India’s largest bank has not decided whether to help finance an Australian coal mine following growing pressure from climate activists and investors, including BlackRock Inc.
Two elderly peopleState Bank of India executives, who asked not to be identified, said the bank was withdrawing its steps to extend part of a $ 1 billion financing line inAdani Enterprises Ltd., which plans to use the money for the controversial Carmichael mine. The bank’s executive committee, which will make the final decision, has had no discussions about the loan this year, officials said.
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The Carmichael mine has been at the center of environmental protests since it was proposed in 2010. SBI shareholders have joined the opposition.BlackRock and NorwayStorebrand ASA set them upobjections over the past year, andAmundi SA shifted its holdings of SBI green bonds due to the bank’s links to the Carmichael mine.
SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara, who took office in October, is reluctant to distribute funds to Adani given opposition to the Australian project, bank officials said. Still, no decision has been made about the loan yet, they said.
SBI shares rose 0.6% in Mumbai on Friday, the third best performer among peers in a 10-lender rating that was down 0.5%. Adani enterprises grew by 2.4%.
Adani said in a statement that the construction of the Carmichael Mines is “well under way and we are on track to export” coal in 2021. The company added that its mines and railways are fully funded.
Spokesmen for the SBI did not respond to emails requesting comments.
Read more:Extreme weather threatens the $ 84 billion debt of the Indian bank
The Adani loan has left the SBI, which is majority owned by the Indian government, in a binding position. While foreign investors are increasingly limiting support for companies involved in coal mining or consumption, as it is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, 70% of India’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. The bank needs to balance its clean energy lending policy with the country’s energy supply needs, SBI executives said.
The Carmichael mine is located in the Galilee Basin in the northeastern province of Queensland. The mining license was officiallyapproved by the Queensland government in 2019 and if fully developed, the mine could contribute to an eventual doubling of coal exports to Australia. While this could provide a new benefit to the country’s economy, it would be detrimental to efforts to limit global warming, and it follows a year when Australia suffered record temperatures and widespread fires.
The SBI drafted a deal in principle with Adani in 2014 for a $ 1 billion facility and brought in several banks from around the world to secure financing as part of a consortium. The plan has had several repetitions since the project became more politically controversial. The memorandum of understanding between SBI and Adani on loan disbursement included several covenants covering environmental clean-up, project sustainability and timelines.
While the environmental permit was granted by the Queensland government, the disbursement is subject to compliance with other conditions, including viewing funding from other lenders, both officials said.
– With the help of Rajesh Kumar Singh
(Stock updates in the fifth paragraph.)
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