The Commonwealth Bank has indicated it will not lend money to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine, leaving the project without financing from any of Australia’s big four banks.
A spokesman from Commonwealth Bank said the bank is “not among the banks who have been, or will be, asked to consider this financing”.
But a spokesman for Adani told Guardian Australia the bank’s statement is just a reflection of the fact Adani has said it would not be approaching any Australian bank for financing.
“We are well advanced with our financing,” he said, adding that it needs to be completed by the end of 2017, or the end of the first quarter of 2018.
“Those arrangements have been, and continue to be, with international financial institutions. We have never ever approached Westpac, Commonwealth, ANZ or NAB,” he said.
“We have said publicly that we will not be approaching any of the big banks ... They’ve just picked that fact up.”
He said Adani would not be approaching any Australian banks.
The statement follows a significant public campaign pressuring the bank to rule-out funding the project.
Until today, it was the last of Australia’s big-four banks to not rule out lending to the project. Commonwealth Bank remains a lender to Adani’s Abbot Point coal export terminal, through which coal from the proposed Carmichael mine will be shipped through the Great Barrier Reef to India.
Then in April this year Westpac became the third of the big banks to rule out funding the project, drawing criticism from then-resources minister Matthew Canavan, who said the bank had a conflict of interest because of its interest in other coal-producing regions, and called for a boycott of the bank.
The Commonwealth Bank had previously stepped back from the project, ending its role as a finance adviser, but until now had not indicated it would avoid financing it.
Blair Palese, chief executive of 350.org Australia said the announcement was a win for the public campaign.
“It’s a huge win for the two and a half years of campaigning from the public across Australia to put pressure on the bank,” Pelase said.
“Literally there were thousands of protests at Commbank branches around the country,” she said.
“It would be really great if they would come out openly and clearly (to rule out the project) but we’ll take it,” she said. “It’s a clear statement that it’s a toxic project.”
Julien Vincent, chief executive of Market Forces, a financial campaign group, said not having any of Australia’s big-four banks on board would be a problem for Adani.
“They provide not just debt but credibility,” he said. “Losing Commonwealth Bank from the pool of prospective lenders is a huge blow, given that CBA is already a lender to Adani’s Abbot Point coal export terminal.”
Jonathan Moylan, a campaigner at Greenpeace said the announcement from CBA is a win for the public, but that pressure on the bank to release a stronger climate policy would continue.
“It’s a step forward – the fact that Commbank have been forced to publicly comment on the Adani project means it’s obvious they are under pressure,” he said.
“Ninety thousand people have taken action to call on the bank to rule out new coal projects. That action is just going to continue until Commbank does the right thing,” Moylan said.
This article was written by Michael Slezak, for theguardian.com on Friday 11th August 2017 07.36 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010