The year 2021 has seen urgent calls by international authorities for an end to new coal developments. The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency have both warned that reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 means no new coal developments as of now. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called for the world to end its ‘deadly addiction’ to coal. Yet in the face of these dire warnings, Adani is planning more and more new coal mines, opening new coal-power stations, and expanding its coal ports. This is an update to an earlier story about the Adani Group and coal, since which the Group has taken on the development of another four major deposits of coal in India.
Adani’s Carmichael coal project in north Queensland has acquired international notoriety. Most profile pieces on the Adani Group’s multi-multi-billionaire founder, Gautam Adani, refer to it. However, few commentators go into detail about the juggernaut of coal exploitation the Adani Group is piloting in India or the trail of misery left in its wake.
In June 2021, AdaniWatch outlined the components of Adani’s ‘burgeoning love affair with coal’. In July, Market Forces itemised Adani’s plans to massively expand its fossil-fuel businesses, most of which are in coal. The issue was taken up by Bloomberg Green. On 31 July, the Caravan described ‘the devastating cost of India’s push towards a coal-based economic recovery’. In August, the Global Energy Monitor warned that India risked creating US $40 billion worth of stranded assets if it proceeded with planned new coal projects. Adani’s response to these warnings was to deepen its commitment to coal even further, by winning the rights to open up four huge new ‘coal blocks’ in the rural hinterland of India.
The four ‘coal blocks’ are Khargaon and Jhigador in Chhattisgarh, Dhirauli in Andhra Pradesh, and Gondkhairi in Maharashtra. They occur, of course, beneath land currently relied upon by traditional farmers or roamed by wildlife such as tigers and elephants. To India’s Modi Government, they are simply state possessions to be auctioned off to the highest bidder in a process that advertises the government’s commitment to the free market.
Each of these four new Adani coal-mine developments is described in more detail below. In the meantime, it’s worth taking in the cumulative effect of Adani’s coal-exploitation agenda:
- Adani plans to increase its extraction of coal by between 240% (if the proposed Carmichael mine operates at 10 million tonnes per aannum) and 520% (if Carmichael expands to 60 million tpa).
- Adani plans to double its coal-fired power capacity from about 12 GW to 24 GW.
- Adani is expanding its coal-handling capacity in at least five ports in both India and Australia.
Quite apart from the catastrophic impacts of this agenda on the Earth’s climate, the consequences of this expansion will be disruptive, disempowering and downright deadly for huge numbers of India’s most vulnerable people. Poor farmers will be displaced with inadequate compensation. Neighbours of coal pits, coal dumps, coal washeries, coal trains and coal power stations will suffer debilitating respiratory illnesses. Crops, people and animals will suffer as roads, powerlines, industrial installations and gaping holes in the ground exacerbate conflicts between farmers and wild animals such as elephants. Laws protecting forests, wildlife and tribal people will be broken with government connivance, forcing people into costly and protracted court actions.
The greenhouse emissions attributable to the Adani Group’s program will push human society 7% of the way towards a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees, the limit to warming set by the Paris Agreement. In tandem with the emissions of other global culprits, Adani will be pushing the Earth well beyond 1.5 degrees. According to the Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Plant Tracker (GCPT), the lifetime emissions from Adani Group’s coal power expansions would be 1.8 billion tonnes CO2. This is more than the total 2019 emissions of Japan and Indonesia combined.
Like a heroin dealer ruthlessly pushing its product on to a sick victim, the Adani Group is profiteering from the world’s addiction to coal.
The Adani Group’s colossal coal agenda is as follows.
Existing Adani Coal Mines (about 25 million tonnes per annum)
Parsa East & Kanta Basan Coal Block (India)
Situated in the Hasdeo Aranya forests of Chhattisgarh, this mine commenced production in 2013, is operated by Adani on behalf of a Rajasthan power authority, and has the capacity to extract 15 million tonnes of coal per annum. The mine has destroyed forests that are a physical and spiritual resource for the local Gond people.
Gare Pelma-III Coal Block (India)
Located in the midst of a dense cluster of coal mines and coal power stations in Chhattisgarh, the Gare Pelma III mine has a capacity of 5 million tonnes per annum and is operated by Adani on behalf of a state-owed electricity company. It is likely that this mine has contributed to adverse health effects that have been documented by health professionals monitoring the local population.
Lamindo Inter Multikon Coal Mine (Indonesia)
Located on Bunyu (North Kalimantan), a small island at the mouth of one of Borneo’s big rivers, this mine produces about 5 million tonnes of coal per annum. A community advocacy group has argued that the very existence of the mine violates a regulation aimed at protecting small islands from mining. The overall impacts of mining on the island have been blamed for degradation of water supplies, fishing resources, forests and local food production.
Proposed New Coal Mines (between 86 and 156 million tonnes per annum in total)
The Carmichael Coal Mine (Australia)
Located in north-central Queensland, the proposed Carmichael coal mine (under development) is currently licensed to export 10 million tonnes of coal per annum, but if the mine proceeds, this could increase to 60 million tonnes per annum (the original proposed amount). It could also pave the way for additional massive coal mines in the Galilee Basin, a giant coal deposit that is currently undeveloped. The business plan for the Carmichael mine is heavily dependent on taxpayer subsidies. However, the coal mine has effectively been subject to a boycott by financial institutions around the world, putting strain on the Adani Group’s continued support for the project. As well as the obvious and substantial climate impacts, the mine would also destroy local habitat and culturally important Country of the indigenous Wangan & Jagalingou people.
In PM Modi’s controversial auction of coal blocks, CG Natural Resources, a subsidiary of Adani, won the Khargaon coal block near Korba in the state of Chhattisgarh in August 2021. Inhabitants of major parts of the Korba area already suffer from the toxic effects of coal mining, transportation, burning and waste disposal – with a new mine proceeding, their health is unlikely to improve. Media reports say 250 million tonnes of coal are there for extraction.
Parsa Coal Block (India)
According to Adani, this proposed mine in the Hasdeo Aranya forests of Chhattisgarh would produce 5 million tonnes of coal per annum.
Kente Extension Coal Block (India)
According to Adani, this proposed mine in the Hasdeo Aranya forests of Chhattisgarh would produce 7 million tonnes of coal per annum.
Gidhmuri Paturia Coal Block (India)
According to Adani, this proposed mine in the state of Chhattisgarh would produce 5.6 million tonnes of coal per annum.
Gare Pelma-I Coal Block (India)
According to Adani, this proposed mine in the state of Chhattisgarh would produce 5.6 million tonnes of coal per annum.
Gare Pelma-II Coal Block (India)
According to Adani, this proposed mine in the state of Chhattisgarh would produce a colossal 23 million tonnes of coal per annum. It would add prodigiously to the environmental and health impacts already documented by health professionals in the Raigarh region of Chhattisgarh.
Talabira II & III Coal Block (India)
According to Adani, this proposed mine located in the state of Odisha, would produce an enormous 20 million tonnes of coal per annum. Development of the site has provoked opposition and protests by indigenous farmers.
Gondulpara (sic) (India)
According to media reports, the Adani Group won a contract for the Gondulpara (sic) coal block in the state of Jharkhand. (The relevant local town is actually called Gondalpura but a misspelling appears to have been perpetuated by government authorities and Adani.) It is reported that the mine has geological reserves of 176 million tonnes of coal.
In August 2021, the media reported that an Adani subsidiary had won the right to extract coal from the Dhirauli block in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The proposed mine would extract around five million tonnes per annum of coal.
According to an Adani report from May 2019, Adani Enterprises signed a coal-mining agreement with the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation for the Suliyari Coal Block on 8 March 2019. Adani says approximately 5 million tonnes per annum of coal would be extracted from it.
Existing Adani Coal Power Stations (total capacity 12.5 GW)
The enormous Mundra power plant (4620 MW) is part of Adani’s sprawling port complex at Mundra (Gujarat). Operation of the power plant (with its fumes, fly ash and coal dust) has contributed to local health problems, as documented by expert reports quoted in this AdaniWatch story.
Located in the state of Maharashtra, the Tiroda coal power station has a total capacity of 3300 MW.
The Kawai coal power station in Rajasthan has a capacity of 1320 MW.
The Udupi coal power station in Karnataka has a capacity of 1200 MW.
According to Adani's website, Adani operates a 1370MW coal-based plant near Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh.
According to Adani's website, Adani operates a 600MW coal-based plant near Raigarh, part of a cluster of coal mines, coal power plants and other coal infrastructure that has been blamed for the bad health of part of the local populace.
Proposed New Coal Power Stations (approx. 12.2 GW)
Godda Coal Power Station (India)
Under construction near the town of Godda in the north-eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, the Godda power station would, if completed, be the final destination for coal from Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine (above). Located in its own ‘special economic zone’, the 1600MW plant would export power to Bangladesh under an arrangement which exempts the Adani Group from most of the customs duties and other taxes that would ordinarily apply to such developments. Reports have been published of dirty tricks and coercion used by local authorities to acquire the land from the local indigenous farmers. AdaniWatch visited villages adjacent to the Godda construction site in February 2020.
Pench (Chhindwara) Coal Power Station (India)
In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the proposed 1320MW Pench power plant (otherwise known as the Chhindwara power plant) has become mired in controversy and court cases pertaining to its environmental approval and the displacement of local farmers. In 2011 and 2015, protest leaders were viciously assaulted by assailants described as ‘company goons’. Work (other than a boundary wall and some administration buildings) has yet to commence on the tainted proposal.
Bhadreshwar Coal Power Station (India)
If it proceeds, the Bhadreshwar plant would be constructed near the Mundra power station in Gujarat and would have 3300 Mw capacity.
Dahej, Udupi Expansion and Kawai Expansion Coal Power Stations (India)
Dahej (Gujarat state) is planned to be 2640 MW. The Udupi (Karnataka) expansion is planned to add 1600 MW to the existing 1200 MW. And the Kawai (Rajasthan) expansion is planned at 1600 MW. Together, these would comprise a colossal 5840 MW of expansion.
Existing Adani Coal Transport Infrastructure
Abbot Point Port (Australia)
The Abbot Point port, rebranded by Adani as the North Queensland Export Terminal, has the capacity to export 50 million tonnes of coal per annum. The terminal is 100% owned by the Adani Group. The company’s website studiously avoids use of the word ‘coal’ even though it is the main product exported. It is the proposed destination for coal from the proposed Carmichael mine via the Carmichael rail project (above). From Abbot Point, Adani’s coal would be exported to its Dhamra port in India (below).
Dhamra Port (India)
Situated in the north-eastern Indian state of Odisha, Adani’s Dhamra port is the intended entry point for coal from the proposed Carmichael mine. From here, the coal would be railed approximately 700 km (past many existing coal mines) to Adani’s proposed coal-fired power station at Godda (see below). The Dhamra port occurs in a tropical setting of estuaries, mangroves, islets, beaches and sandbars that comprise important habitat for the vulnerable Olive Ridley sea-turtle.
Mundra Port (India)
According to Adani, Mundra is India’s largest commercial port and the ‘world’s largest import coal terminal’. The coal is imported for Adani’s Mundra power plant (see above) and for the huge coal power station owned by Tata. According to numerous reports, port construction here has destroyed great swathes of the coastal environment of the biodiverse Gulf of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Mormugao Port (India)
According to Adani, Mormugao port (in the state of Goa) is a ‘fully mechanised coal-handling facility’ and a ‘strategically located coal terminal on the South-West coast of India’. Local opposition to the expansion of coal-handling facilities and coal-transport railways in the hinterland have led to passionate outbursts of protest by the people of Goa.
Tuna Port (India)
According to Adani, its Tuna port (Gujarat) handles coal.
Vizag Terminal (India)
According to Adani, the Vizag terminal in Andhra Pradesh was developed to handle steam coal and has a coal-storage yard of 25 acres.
Krishnapatnam Port (India)
According to Adani, the Krishnapatnam port (Andrha Pradesh) has been equipped to enable ‘faster discharge of coal cargo’.
Proposed New Coal Transport Infrastructure
Carmichael Rail (Australia)
Adani is building a 200-km railway to link with existing rail infrastructure in order to transport coal from its Carmichael mine (above) to its port at Abbot Point.
North Queensland Export Terminal (Abbot Point, Australia)
According to Adani, the permanent port infrastructure required to link the existing terminal with the Carmichael rail network (above) will include a new coal in-loader and conveyors to link to the existing stockpiles and out-loader streams. As the port authority, North Queensland Bulk Port’s vision for Abbot Point is that it continues to grow as a key strategic coal port.
Various port expansions in India