MELBOURNE May 23 Germany's largest bank,
Deutsche Bank AG, has declared it will not finance a
controversial coal port expansion in Australia near the Great
Barrier Reef, responding to calls from green groups and tourism
Deutsche Bank's stand marks a win for those opposed to $26
billion worth of coal projects that plan to use the Abbot Point
port, already facing delays due to weak coal prices. But one
company involved said the bank's position made no difference.
"This doesn't impact our proposed projects in any way,"
Indian firm GVK Hancock spokesman Josh Euler said.
Green groups and marine operators fighting to protect the
World Heritage-listed reef took their campaign to Europe this
week, urging Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale and HSBC not to
back the Queensland coal projects.
They want to stop a government-approved expansion of Abbot
Point that would involve dumping 3 million cubic metres of
dredged soil about 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the Great
Barrier Reef, an issue that is also of concern for UNESCO's
World Heritage committee.
Campaigners against the Abbot Point expansion failed to win
support from Societe Generale on Tuesday, according to their web
site, but were successful at Deutsche Bank's annual meeting on
Thursday. HSBC's annual meeting is on Friday. (here)
The bank was one of three that helped refinance the lease on
Abbot Point, but under a recently adopted guideline it would not
back any activity near a World Heritage site unless there was
agreement between UNESCO and the relevant country, it said on
its web site. (www.db.com)
"We will not consider financial applications for an
expansion of Abbot Point," Deutsche Bank Co-chairman Juergen
Fitschen was quoted by media and Greenpeace as saying at the
Greenpeace said Australia's big four banks, which it is
pressing to cut funding to the coal industry, should take note.
The operator of Abbot Point, North Queensland Bulk Ports
Corp, defended the port plan saying there is "rigorous
scientific evidence" to support an environmentally sustainable
expansion of the port and criticised the anti-coal campaign.
"This is one of the strategies that these groups and
individuals are employing, that is to increase investor risk
through creating uncertainty and a heightened perception of
risks over coal investments," NQBP spokeswoman Mary Steele said.
The port expansion would be needed to export coal from
massive new mines planned by Indian firms Adani Enterprises
and GVK, which is working with Australian billionaire
Gina Rinehart. Adani had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)