Deutsche Bank has refused to back Indian conglomerate Adani Group’s plans to expand Queensland’s Abbot Point coal port, near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, after the United Nations raised concerns about the effects of the project in the world’s heritage site.
At its annual general meeting in Frankfurt, the German lender announced it would not consider investing in the project this year unless both the Australian government and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, can prove it would not damage the Great Barrier Reef.
“Our policy requires such a consensus [between UNESCO and the government] at the least. We therefore would not consider applications for the financing of an expansion any further,” Deutsche’s co-chief executive, Juergen Fitschen, told shareholders.
Last year the bank helped Adani Group refinance the lease on the existing 30-year-old terminal. The other two financial institutions involved were Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp.
HSBC —Europe’s biggest bank— also signalled on Friday it would be unlikely to finance the project.
Earlier this month Queensland approved Adani’s US$15bn Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, in the untapped Galilee Basin, which has the potential to become one of the world’s largest coal mines. The mine is expected to use the Abbot Point port, which is at the centre of the heated ongoing debate between conservationists, miners and authorities.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will decide whether to place the reef in its “high risk” list at its annual meeting in Doha, Qatar, June 15-25.