place. My stated intention was to disclose information about the operations of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd in anticipation of the opening of the means of export for Galilee Basin coal.
In the recommendations provided by the QCA is a quote from my final responses that captures my intentions and appeals to the desire for effective regulation:
I am exercising my fiduciary responsibility as a citizen/resident of Queensland to support the development of a political economy that does not damage the rights and interests of those impacted by infrastructure of ‘state significance’. Providing the QCA with ample time to investigate an anticipated facility that is to provide a service can help deliver robust regulation and transparency to support competition.
My request was assessed under Part 5 of the QCA Act which identifies a concern with “significant infrastructure” in Section 69(E), Object of Part 5:
The object of this part is to promote the economically efficient operation of, use of and investment in, significant infrastructure by which services are provided, with the effect of promoting effective competition in upstream and downstream markets.
Part 5: Section 76(2)(c) on ‘access criteria’ states:
that the facility for the service is significant, having regard to its size or its importance to the Queensland economy;
The idea of ‘importance’ to the economy is the object under contestation for some First Nations people, some farmers, environmentalists and climate campaigners. It is the fact that I want to see Adani’s rail corridor scrutinised in the public sphere and that I see the importance of the CRN not succeeding that I was not seen as making my request in ‘good faith’.
Shane Doyle QC cited a phrase from case law “fidelity to the bargain” in reference to how ‘good faith’ might be understood under the QCA Act:
an obligation to act honestly and with a fidelity to the bargain; an obligation not to act dishonestly and not to act to undermine the bargain entered or the substance of the contractual benefit bargained for; and an obligation to act reasonably and with fair dealing having regard to the interests of the parties (which will, inevitably, at times conflict) and to the provisions, aims and purposes of the contract, objectively ascertained.
Paciocco v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd  FCAFC 50 – BarNet Jade – BarNet Jade
The way I understand it: I entered into a preexisting bargain in which the success of infrastructure deemed “significant” by government and industry is assumed to be the primary objective.
A trigger for the treasurer
Under the QCA Act, Section 77(2) Cameron Dick can choose to declare a service without the need for a request from an industry group, advocacy organisation or member of the public:
The Minister may ask the authority to consider whether a particular service should be declared by the Minister.
Section 79(5) of the QCA Act affirms that “the Minister” can make a request to the QCA for declaration:
Unless the request is made by the Minister, the authority must give a copy of the request to the Minister with the recommendation.
The Queensland treasurer can expedite proceedings and bring a declaration forward, but he is limited by a lack of information regarding foreseeable demand. Without knowledge of the Adani-Aurizon access agreement we cannot know the upper limits for coal haulage on the CRN, and without a concrete upper limit for export volumes from the Carmichael mine in the short and long term we cannot properly assess the capacity for Adani to support the promised multi-user infrastructure. The decision to build a narrow gauge rail corridor places hard limits on expanding the CRN capacity beyond 60 mpta.
Waiting for the Aurizon-Adani access agreement
The announcement of an access agreement between Adani and Aurizon – which I’m assuming is already complete – is the next key event to take place. It will likely immediately precede commercial operation or coincide with the announcement of a start date. Adani are unlikely to allow a period of scrutiny of the deal with Aurizon before commercial operations begin.
I tried to sound out my contact at the QCA regarding the likelihood of an access agreement coming through very soon, but they were not forthcoming. Access agreements are squarely within the QCA remit. I’m working with the assumption that the QCA will be called-in when the access agreement is announced.
From my reading of the QCA Act I cannot discern any triggers for publication at any time near the announcement of commencement of commercial operations. It is the information that makes it onto the public record that is of vital importance right now. There appears to be plenty of scope in the QCA Act for the regulator to seek information from Aurizon as an access provider of a declared service and Adani as an access seeker.
All this is speculative of course. I am no expert at this stuff and I wish there were more specialists speaking up. As a generalist my expertise is not in competition law or economic development, but in unpacking processes, identifying primary sources, and recognising patterns in language and information giving. I’m mindful that the CRN project is unprecedented in the history of the QCA Act.
The multi-user promise and royalty deal
There is very little information on the public record regarding Adani’s revised rail corridor. I can’t explain why the Office of the Coordinator-General has not seen fit to update the NGBR project page. I imagine that severing more than 100km of rail corridor would require some kind of ‘change request’ under the State Development and Public Works Organisations Act. The most recent project variation for the NGBR under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) dated 25 August 2021 contains information about the “approved action” wherein the NGBR project is a 310km corridor. The variation document contains a map of the original NGBR corridor segmented into individual maps for each section including the sections that were severed in 2018. It should be noted that Adani Mining Pty Ltd remain the EPBC approval holder despite Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd being appointed as rail proponent for the NGBR and CCMR. Nothing exists on the public record to demonstrate how Adani’s revised rail corridor plan was instituted.
VARIATION OF CONDITIONS ATTACHED TO APPROVAL: North Galilee Basin Rail Project, Abbot Point to Galilee Basin, Queensland (EPBC 2013/6885)
The royalty deferral deal is, in theory, contingent on Adani keeping their multi-user promise. This promise can only be kept if the access agreement and upgrades to Aurizon infrastructure demonstrate that Adani’s vertically integrated facility would retain sufficient capacity to provide a service to third parties. Other coal miners and their haulage providers would be the third parties seeking access to the CRN service. We don’t know if Adani’s statements about the capacity of the revised narrow gauge corridor are based in fact. The capacity of the original corridor was 100 mtpa with no need for an access agreement with Aurizon. The capacity of the new corridor is – as reported by Adani – is 40 mtpa. We are told in media statements put out by Adani that they will ramp up from 10 to 27.5 mtpa over a decade. It seems that without the QCA or the treasurer acting proactively, the QCA are forced to respond reactively to the approaches of third parties before any transparent multi-user framework can crystallise.
*The problem we have is that the Queensland government has used words like “open” and “transparent”, but each time they are tested they just kick the can down the road. We know almost nothing about the royalty deal, barely anything about the revised rail corridor, and nothing about how the Queensland government will make Adani keep its multi-user promise.
The claim made by the Queensland government is that under the secret ‘transparent policy framework’, Adani will be held to its multi-user promise. It is not clear how this instrument might be enforced other than by prospective third parties approaching the QCA with information about foreseeable demand. I imagine that in the worst case scenario the Queensland government would issue a demand for royalties with interest.
In his October 5, 2021 letter Lucas Dow stated that the policy to support the multi-user promise will be in place “at or around” the time the CRN commences operation. I can find no statements demonstrating that the Queensland government have made the timing of the release of Adani’s access policy clear. Any access policy would have to fit within the QCA Act access regime which is contingent upon the declaration of a service. Will Adani’s open access policy also be a secret?
Lucas Dow’s October 5, 2021 letter offers arguments to support the assertion that my request was “premature”. In this quote he indicates that an access framework has already been developed:
Adani has not yet put in place its commercial framework governing access to the CRN. As Mr Swifte is aware, Adani and the Queensland Government (State) have made clear that an open access policy will be put in place by Adani, at or around the time that it commences operation. [REDACTED]. It is impossible for the QCA to meaningfully assess the impact of declaration without understanding the access framework already intended to apply.
Forums where rail boffins discuss technical aspects can be informative though not always reliable. I was interested to read discussion about Adani’s shift from a standard gauge, vertically integrated rail corridor to the present largely unspecified arrangements. Like all of us the boffins are left to speculate. There appeared to be agreement that Adani reached for a ‘gold plated’ standard gauge corridor knowing they could scale back to narrow gauge.
A comment from a member of RailPage.com.au forum following the announcement of Adani’s Plan B rail corridor:
Adani likes vertical integration operations and tries to keep it’s mining, transport, ports and power generation in-house – which is where the stand-alone standard gauge line fits in. I suspect the company is now more interested in getting the coal out of the ground and making money rather than bleeding any more cash on this project.
Aurizon’s Newlands System will also need capacity upgrades to carry Adani’s traffic, this will almost certainly include double tracking several sections and extending RCS (CTC signalling) south from Collinsville to Newlands. Tonnages north of Collinsville could exceed 80-million tonnes if existing tonnages and Adani traffic are combined. I can’t say it’s clear who will be paying for those upgrades, but I assume some sort of agreement has been made prior to this announcement.
I’m still reeling from an interview I heard on local radio yesterday where a leader of the frontline resistance, a member of Frontline Action on Coal interviewed a leader of what I call the ‘distributed resistance’, a person variously affiliated with the StopAdani Alliance. The StopAdani aligned activist, now connected with a group called Tipping Point, effectively stated that other than pressuring some more companies and ‘standing in solidarity’ the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners resisting the mine, the battle had been lost. To be clear; I listened to a conversation between a person who is in the best position to stop Galilee Basin coal trains and a person who represents the efforts of the best funded NGOs in the climate justice movement, and it seemed like they had both given up on stopping Adani’s rail corridor from becoming operational.
For me the battle is just heating up. I would urge those with legal and public administration backgrounds to step in and interrogate Adani’s shell companies while being mindful of the bias against disclosure being demonstrated by the Queensland and federal governments. Only a clear and thorough understanding of the information that does and does not exist on the public record can help us to understand the shell games played by extractivist corporations and their friends in the establishment.
On my recent visit to Melbourne by bus and train I made a trip down to Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula to see if I could find the building site for the hydrogen liquefaction facility designed to support Victoria’s Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project. A friend who lives locally came along with me on the Frankston train, we had planned to get a connecting bus onto Hastings, but my friend convinced me that we should get a car-share in Mordialloc and make the rest of the journey that way.
Reports in the media described the Kawasaki Heavy Industries facility as being built at the “Port of Hastings”. Our objective was to find the specific location, a street address, a map reference or both. We were confident we were on the right track shortly after exiting the Western Port Highway when we found pipeline markers running parallel to Frankston-Flinders Rd on our left as we headed south. We were even more confident when we saw the first of the Esso petroleum storage tanks to our left. We took a left turn where a rail spur crossed the road and another left onto Bayview Road. Where Bayview Road meets Long Island Drive we found the Kawasaki pilot site.
The pilot site location is more accurately described as being on Long Island Point, Hastings. The area was clearly established as an industrial export site long ago. Two Esso storage/export facilities are situated near two Bluescope Steel facilities. Both are serviced by rail spurs and, it should be assumed, pipeline infrastructure. We found some key information on public displays at the Hastings pier where the fishers moor their boats.
While we were in Hastings we picked up a copy of the Western Port News which was running a story by Keith Platt on the new Kawasaki facility and the resistance coming on the back of the ‘climate emergency’ declared by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council in August 2019. The Western Port Shire Council (WPSC) have commissioned a report on the Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hydrogen Engineering Australia project and a proposed container port. The report will likely be released sometime in April this year.
The HESC project has a 500 million price tag and includes the development of potential geological storage of CO2 sequestered from the Loy Yang brown coal to hydrogen facility in the Latrobe Valley near Traralgon. The WPSC may find itself up against the might of the Victorian and Australian governments in contesting the Kawasaki facility going beyond the pilot phase.
The CarbonNet CO2 storage project has been provided 150 million by the Victorian and federal governments so far. The HESC proponents downplay the sequestration component that would transform the hydrogen exported by Kawasaki Heavy Industries projects into “clean” or “blue” hydrogen. It is likely that the Loy Yang pilot will not immediately sequester the CO2 produced in the process of producing hydrogen from brown coal which is precisely what happened at the Gorgon Gas Project on Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast.
Ninety Mile Against Carbon Storage (NMACS) is a grass roots group based in Gippsland that has been campaigning against the CarbonNet project. In their project briefing they start by providing some important context about the 2 billion in federal funding for carbon capture and storage going back to 2009.
When the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships Program was established in 2009 by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd it was a means of securing a low-emissions future for coal by supporting the construction and demonstration of large-scale integrated CCS projects in Australia.
NMACS point out that the CarbonNet project is one of the survivors of the CCS Flagships program and is heavily supported by the state and federal governments.
Supporting grass roots groups is of vital importance right now. The political will evidenced by the involvement of the Australian, Victorian and Japanese government in support of corporate interests in both Australia and Japan shows that grass roots groups are heavily out gunned. They are fighting plans that have been developed since at least 2009 when former federal energy minister Martin Ferguson attended the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum hosted under the banner of the International Energy Agency’s, Clean Energy Ministerial process.
The Western Port Peninsula Protection Council and the Preserve Western Port Action Group have expressed concerns about possible dredging and climate impacts from fossil hydrogen production preceding any CO2 sequestration.
Notes from the Fossil Frontlines Tour Westernport Bay
There is still much to be unpacked about how the HESC project came to be. Very little information is available from the bigger environmental organisations and their networks into think tanks and the media. This is consistent with the general absence of intelligence and analysis coming from the big environmental organisations in regard to CCS projects. The HESC website provides some key information including an FAQs page.
Lastly, a piece called ‘Does writing books still matter in an era of environmental catastrophe?’ by Briohny Doyle gives a little context to the situation in Gippsland. It is perhaps the most widely read piece of writing to actually attend to the issue of CCS plans for the HESC project.
The rig off Paradise Beach is an experimental driller for “Carbon Net”, a carbon capture and storage project capable of processing a promotional video extols, “the equivalent of CO2 emissions from around one million cars every year that it operates”. The comparison is misleading however, as Carbon Net will not capture emissions from the air but from high polluting industrial sites in the Latrobe Valley, piping them seaward to inject into layers of sandstone deep in Bass Strait.
The public record shows us that four years ago Adani began negotiating with local councils under the corporate banner of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRN) for the purposes of developing their Galilee Basin coal complex businesses. But it wasn’t until March of 2018 that Adani formally advised the Queensland Coordinator General (CG) of the change of name of the proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) from Adani Mining Pty Ltd to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd, and the addition of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as the rail proponent for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR).
I was prompted to prepare a log of key dates and the primary sources that confirm them when I discovered an RTI (Right to Information) disclosure made to Lock the Gate Alliance (LGTA) in July 2019. The disclosure related to the North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) application by Adani and contains the revelation that Adani regarded Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as the proponent for the rail component of both the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project more than a year before they informed the Coordinator General of the change of proponent. Crucially the disclosure shows that the Queensland government were informed, on the eve of the senate estimates hearings into the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), that Adani were running a new rail proponent. The release of the LGTA disclosure was made more than 2 years after the original RTI application, this time frame strongly suggests that LGTA made at least 2 appeals before achieving success.
Under the act that governs the functioning of the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) the Coordinator General can, in writing, permit a proponent to delay reporting a change of proponent details for an unspecified period. It is likely that at some point in late 2016 Adani requested written advice from the CG indicating that they had unlimited time to inform them of a change of proponent. My understanding of the relevant act, the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act), is limited, but it is plain to see that it confers extraordinary, and unprecedented powers and privileges for large scale and controversial mining developments. This makes interpretation of Adani’s actions, sanctioned by the Coordinator General, extremely difficult to analyse. I would argue that the various NGOs and think tanks networked with the Stop Adani Alliance and the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) collectively possess the capacity to apply knowledge of the SDPWO Act to good effect. What remains to be done is to follow up previous RTI applications with targeted applications using the terms “Carmichael Rail Network” and “ Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd”.
It is clear that federal Liberal National Party (LNP) politicians were aware that Adani was running a secret proponent and it is clear Queensland Labor politicians were aware that Adani was running a secret proponent. Both parties had access to commercial in confidence information about the NAIF loan applicant. My question is why were Larissa Waters and members of the Stop Adani Alliance confident that they knew the name of the secret proponent? The crucial primary sources supporting the claims made in this document from Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), and this, and this article by Stephen Long are not available online. The first specific contention made by EJA and Stephen Long in the lead up to senate estimates hearings was that the Adani loan applicant was one of a group of shell companies which included Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd whose holding companies were housed in the Cayman Islands. The second contention was that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was the holder of the royalty deed. In the absence of primary sources, these claims, supported by people like Adam Walters – principal researcher and Energy Resource Insights, and associate professor Thomas Clarke – director of the Centre for Corporate Governance at UTS do not form a compelling case identifying which Adani entity was applying for the NAIF loan.
In a written question on notice to Matt Canavan’s portfolio in March 2017 Larissa Waters asserted that “the company that owns their proposal for the railway line is ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands”. The confidence shown by Larissa Waters in asserting that she knows which Adani entity was the NAIF loan applicant was not supported by publicly available documents or evidence that those documents exist. Either Larissa Waters’ confidence came from her belief in the voracity of the claims made by Stephen Long and EJA, or it came from knowing that Adani had communicated to the Queensland government 2 months earlier that they were running a different proponent to the one listed on the DSDMIP website. It’s quite possible that the rumour mill provided Larissa Waters knowledge of Adani’s statements to the Queensland government. Was the existence of Adani’s secret proponent an open secret?
As far as I can tell, not a single RTI application in Queensland contains the words “Carmichael Rail Network” or “Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd”. Only 2 RTI disclosures mention Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd. The Greens and StopAdani Alliance members were very concerned about the specific Adani proponent in line for the NAIF loan, but once the NAIF loan was vetoed that concern evaporated. There is little to no evidence that any Greens politician, Stop Adani Alliance member or CANA member have made any effort to analyse or reveal the nature and function of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd.
Unpacking the part played by the Queensland and federal governments in masking the establishment of a new proponent necessarily requires the unpacking of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and Separable Portion 1 (SP1) (the remnants of the rail line proposed for the Carmichael mine). As I have demonstrated repeatedly in my blog, the Greens, StopAdani Alliance and CANA have no interest in unpacking the rail corridor and the deals done to establish Traditional Owner consent.
Background from my blog
‘References to NGBR in reports by environmental organisations about the NAIF concessional loan to Adani: Briefing Document’
Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP)
State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act)
Climate Action Network Australia (CANA)
Liberal National Party (LNP)
Environmental Justice Australia (EJA)
Separable Portion 1 (SP1)
21 key dates
The following is a list of 21 dates that represent the advancement of Adani’s spearhead contribution to the creation of the Galilee Basin coal complex. Very few of the sources and links have been cited by The Guardian Australia, Fairfax, ABC or NewsCorp journalists, even less has been shared by the Greens, StopAdani Alliance or Climate Action Network Australia members. I have included screen grabs whenever possible and have captured the text from each to demonstrate that the source documents are authentic.
Date: Jan 27, 2016
Source: Whitsunday RC minutes
Subject: Material change of use for rail infrastructure
Subject: Material change of use for rail infrastructure
12.1 2016/05/11.11 20150643 – REFERRAL ENTITY RESPONSE – APPLICATION FOR MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE FOR RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE (RAIL PACKAGE 3) IN THE GALILEE BASIN STATE DEVELOPMENT AREA, CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK PTY LTD
Subject: CRN ultimate holding company change from Caymans to Mauritius
08/09/2017 484 Change To Company
484D Change To
484N Changes To
08/09/2017 3 08/09/2017 7E9427173
Date: Sept 19, 2017
Source: We Suspect Silence blog and Riverine Protection Permit Exemption Requirements, Version 2.01, 13/11/2019
Subject: CRN made an ‘approved entity’
“On September 19, 2017 Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was added as an ‘approved entity’ for the purposes of ‘Riverine Protection Permit Exemption Requirements’. The available documents don’t indicate if Adani Mining Pty Ltd have ever applied for, or been added as an ‘approved entity’.”
Subject: Material change of use and approval of lease
12.12018/03/14.09 20170846 – DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION FOR DEVELOPMENT PERMIT FOR MATERIAL CHANGE OF USE -NON-RESIDENT WORKFORCE ACCOMMODATION (400 BED TEMPORARY CONSTRUCTION CAMP); AND OPERATIONAL WORKS – PETER DELAMOTHE ROAD, COLLINSVILLE, CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK PTY LTD
17.2Confidential Matters –Corporate Services 17.2.22018/03/14.25 APPROVAL OF LEASE CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK PTY LTD Moved by:P RAMAGE Seconded by:D CLARK Council resolves subject to the granting of Ministerial Consent under Section 236 (f) Local Government Regulation 2012 award the lease for Lot 87 SP 232119 to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd for an annual lease payment of $250,000 (excluding GST) per annum for a term of two years.
B. REASONS. Background 1. AECOM Australia Pty Ltd (referred to in this adjudication as the “claimant”) was engaged bythe Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (referred to in this adjudication as the “respondent”), to carry out engineering design services relating to the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project involving the: 1. development of the Carmichael Coal Mine; and 2. development of the Carmichael Rail Network, constituting the “work”.
Subject: CEO to negotiate and execute an interface agreement
Carmichael Rail Network (CRN) Interface Agreement
On 14 August 2018, Council authorised the Chief Executive Officer to “negotiate and execute an Interface Agreement regarding the CRN rail line interfaces with roads controlled by Council pursuant to section 60(1) of the Local Government Act 2009 (Qld)”. At that time, the draft Interface Agreement provided for two rail-road crossings, namely the proposed CRN rail line interfaces with Bulliwallah Road at Ch 353.654km and Stock Route U401 at Ch 322.100km. Due to the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project reconfiguration and the resultant proposal to maintain the current alignment of Moray Carmichael Boundary Road rather than to construct a realignment of the road, there is a new rail-road interface with Moray Carmichael Boundary Road. This Report provides further background with respect to the new rail-road interface with Moray Carmichael Boundary Road.
Resolution No.: 5838
Moved: Cr Jones Seconded: Cr Bethel
1. Extend the Chief Executive Officer’s authorisation to negotiate and execute an Interface Agreement regarding the CRN rail line interfaces with roads controlled by Council pursuant
Council is requested to note the draft agreement and basis for negotiations with Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Adani) and Carmichael Rail Network (CRN) and to authorise the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to progress negotiations.
Moved: Cr Vea VeaSeconded: Cr BethelThat Council:1. Notes the draft Infrastructure Access Agreement. 2. Authorises the Chief Executive Officer to continue negotiations with Adani Mining Pty Ltd and Carmichael Rail Network and report to Council again in March on progress and/or outcomes of negotiations prior to any formal agreement being reached.3. Acknowledge the effort and work from staff involved with getting this draft agreement to this point, in particular the Senior Advisor, former Executive Support Officer, Director Engineering and Infrastructure and Engineering and Infrastructure officers
Subject: Confidential deliberations on CRN inetrface agreement
PROCEDURAL MOTION:Resolution No.: 5973Moved: Cr Vea VeaSeconded: Cr LaceyThat Council close the meeting to the public at 12.06pmunder Local Government Regulations 2012Section 275 (1) (h) to deliberate on confidential report 11.1 Infrastructure Agreement Update and report 11.2 Carmichael Rail Network Interface Agreementand confidential discussions relating to report 10.1 Division 4 – Appointment to Vacancy of Office –Shortlisting of Nominees.
Closed under s275 (1) (h) other business for which a public discussion would be likely to prejudice the interests of the local government or someone else, or enable a person to gain a financial advantage.11.2Carmichael Rail Network –Interface Agreement
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This report is to provide Council with an overview of the content of the Carmichael Rail Network Interface Agreement for consideration and approval for execution.Resolution No.:5977 Moved: Cr Vea VeaSeconded: Cr JonesThat Council approve the Carmichael Rail Network Interface Agreement and authorise the Chief Executive Officer to execute and vary the Interface Agreement subject to:1. Consistency of the Interface Agreement with the Carmichael Mine Project Infrastructure Agreement; and 2. Satisfactory finalisation of the Interface Risk Management Plan (IRMP) Risk Assessment which is currently with an independent Rail Safety Consultant engaged by Council for review. Carried
Subject: Approval of infrastructure agreement with Adani
CONFIDENTIAL REPORT Closed under s275 (1) (h) other business for which a public discussion would be likely to prejudice the interests of the local government or someone else, or enable a person to gain a financial advantage. 11.1Infrastructure Access Agreement – Carmichael Mine and Rail Project EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Council is requested to approve the final draft agreement with Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Adani) and Carmichael Rail Network (CRN) and to authorise the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) to execute the Agreement. Resolution No.:6093 Moved: Cr JonesSeconded: Cr LaceyThat Council:1. Approves the final draft Infrastructure Access Agreement with Adani Mining Pty Ltd and Carmichael Rail Network 2. Authorises the Chief Executive Officer to finalise negotiations, execute, administer and vary the agreementto the extent that the variation or cumulative effect of the variations are not material. Carried
MEDIA RELEASE 18 October 2019 Martinus Rail partners with Adani to deliver $100 million rail contractAdani today announced the more than $100 million rail contracthas been awarded to Australian-founded and operated Martinus Rail, with the contract being delivered out of Rockhampton.In a major win for regional Queensland, the contractor will base itself out of Adani’s newly opened Rockhampton Business Centre, ensuring Rockhampton businesses and people will be in prime position to participate in the contract delivery.Adani Mining CEO Mr Lucas Dow said that more than $450million worth of contracts hadalready been awardedon the Carmichael Project, the majority toregional Queensland areas.
The Carmichael Project was redesigned in 2018 to be a 10 million tonne per annum mine and 200km railway, which will see 1,500 direct jobs and 6,750 indirect jobs created during ramp up and construction.
Siemens to deliver safety rail signaling systems for Carmichael Rail Network
After a significant competitive tender process, Siemens has been awarded acontract to deliverrail signaling systemsfor the Carmichael Rail Network.The digital system is designed to keep the trains running safely and efficiently. Siemens core technology helps avoid derailments, which secures aclean environment along the rail line.
Adani made this map and gave it to the Queensland government in 2016. The Queensland government sat on it till it was revealed in a Right to Information disclosure in 2018. Whatever person or entity made the RTI application and first received the disclosure documents made no effort to share it with the public.
I’ve shared this map with all the appropriate journalists, politicians, NGO mouthpieces and activists. I’ve made every effort to present it to those who ought to have an opinion on what it shows us about stopping the means of export for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. I wrote about this map shortly after I found it in May 2018.
The above map ‘Attachment 2 – Map of Traditional Owner areas’ was supplied by Adani to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) in March 2016. It was included in a RTI disclosure that was made at some point after the last document modification date of February 20, 2018. RTI 15-315 contains only content and communications generated between February 3 and April 3, 2016. The recipient of the RTI disclosure cannot be provided by DNRM staff and neither can the dates the disclosure was made available to the recipient and/or the public.
If we focused more on the political economy of the Galilee Basin coal complex we might see less aversive racism toward Traditional Owners
The featured image for this blogpost uses the map to show the approximate location of the most recent Frontline Action on Coal direct actions in the Galilee Basin in the last week. I’ve been in contact with a journalist embedded with FLAC who captured the 2 direct actions on video and has provided me with a few location details.
The direct actions on August 16 and 21 involved locking on to a drill rig on a section of Adani’s rail corridor beside the Gregory Development Road. The intersection of the rail corridor section known as Separable Portion 1 and the Gregory Development Rd is on Jangga People country.
As is always the case, the StopAdani alliance NGOs did not share content or news of FLACs direct actions. This has been happening for nearly 2 years. I wrote about it here and here.
The majority of Adani’s green field rail corridor is to be built on Jangga People country. The FLAC direct actions on August 16 and 21 represent the first of many. The StopAdani alliance member NGOs and their friends in the Climate Action Network Australia need to decide if they are more committed to the narrative they have constructed or laying the future of their institutions on the line in order to properly support frontline activists. All they have to lose is their charitable status and access to those dubious ‘impact philanthropy’ funding streams.
This is the abstract I submitted for consideration by Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), AIATSIS National Indigenous Research Conferences (ANIRC) Program Committee, for inclusion as a presentation at the 2019 AIATSIS National Research Conference: Research for the 21st Century.
My proposed presentation was declined, but I’m sharing the abstract here because I believe my questions continue to be relevant.
Green-Black Relations and the Galilee Basin Coal Complex: Political economy, aversive racism and public discourse
Mr Michael Swifte
To have a belief in protecting nature while supporting the right of Traditional Owners/Sovereign First Nations to exercise autonomy is to hold two ideas in enormous tension. It is not for me as a non-Indigenous person to tell Indigenous people how to care for nature or who they ought to negotiate with in regards to rights and interests in country.
The public discourse is influenced by particular environmental and activist groups, but do these groups represent the truth of the political economy that Indigenous peoples are confronted with on a daily basis? How do these representations shape the public consciousness and influence decision making around resource extraction projects like the Galilee Basin coal complex?
My close examination of the public discourse, many phone calls to case managers at the NNTT and ORIC, and my reading of the work of Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh and Lily O’Neill has left me with two key questions: (1) What can be learned from academic inquiry that observes the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Aboriginal and Islander Studies? (2) How can independent researchers support the kind of critical inquiry that can contribute to a more informed public discourse regarding the native title system, environmental protection and resource extraction?
My RTI disclosure documents suggest that Qld DSD staff were aware of the change of
proponent at least a day before the CG received the letter from Adani Mining Pty Ltd
confirming the change of proponent for NGBR from Adani Mining Pty Ltd to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd. DSD staff were notified of a meeting titled ‘Adani projects — Implications of proponent name change’ on March 26, 2018 while Adani Mining’s letter to the CG arrived March 27, 2018.
Adani changed ultimate holding companies one month after the first hearing in the Senate inquiry into the NAIF.
ASIC documents show that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd changed ultimate holding
companies on September 8, 2017. (retrieved on November 14, 2018).
484 08/09/2017 08/09/2017 3 08/09/2017 7E9427173
484 Change to Company Details
484D Change to Ultimate Holding Company
484N Changes to (Members) Share Holdings
Context and confusion about rail approvals
I reported in my blogpost ‘Plan B, Separable Portion 1 and the new Adani proponent’ that
the rail line for the Carmichael mine is a fusion of 2 separate sections belonging to 2
separate projects. I pointed out that Separable Portion 1 is the remnants of the east-west
narrow gauge line that constituted the rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and
Ian Macfarlane puts the NGBR project in perspective
What’s going to happen with the groundwater application and its potential approval is that any further applicants will have not only the infrastructure to get the coal out because the railway line will be there,
Anyone can make a right to information application with the Queensland government, and some people can get information released with minimal cost if they are experiencing financial hardship. If Adani don’t try to hold up my application I will receive a disclosure document on December 10.
Come along next Monday afternoon for an informal discussion about how ordinary people, putting their heads together, can work to liberate information about the Queensland state government’s dealings with Adani.
If a disclosure is provided to me on December 10, I will make it available to anyone who attends. The disclosure will be made publicly available by the Department of State Development who coordinate the Adani projects a week later. The first week is a crucial time for analysing an RTI disclosure and creating opportunities in the media to share new and possible explosive information.
I was able to get some support from the Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland in preparing my RTI application. EDO Qld were able to identify the relevant legislation and framed the crucial language that forms the most important element of an RTI application. Key words and terms determine the searches of departmental documents and communications conducted in response to an RTI application.
On December 10, 2018 the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning will either provide me with up to 215 pages of correspondence relating to the change of proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the addition of a new proponent for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, or they will inform me of an extension of time for consultation with a third party (Adani). The information I am seeking is significant because the new proponent is the subject of multiple approvals that could be described as being ‘stealthed’ through by multiple Queensland government departments. The new proponent is one of the Adani shell companies mentioned in the media in the lead up to last year’s NAIF inquiry and is reported to hold the royalty deed for the Carmichael mine.
The Queensland Office of the Information Commissioner determine how right to information processes are delivered across the Queensland government departments. It also reviews decisions made by government departments. In March it issued it’s judgement on the Queensland Department of Treasury decision not to release information to Greenpeace Australia Pacific. The below statement confirms the importance of access to information about Adani’s dealings.
“The Carmichael rail project is a matter of considerable community interest and debate. Disclosure of information relating to the project, such as that in issue, could reasonably be expected to promote open discussion of the ‘pros and cons’ of the project, contribute to informed debate on the project’s merits and ensure any decisions to advance public monies are made transparently and accountably.” L Lynch, Acting Right to Information Commissioner, 1 March 2018
The Office of the Information Commissioner provides guidelines for right to information officers across the Queensland government. These guidelines are very informative and can help members of the public understand how RTI officers do their job.
Adani are retaining a 200 km section of the often quoted 388km “Carmichael Rail Project” (a fictional project). That 200km section is made up of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR), Separable Portion 1 (SP1) – 78km and the remnants of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) which we can suppose is roughly 120km.
On September 14 I had a conference call with the media team at the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSD). They asked me a lot of questions about my interest in when and how Adani had switched proponents for the NGBR and added a joint proponent to CCMR. I gave them my theories about the ENGOs, think tanks, the Greens, and non-NewsCorp newspapers avoiding mentioning the NGBR as it would highlight the Traditional Owners who signed with Adani in 2014.
At one stage in our call the DSD media people indicated that I may have to submit a right to information request to discover the date Adani made communication with them indicating that there was a new proponent, and the date the DSD website was updated. They also said something about there being “no time limit” for Adani to inform the DSD that there was a change of proponent. The idea that there is no time limit for a change of proponent leaves me with many questions about what it took to legally change proponents (for the world’s largest proposed coal project) and how easy it may have been for Adani to stealth in a new proponent, approvals, and accreditations. Indeed the approvals and accreditations granted by the DTMR and DNRM in May and September of 2017 have confirmed to me that it is absolutely necessary to identify the exact date and procedure for transferring proponents between companies within a conglomerate like Adani.
On September 19 I received a call back from Rebecca, the Adani media person. Rebecca was able to confirm that Adani had sent a communication to the Qld DSD in March 2018 asking to change the name of the listed proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) and add a new proponent to the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR). They were also able to confirm that the DSD added the new proponent names to their website, ‘project overview’ pages in May 2018. It is on these DSD hosted pages that the key project information such as EIS documents are provided.
Here’s a link to the National Library of Australia web archive showing that on March 18, 2018 Adani Mining Pty Ltd were listed as the proponent for the NGBR.
On May 15, 2017 the Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was accredited as a ‘rail transport operator’ by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR). On September 24, 2018 I sent a set of questions to DTMR asking them to provide information about how and when Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd applied for and received accreditation. I can expect a response by October 16, 2018.
Here’s a link to the download page for Rail Regulator’s Reports:
It should be noted that, according to a report by Jenny Wiggins on September 14, 2018, the Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd had no employees and $1000 in assets at the end of the 2016/17 financial year. If this is the case then DTMR gave accreditation to nothing but a shell company.
Aecom’s contract was with Carmichael Rail Network, a subsidiary of Adani. But as its most recent annual report for the year ending March 2017, the Carmichael Rail Network had no employees and only $1000 in assets.
The ABC’s Stephen Long reported in March 2017 that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd were assigned the royalty deed sold to Adani by Linc Energy in August of 2014. Long described Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as a “shell company”.
But in August 2014, in dire financial straits, Linc Energy agreed to sell the royalty deed back to Adani at a fire sale price: just $150 million.
The obvious course would have been to extinguish the royalty deed, because it represented a multi-billion-dollar liability for the mine which is ultimately owned by Adani Enterprises Ltd, the Bombay-stock exchange listed company.
Instead, the royalty deed “was assigned by Linc Energy Limited to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as trustee for Carmichael Rail Network Trust,” notes in financial reports of Adani Mining Pty Ltd say.
Carmichael Rail Network is one of a group of companies behind the proposed North Galilee Basin rail line, which Adani is currently seeking a subsidised loan of up to $1 billion from the Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to build.
“What this means is that one of the companies currently seeking up to $1 billion in public subsidy is going to profit to the tune of up to $3 billion if the mine goes ahead,” Mr Walters said.
Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent of the Carmichael mine and the holder of its environmental approvals, appears to have lent Carmichael Rail the funds to buy the royalty deed.
A spokesman for the Adani Group said the subsidiary assigned to the royalty right was an Australian registered and regulated company and “as such it pays all applicable Australian taxes charges”.
Long’s reporting relied on analysis from the Adam Walters at Energy and Resource Insights based in Sydney. It appears that it was Walters who provided the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and Environmental Justice Australia intelligence regarding an Adani report to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission indicating that among the “proponents” for the “Carmichael Rail Project” is “Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd”.
2. According to company filings to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
dated 1 July 2015, the Australian domiciled Carmichael Rail Pty Ltd and Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as trustee for the Carmichael Rail Network Trust are the “proponents of the Carmichael Rail Project”.
It was announced on June 6, 2017 that AECOM had a contract to build the rail link from the Carmichael mine to the port. While some reports used the term “Carmichael Rail Network” none specified that the contract was not with the existing proponent (according to the DSD website) Adani Mining Pty Ltd who made ILUAs for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project in 2014 and who were responsible for satisfying ‘unprecedented’ environmental conditions in seeking approvals for the Carmichael mine and associated rail corridors.
At the time of the AECOM contract announcement Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd had held rail transport operator accreditation for only 3 weeks. The announcement of the AECOM contract preceded the publication of the 2016/17 regulator’s report which also shows that Adani Mining Pty Ltd had ceased to possess accreditation.
On September 19, 2017 Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was added as an ‘approved entity’ for the purposes of ‘Riverine Protection Permit Exemption Requirements’. The available documents don’t indicate if Adani Mining Pty Ltd have ever applied for, or been added as an ‘approved entity’.
Riverine protection permits allow entities doing work around water ways of various types to conduct earth works. Exemptions are sometimes given by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines for significant works.
It is quite possible that no information was available about the ‘approved entity’ status of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd until after the creation date for the below linked document – August 7, 2018.
In early 2015 Jerome Fahrer provided an affidavit on behalf of Adani in proceedings brought by Land Services of Coast and Country Inc and Conservation Action Trust. Included in the instructions from Peter Stokes, a partner at McCullough Robertson Laywers who were engaged by Adani Mining Pty Ltd are three intriguing points.
Given that Peter Stokes was engaged and presumably briefed by Adani, the significance of the revelations made in the three points under the heading ‘Rail alignment’, must be recognised.
Once you know what “SP1” is the picture becomes clearer. SP1 stands for Separable Portion 1, the first section of the proposed 189km rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR). As the points below show, in early 2015 it was known that less than half of the CCMR rail corridor was going to be retained.
14 As you know, Adani is proceeding with the North Galilee [Basin] Rail Project alignment in preference to the full rail alignment as set out in the EIS and SEIS. The investment associated with this has been calculated at $2.2 billion.
15 However, a portion (but not all) of SP1 as presented in the EIS and SEIS will also be constructed, representing the first approximately 70 kilometres of the rail leading from the mine itself. The investment associated with the whole of the rail aspect of the project is approximately $2.5B (inclusive of contingency and transactional costs).
16 The revised SP1 alignment will no longer connect directly with the existing Goonyella or Newlands rail system.
The reason that the admissions made in the instructions to Jerome Fahrer are so significant is because they show that the “rail” component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) had been reduced to less than half only months after the final approvals were given by state and federal governments.
The name of the CCMR suggests that its rail component is so significant that it needed to be included in the project name unlike most mines which do not include the rail component in the name. Indeed the majority of Separable Portion 1 is located on Jangga country. The Jangga People represented by Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation made 2 ILUAs with Adani Mining Pty Ltd for both the NGBR and CCMR. The National Native Title Tribunal numbers for the two Jangga-Adani ILUAs are: QI2014/065 and QI2014/022.
The reality is that the rail component of the CCMR as indicated on the DSD website ‘project overview’ page was effectively severed from the mine project in late 2014 or early 2015. It’s likely that the Jangga People ILUA for the CCMR covers Separable Portion 1 and the Jangga People ILUA for the NGBR covers the remnant Plan B corridor which extends to the eastern boundary of the Jangga People’s determination area.
Separable Portion 1 is only mentioned in two types of documents: EIS documents for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR), and two documents associated with Jerome Fahrer and the consulting firm he leads called ACIL Allen.
In my briefing in the lead up to the senate NAIF inquiry in 2017 I highlight an unreferenced statement about the composition of the 388km the “rail link” by ACIL Allen in their report for the NAIF inquiry commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The rail link comprises the 78-km Carmichael rail project from the mining and processing operation to Mistake Creek, and the 310-km North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBR) project from Mistake Creek to Abbot Point. The NGBR facility will be accessible by other enterprises.
Here’s a quote from an archive copy of the Adani Australia website, media releases section from November 1, 2015 (the earliest available).
The NGBR, the principal component of the company’s planned 388 km rail link from Carmichael to the port at Abbot Point, will be Queensland’s first standard gauge rail line, helping drive lower costs for Adani and other producers by with the longest, highest capacity trains for coal haulage in Australia.
The above statement is an acknowledgement of the reality of the fictional “Carmichael Rail Project”. If NGBR is the “principle” component, then Separable Portion 1 is the secondary component. By a fictional creation, a fake name that was unquestioned in the media, among ENGO spokespeople, and their think tank allies Adani masked the composition of their rail link. Through the withholding of information by both Adani and the Queensland and federal governments no reliable or intelligible information sources existed when needed. This created a situation where marginalised Traditional Owners, campaign groups, and the public could not analyse and determine what was really happening.
Additionally, the acknowledgements made in the instructions given by Adani Mining Pty Ltd legal representatives were entirely ignored by organisations like the Australian Conservation Foundation and Land Services of Coast and Country Inc. These organisations are well networked into the StopAdani coalition/alliance. Ignoring the significance of Separable Portion 1 may have strategically disadvantaged collective efforts at preventing the advancement of the Adani’s rail corridor plans.
The statement below from the introduction to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) EIS documents shows that Adani preferred the more direct route offered by the NGBR. I am left wondering if Adani ever intended to actually build the rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR). It seems quite possible that they pursued a less desirable corridor in order to attach a significant rail project to the mine. By presenting a fictional name for the connected rail projects created the suggestion that the NGBR was part of the mine project itself and not a separate project.
The proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project includes a 120 km portion of dual gauge rail that will run west to east from the mine site to Diamond Creek, and a 69 km narrow gauge portion that will run east from Diamond Creek and connect to the Goonyella rail system south of Moranbah. This would enable carriage of product coal over the existing narrow gauge networks either directly to the Port of Hay Point (Dudgeon Point Expansion) or indirectly to the Port of Abbot Point. As such, the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project rail infrastructure offers a short-term incremental solution that maintains port optionality, but is primarily only a medium – to long – term solution for export directly to Dudgeon Point.
Dual port capability for the export of coal is required by Adani to insure against potential force majeure conditions that may affect one of the mine-to-port supply chain routes. In addition, dual port capability will help to accommodate any future production increases from Adani and/or third-party mines in the Galilee Basin, which may exceed the capacity of one port. Given Adani’s interests in the existing and proposed export facilities at the Port of Abbot Point ( refer Section 1.4), a highly efficient, long-term and more direct transport route to the port was identified as a key business requirement.
Cut n paste journalists and busy people, could, and have quite reasonably assumed that the viability of the rail line would be impacted by any success achieved by the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council in their efforts to stop the mine. These assumption were made possible by the absence of investigation of the political and economic context of the negotiation of ILUAs for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. As I have pointed out many many times, the Stop Adani coalition/alliance NGOs and think tanks, the Fairfax, Guardian Australia, and ABC have consistently avoided investigating the reality of the diversity of Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin coal complex area.
Here’s a map that was provided to DNRM in March 2016 and only made available in a right to information disclosure in February 2018. Neither Adani nor the Queens;land government saw fit to release this very enlightening map when it would have been valuable for public understanding. I have not been able to ascertain which organisation made the initial RTI (DNRM 15-315) that yielded this map. I am left to assume that they did not have an interest in sharing it with the public.