CommBank’s ‘secret’ link to coal mine revealed

Wednesday

Westpac is unlikely to fund the Adani mine by only lending to basins that are already producing steam coal

Greenpeace protested at CommBank’s Sydney last month over funding of fossil fuel industry loans and is expecting to ramp up a campaign to stop it financing the Adani mines. Picture: James Alcock / Greenpeace

GREEN groups will go to war with the Commonwealth Bank this week after documents revealed a continuing relationship with Adani that helped the controversial Carmichael mine gain approval for a water licence.

The bank’s involvement with Adani was revealed in a document outlining the reasons for the Queensland Government’s granting of a water licence required for the project.

The document, which has been seen by news.com.au, noted that a $1.6 million deposit from Adani was paid to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines using a Commonwealth Bank account.

The transaction raised questions about whether the bank had in fact distanced itself from Adani’s $21.7 billion project as much as originally thought.

Australia’s Big Four banks were thought to have ruled out funding Adani’s mega mine in the Galilee Basin after an announcement from Westpac last week.

Westpac was recently the target of a successful campaign from green groups that saw its ATMs given a facelift and a 200th anniversary celebration gatecrashed by activists.

It eventually announced it would no longer fund projects in new coal basins and limit lending to new mines in existing basins — which has effectively ruled out supporting projects in the Galilee Basin, where the Carmichael mine is located.

National Australia Bank had already ruled out funding the mine and ANZ’s chief executive officer effectively did the same when he predicted a downward shift in the bank’s exposure to coalmining.

It was thought Commonwealth Bank had also distanced itself from funding Adani when it walked away from a role as a financial adviser in 2015.

But green groups say a document submitted as part of the water licence approval revealed a “secret” link between the two companies and they are now demanding the bank make its intentions clear.

While the existence of the account does not mean the bank is financing Adani’s $21.7 billion project, green groups like Greenpeace are now pressuring CommBank to publicly state that it won’t pursue this in the future.

“Despite their public commitment to take action to limit global warming to no more than two degrees, the Commonwealth Bank is secretly working with Adani to facilitate the construction of the largest coal mine in Australia,” Greenpeace campaigner Nikola Casule said.

“This transaction, which the bank has kept a secret until now, shows that rather than living up to their word on building a better future for the next generation, CommBank are not only directly facilitating the destruction of Australian treasures like the Great Barrier Reef — they are also profiting from it.”

The Commonwealth Bank declined to answer questions from news.com.au about its involvement with Adani including whether it would rule out financing the massive project.

“We’re unable to comment on any individual customers,” a Commonwealth Bank spokesman said.

Greenpeace protested at CommBank's Sydney last month over funding of fossil fuel industry loans and is expecting to ramp up a campaign to stop it financing the Adani mine. Picture: James Alcock / Greenpeace

Greenpeace protested at CommBank’s Sydney last month over funding of fossil fuel industry loans and is expecting to ramp up a campaign to stop it financing the Adani mine. Picture: James Alcock / GreenpeaceSource:News Corp Australia

Groups including 350.org are now planning to target the Commonwealth Bank with protests starting this week.

“Relentless community pressure forced Westpac to walk away from funding the Adani coal mine and now CommBank are standing right in the firing line of a massive community backlash if they don’t immediately rule out funding Adani,” 350.org finance spokesman Isaac Astill said.

“The dirty relationship between CommBank and Adani has been blown wide open and it is time for CommBank to finally come clean about their intentions,” Mr Astill said.

“There are already hundreds of #StopAdani groups and I have no doubt they will be fired up and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure CommBank don’t fund this mine.”

Adani’s Carmichael mine has been hugely controversial with green groups launching numerous lawsuits in the past few years and a #StopAdani campaign recently, led by former Greens leader Bob Brown.

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Conservative radio announcer Alan Jones has expressed disbelief about the granting of the water licence to Adani, which will give its mine unlimited access to groundwater for the next 60 years with no government oversight.

According to Fairfax, Adani only needs to monitor and report the amount of water it uses, and is allowed to conduct its own reviews without independent or government oversight.

Environmental finance group Market Forces will also be targeting insurance groups like QBE after it revealed links to Adani.

It comes as French insurance major AXA last week announced it was ending insurance support to coal intensive businesses.

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