Adani’s ambitious coal mine in Australia faces a formidable opponent—Nemo

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is an ecologically sensitive spot.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is an ecologically sensitive spot.
Image: Reuters/Daniel Munoz
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It is cast as a fight between a little clownfish and a large, rich corporation. The latter threatens to kill the fish and annihilate its home.

That is the plot environmental groups are using to warn people about what might happen if Gujarat-based business conglomerate Adani Group is given permission to build its new coal mines in Australia.

Activists fear that Adani’s ambitious $15.5 billion Carmichael coal and rail project will destroy the country’s iconic Great Barrier Reef.

Greenpeace Australia released a video on Wednesday called “Life was going swimming until…” It features a fish that looks similar to Nemo, the character from the 2003 animation film Finding Nemo.

Greenpeace’s Nemo is seen swimming in crystal blue water, until the camera pans out to show that the fish is actually inside a blender.

The commercial urges Australians to take charge and stop the company it terms “reckless” from building “a monstrous new mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.”

In nearly 24-hours, the video has been viewed more than 50,000 times on YouTube.

A spokesperson for Adani Group, owned by billionaire Gautam Adani, did not reply to an email seeking comment.

The Carmichael project, if developed, would be Australia’s biggest coal mine. It will be about seven times the size of Sydney Harbour. According to the Adani Group website, the project would create up to 5,000 jobs for Australians during construction phase and 4,000 jobs once operations begin.

The coal from the Carmichael mine will be transported via a 400-km railway line to Abbot Port, where the company owns a shipping terminal, and from there it will be exported to India. The company website says that the coal will help meet the country’s rising power demands. Adani acquired the port, which is near the Great Barrier Reef, in 2011 and will have to expand it in order to ship the coal.

Greenpeace and other green groups say that about 3m cubic metres of dredged mud will be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park during the expansion of the terminal. Scientists say this would cause irreversible damage to the Reef’s fragile ecosystem.

Adani is awaiting final nod on the project from Australian government on 1 August, and environmental groups such as Greenpeace have stepped up their efforts to turn public opinion against the expansion.

The lobbying seems to be working. In February this year, the project was dealt a blow after Deutsche Bank refused to fund the expansion following protests by activists. UNESCO has warned that it might place the Reef in its endangered list, if the dredging is approved.

Adani is one of India’s largest coal importers and is developing mines in Indonesia and Australia. The company has warned that it might scrap the project if the dredging does not begin soon.