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THE PITS
World Bank indirectly backs harmful SE Asian projects: report
By Douglas Gillison
Washington (AFP) March 17, 2017


Prominent Australians urge India's Adani to abandon giant mine
Sydney (AFP) March 16, 2017 - A group of prominent Australians Thursday urged India's Adani Enterprises to abandon a giant coal mine project near the Great Barrier Reef, warning it could damage bilateral ties and even affect sporting links.

The controversial Aus$21.7 billion (US$16 billion) Carmichael mine -- destined to be one of the world's biggest -- is set to start construction this year after being given the green light by the federal and Queensland state governments.

It still faces several ongoing legal challenges, with a final investment decision by Adani reportedly pending.

In a letter to Adani chairman Gautam Adani, due to be hand-delivered Thursday by businessman and environmentalist Geoffrey Cousins, the 90 Australians urged him to reconsider.

Signatories include former Australian Test cricket captains Ian and Greg Chappell, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, Australian-based British comedian Ben Elton, and rock group Midnight Oil.

It cites public opposition, risks to miners' health, the potential impact on the World Heritage-listed reef, which is already suffering from climate change, and India's reputation as reasons not to proceed.

"We urge you to think about global warming and public health and listen to the wishes of the people," said the letter, designed to counter a visit to Adani headquarters by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week.

"It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia.

"We understand the Adani Group has not made a final investment decision on the Carmichael coal mine. We strongly urge you to decide to abandon this project."

Ian Chappell suggested it could also hurt sporting ties, with the two nations arch cricketing rivals who are currently involved in a fiery Test series in India.

"Cricket has a bit to do with the feeling between India and Australia," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "The thought that this (mine) could affect the relationship, hopefully that'll get through."

The development proposes exporting coal to India via a massive open-cut and underground coal mine 160 kilometres (100 miles) northwest of Clermont in central Queensland, and a 189-kilometre rail link to port.

Adani forecasts it will produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for export with its Australia chief Jeyakumar Janakaraj in December insisting it would have a "net positive impact on climate change in the world".

"India is a large consumer of coal either way. So if Australia doesn't produce and give India high-quality, highly sustainable mining, it is going to rely on coal that will come from lesser reliable geographies," he said.

World Bank investments in commercial financial institutions is indirectly allowing land-grabs, evictions and pollution in Southeast Asia, a watchdog group charged in a report Friday.

By investing in banks and other so-called financial intermediaries, World Bank funds can increase poverty, social strife and promote projects which hasten climate change, according to a report by Inclusive Development International.

These investments by the World Bank's private financing arm, the International Finance Corporation, violate its own guidelines on environmental and social conditions, the report alleges.

"Once again, we have found that outsourcing the World Bank Group's development mandate to private financial institutions is a recipe for disaster," David Pred, the group's managing director, said in a statement.

Pred's US-based non-governmental organization, which researches the activities of development agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, issued another report in October saying the IFC's investments helped finance a "coal boom" across Asia even though the World Bank had pledged to phase out most support coal-fired power.

An IFC spokesman defended the practice of working with private financial firms, saying they were "essential" to poverty reduction and job creation.

"The multiplier effect of FI investments enables us to support far more enterprises critical to development than we would be able to on our own," IFC spokesman Frederick Jones told AFP.

"We work with our FI clients to improve their environment and social risk management practices."

In 2016, the IFC poured $5 billion into commercial banks, insurance companies, private equity firms and others, representing about half of its new annual long-term commitments, according to an internal IFC watchdog. The investments are aimed at boosting domestic capital and financial markets and supporting development.

But critics have grown increasingly critical of the practice in recent years, saying the financing can support end-users who violate World Bank environmental and social safeguards given the lack of oversight on how the funds are used.

The IFC compliance office said in a report last week that although supervision of these investments was improving, the corporation still lacked a means to assess whether clients met its standards. IFC disputed that report's findings, saying they did not give an accurate view of its performance.

Friday's report singled out IFC support for Raiffeisen Bank International of Austria, which the report said had financed the Thai mining firm Earth Energy, the main underwriter of a coal project in Myanmar's Tanintharyi region that allegedly involved land-grabbing and mining on ancestral lands that could affect as many as 16,000 people.

The report also said IFC bought a stake in Vietnam's state-owned VietinBank, which financed coal power, bauxite mining, rubber plantations and hydropower in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Those including Vietnam's Son La project, which had resulted in the displacement of 91,000 people, and Cambodia's Lower Sesan 2 dam, which threatens Mekong river fish stocks.

THE PITS
17 killed in China coal mine accident: state media
Beijing (AFP) March 14, 2017
Seventeen Chinese coal miners were killed when a lift used to move workers fell down a shaft, state media reported, the latest deadly mishap in the country's accident-prone coal-mining industry. The accident occurred Thursday when a cable supporting a mining cage caught fire, causing the rig to tumble down into a state-operated coal mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, Xinhua new ... read more

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