Traditional Owners mount Korea tour to block Adani finance

Media Release – 5 November 2018

BREAKING: Korea Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of Korea and KDB Infrastructure Asset Management rule out finance ahead of visit

Brisbane, Australia: With Adani claiming to be close to securing finance, and media reporting the miner is holding talks with Korean finance companies interested in buying a stake in their port, leading Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners are today travelling to Korea to urge investment banks there to shun the Adani coal project, pointing to the final violation of their rights that will occur if the mine proceeds. Three investment banks have ruled out finance in response to W&J’s tour (ABC today). 

The heavyweight Korean lender Korea Development Bank (KDB) ruled out involvement last Wednesday, writing they “have no intent to provide finance”, as has the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) and KDB Infrastructure Asset Management, following meeting requests from the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council. Documentation here. Meetings with the The National Pension Service, Mirae Asset Daewoo and NH-Amundi have been requested and W&J will visit their offices to conduct media events. In 2015 a visit by W&J to Europe, the UK and United States saw major institutions, including UK’s largest investment bank Standard Chartered, publicly back away from financing the mine. Further background below.

W&J Traditional Owner and lead spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said, “Whoever assists Adani financially at this crucial time will become complicit in a grave breach of our rights, and the destruction of our lands and waters and sacred places. They are also exposing themselves to financial risk because success in our Federal Court appeal due next year would deliver great uncertainty to investors.

“We will tell Korean financiers that we have never given our free, prior and informed consent for our rights to be extinguished, or for the development of the Carmichael mine on our traditional lands – a development that would destroy large parts of our ancestral homelands to which our law and culture is deeply connected.

“We will also tell these institutions we are in ongoing communication with United Nations human rights bodies about violations of our human rights arising from the development of the Carmichael mine.

“Korean financial institutions must rule out financing Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine or investing in the associated rail and port infrastructure. They have a corporate responsibility to withhold finance from projects that violate our human rights, in breach of international law”.

W&J Traditional Owner and spokesperson Murrawah Johnson, who is also making the trip to the Republic of Korea, said, “The development of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project without our consent will lead to a violation of our fundamental human rights. In these circumstances, any Korean institution or business that directly or indirectly provides financial support to Adani’s project will be complicit in these violations.

“Korean financial institutions have a binding responsibility to respect human rights and ensure that their actions do not endorse or contribute to any violation of our internationally recognised rights as Indigenous People.

“Thirty-two major financial institutions have ruled out financing all or part of Adani’s proposed project, either confirming this directly or changing their policies. The interest in Adani from Korean banks or potential equity financiers needs to be made clear after reports that Adani has held talks with Korean finance companies. We are seeking to close the door on this financing avenue.

“We have shown we are determined to stop this disastrous project, waging a legal, political and human rights campaign over four years that has held Adani back. We won’t let them slip through at this late stage as their desperation shows. We will advise Korean banks, and anyone who would consider supporting this project, that our lands and people, our culture, and the future of the environment and climate, are at stake.

“No financial institution in its right mind should back this unethical and destructive new coal mine.”

Media contacts

Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council
In Korea: Anthony Esposito, Adviser, W&J Council +61 (0) 418 152 743 Skype: aje_now
Australian contact for W&J: Karrina Nolan +61 (0) 403 920 195

Finance Assistant travelling with W&J representatives: Julian Vincent, Executive Director, Market Forces. Ph: +61 (0) 419 179 529 Skype: julien-vincent  Market Forces works to shift finance away from activities that create severe environmental and social impacts. The W&J have previously enlisted the support of Market Forces to arrange meetings with financial institutions in the US and Europe and have done so again for this Korean visit.

Commentary on the Korean business landscape: Joojin Kim, Managing Director of Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC), a Seoul based environmental group focusing on climate finance, power market governance, carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidies. +82 10-8788-1988

Vision: Opportunities for live crosses or recorded interviews from media events in Korea can be arranged. Phone / skype interviews available throughout. Media packages of images / footage can be made available on request.

Further background

From 7-9 November 2018 representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Council (W&J) will visit Korea. The Traditional Owners have rejected an agreement with Adani and refused to allow the extinguishment of their rights for the Carmichael Mine on four occasions since 2012.

Adani has recently responded to years of failed attempts to secure finance by reducing the initial scale of the proposed mine and rail line, and deferring the expansion of the Abbot Point coal export terminal to enable a cheaper, “Phase 1” project. A key component of Adani’s recent strategy is to sell a stake in the existing Abbot Point coal export terminal, which could net hundreds of millions of dollars in equity that could then be redeployed to finance the mine and/or rail line.

The Courier Mail reported in September 2018It [Adani] is understood to be holding talks with Korean finance companies who are interested in buying a stake in the port. It could be done within months.

In July 2018 Mirae Asset Daewoo refinanced $330 milion of Adani’s debt, acquired when it bought the coal port in 2011. This debt was then on-sold to insurance company NH-Amundi.

W&J’s US based attorneys –  Earthjustice – have provided W&J with international law advice on the ‘business and human rights’ obligations of banks and organisations. The advice builds upon submissions from W&J to various UN human rights agencies and councils and calls for urgent UN action. This advice accompanied a letter sent by W&J to every Korean financial institution contacted. [The text of the letter sent to Korea Development Bank and others is here and Earthjustice advice is here.]

The W&J have had their rights breached under Australia’s coercive native title regime, and have never given their free, prior and informed consent to the forfeiting of their rights to their lands and waters for Adani, or for the development of the Carmichael mine on their traditional lands – a development that would destroy large parts of their ancestral homelands to which their law and culture is deeply connected.

The Queensland Government has now said it will would not extinguish the W&J’s native title rights until Adani has reached financial close for the Carmichael mine.

Creating further pressure on the Government and potential financiers is the W&J’s litigation before the Federal Court of Australia challenging the validity of an agreement that Adani purports to have made with the Traditional Owners.

W&J also has ongoing communication with United Nations human rights bodies about violations of their human rights arising from the development of the Carmichael mine.

Currently there is a an urgent action request before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been updated ahead of a session with the UN Human Rights Council.

If native title was extinguished by the Qld government this would open the way for funding for Adani’s port, rail or mine which would breach W&J’s rights under international law, including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

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