In early December, three major global financial institutions warned the State Bank of India against extending a loan to the Adani Group’s controversial Carmichael coal mine in Australia. The three organisations—BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager; Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager; and Storebrand ASA, a Norweigian financial-services company—all hold investments with SBI. The trio are the latest of several major investors, insurers and banks that reached out to SBI in the wake of media reports that the bank would grant the Adani Group a loan of Rs 5,000 crore—or $1 billion—to fund the coal project.
Just days before, a group of protesters had assembled in front of the Sydney Cricket Ground to protest the proposed loan. Two protestors even interrupted a match between India and Australia by running into the pitch, holding up placards that read, “State Bank of India No $I Billion Adani Loan.” A media release by the Galilee Blockade—one of several environmental groups opposing the mine—stated, “Millions of Indian taxpayers who are watching the first game of the Indian cricket tour have a right to know that the State Bank of India is considering handing their taxes to a billionaire’s climate wrecking coal mine.”
The Adani Group first announced its plans to setup the Carmichael mine in 2010, proposing to build it in the vast untapped coal reserves of the Galilee Basin in Queensland, a state in north-eastern Australia. Although Adani was not the first to propose mining the Galilee, the other companies appeared to depend on the infrastructure that the Indian conglomerate had proposed. This infrastructure included an airfield to transport workers, and a rail line to connect the mine to Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal. According to a Greenpeace report released in 2012, there were nine proposed mines in the Galilee Basin by that year, which would produce a collective total of 330 million tonnes of coal per year, releasing 705 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.