Carmichael coal project gets dirtier as Adani proposes to turn Australian coal into toxic plastic
Adani’s Carmichael coal mine is set to become even dirtier as Adani plans to use coal from its under construction Carmichael coal mine in a toxic PVC plastics plant in India.
Adani Enterprises, the parent company of Adani Mining who is digging the Carmichael mine, has applied for environmental clearances from the Indian government to build a 2m tonne/year coal-to-polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant at Mundra in the western Gujarat state. The project will cost 292bn Indian rupees (Rs) ($4bn USD or $5.1bn AUD) and will use imported coal from Adani’s Carmichael coal mine and turn it into toxic PVC plastic.
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone will be supplying the land and power for the plant.
The project is the first known use of Australian thermal coal in the production of plastic and signals a push by coal producers like Adani to find new markets for coal in the plastics market, as the world transitions to renewable energy.
The project has prompted an escalation of pressure on Adani’s major investors, which Adani will be relying on to fund the $4bn (USD) coal-to-plastics plant. Global advocacy organisation Sum Of Us has launched a digital petition to Adani Group’s largest known investor Blackrock, calling on Blackrock’s CEO Larry Fink to divest from the Adani Group until it drops its coal-to-plastics plan and coal expansion plans.
Pablo Brait, campaigner at Market Forces says: “Adani Group’s polluting coal-to-plastics proposal shows it is not a company that takes the climate crisis or the energy transition seriously. At a time when humanity needs to rapidly reduce thermal coal use, Adani is desperately trying to create new markets for the fossil fuel to prop-up its disastrous Carmichael coal mine.”
“Investors and bond arrangers across the Adani Group, like BlackRock, HSBC and Barclays need to take action to stop this proposal. If their commitments to tackle global warming are more than mere words, then any financing of Adani Group companies is indefensible while Adani pursues its plans to massively expand thermal coal mining and use.”
Sunny Hungerford, campaigns manager at Mackay Conservation Group said: “The Carmichael coal project has already been labelled the most ‘insane energy project in the world’, this latest dumbfoundingly dodgy coal-to-plastics plan by Adani is unfathomable. Adani’s toxic plastics plant would take the worst coal in the world from the worst coal mine in the world to make the worst plastic in the world. It’s a triple decker sandwich of environmental madness. Blackrock and Adani should walk away from these toxic coal and plastic projects.”
- Adani’s proposed coal-to-plastics project would require 3.1 million tonnes of coal each year, including 1 million tonnes of thermal coal. Feedstock coal will mostly be imported from Australia, Russia and other countries.
- Coal-to-plastics production emits triple the carbon emissions of oil-to plastics production. According to a 2017 Greenpeace report China’s coal-to-plastics industry was projected to produce more than 170 MTPA of CO₂ emissions by 2020.
- Coal to plastics projects, including Coal to PVC plants risk providing a ‘second life’ to unburnable coal. Whilst well established in China, the coal-to-plastics industry appears to be relatively new or undeveloped in India. However a PCV shortfall has prompted concerns from the Indian and the industry is gearing up to expand and invest $100 bil to boost domestic production of petrochemicals by 2030
- The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has warned of the risks posed by India’s proposed investment in expanding these technologies to give coal a ‘second life’. IEEFA says proposed investment in new coal technology ignores the lack of proof of economic viability, is inconsistent with India’s policy direction and will lead to economic and environmental problems.
- The Chinese central government mandates that new coal to plastics plants have a minimum 500 thousand ton per year capacity. Adani’s new coal-to-plastics project would be four times this size.
- The capital costs for a 600,000 tonne per annum coal to plastics plant have been estimated to be about $2.8bn USD, Adani’s two million tonne per annum ($4bn USD) plant would require significant investment capital.