Adani Enterprises freezes investment in Carmichael mine as coal prices remain low
Despite the fact that environmental approval for its giant coal mine was granted by the government of Queensland, Adani Enterprises has decided to freeze its investment in the project until world coal prices show a clear recovery, its executives have indicated in stock analyst briefings in India.
The Guardian reported that the briefings even gave rise to speculation that Adani might abandon its plans for the mine altogether amid a huge move by the company into solar energy.
A note from an Axis Capital stock analyst who was briefed by Adani Enterprises management gave valuations of the company stock that included one factoring in a “write-off of [its] dormant investment in Australia coalmine.”
“Management mentioned that further investments in its Australian coalmine project shall be dependent on visibility of revival in global coal prices,” it said.
Axis said that, despite the Carmichael mine receiving environmental clearance from the Queensland government this week, no major capital expenditure was expected “in the near term,” meaning until after June.
Adani Enterprises has already announced solar projects worth US$16 billion – more than the total A$16.5 billion flagged investment in the Carmichael mine and accompanying rail and port expansion.
Tim Buckley, a former Citibank analyst now working with the pro-renewable energy Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the numbers revealed in the company’s December 2015 quarter results meant it had “a very remote prospect” of funding a new multibillion-dollar coalmine.
Buckley said no financial institution was going to finance Adani’s Australian coal venture in the face of an Indian electricity sector transformation, whereby record growth in domestic coal production and record high inventories would trigger a rapid fall in Indian coal imports this year.
Adani must show “financial closure” on its project before the Queensland government will allow dredging of Great Barrier Reef waters to expand its Abbot Point port.
Buckley noted that Adani Enterprises’ net debt of US$2.5 billion was double the market value of the company, itself down 44 percent in the nine months to December 2015 to just US$1.2 billion. Net profit in the same period dropped 21 per cent to US$129 million.
However, the company was “on track to commission the world’s largest solar project”, a US$650 m, 648MW project in Tamil Nadu from next month, which Buckley said was part of a “massive strategic shift” into Indian solar projects.