Australia's big four banks don't believe the numbers stack up for an ambitious Queensland mining project.

Indian conglomerate Adani Group grabbed the headlines last week when it announced it was going ahead with its A$16.5 billion Queensland mine and rail project.

And why not? The project will be Australia's largest coal mine and will create a purported 10,000 jobs.

It's little wonder that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan hot-footed it to the airport to get to Townsville for the announcement at Adani's office.

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But while this was painted as a final investment decision by Adani, ending seven years of applications and court battles with environmentalists, it is nothing of the sort.

In reality, it is a ploy by Adani to force both the Queensland and Federal governments to stump up billions of dollars to help get the project off the ground.

And what a project it is.

The Adani mine will be a 45km open cut mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland.

It will be connected to the Abbot Point coal export port to be built by Adani by a 390 km rail line, also to be built Adani.

The slight sticking point with Adani's "final investment decision" is that it doesn't actually have the money.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
10 Jun, 2017 8:00am
6 minutes to read

It has a funding short-fall of several billion dollars, even for the A$6.7 billion first stage of the project.

So to make it all happen, Adani is seeking a A$900 million loan from the Federal government and a the deferral of A$500m in coal royalties that it would have to pay to the Queensland government when the mine starts producing.

But if the project needs a large, low cost loan and a generous royalty concession, we'd have to question how commercially sound it is.

If the two governments step in to help fund the project - as it looks like they will - they will be filling the void left by investors and bankers who don't want to stump up the money.

Australia's big four banks have all ruled out lending to Adani, due to a combination of environmental and commercial reasons.

The simple reason is they don't believe the numbers stack up, both in terms of this individual project and in terms of making long-term investments in fossil fuels.

Aside from the bad press for funding a project which could damage the Great Barrier Reef, the banks aren't sure they will be repaid.

ANZ Bank articulated its attitude to funding fossil fuel projects in its 2016 corporate sustainability review.

"Our customers mining for coal, oil and gas, as well as those in coal-fired electricity generation, and related industries, are increasingly exposed and may experience transition risk as a result of decreasing demand for fossil fuels and increasing demand for clean energy. We encourage customers in these sectors to plan for, and start making, the necessary changes for climate adaptation," the bank said.

The mine is forecast to operate for 50 to 60 years, but who knows what demand for coal will be in that time frame, or for that matter even in a decade's time.

Sometimes governments need to step in and make something happen when markets don't. But funding a coal mine of dubious commercial viability at a time when the world is moving away from fossil fuels isn't one of those instances.

IT'S GROWTH, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

Official gross domestic product figures have confirmed that the Australian economy has added to its record-breaking 26 years of non-stop economic expansion.
But the data release on Thursday was greeted with a muted reaction.

Even Treasurer Scott Morrison didn't make much of the fact that Australia has gone longer than any other economy at any time in history without being hit by a technical recession.

It's probably because it doesn't feel like there's much to celebrate.

The economy eked out a miserly 0.3 per cent growth in the first three months of the year for an annual growth rate of only 1.7 per cent. We're not exactly shooting the lights out.
And even those meagre figures aren't all they seem.

Much of the economic growth is due to Australia's strong population growth, of about 300,000 people a year, or 1.5 per cent of the population.

Our per capita GDP is in fact shrinking. GDP per capita fell by 0.1 per cent in the first three months of the year and has fallen in two of the last three quarters.

The other reason that we don't much feel like celebrating is because we - the householders - are getting less of what little economic growth there is.

Most of the gains in the economy have gone to miners and their shareholders thanks to a resurgence in commodity prices. But it hasn't flowed through to households, with wages remaining flat over the past year.

In fact, households' share of the economy is at the lowest level since 1964.

It's little wonder that we weren't popping the champagne corks.