Australia in final stages of mulling loan for India's Adani

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Adani Enterprises’ $4 billion Carmichael coal mine in Australia’s north is one of five projects that have been shortlisted for potential government funding, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in this April 2, 2014 file photo. India's Adani Enterprises Ltd was granted approval by Australia's Queensland state government on Sunday to proceed with its proposed A$10 billion ($7.7 billion) Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in Queensland state has faced years of delays amid opposition from environment groups who argue it will contribute to global warming and damage the Great Barrier Reef, leading some banks to rule out any role in funding.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a federal agency, said on Friday that it has selected five projects out of 124 loan applications for due diligence. It did not name the projects and declined to provide further detail.

However, a source with direct knowledge of the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters that Carmichael was one of those five.

An Adani spokesman in India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adani is hoping to receive a concessional loan of around A$900 million ($700 million) from NAIF to help build a 380 km (236 mile) rail link into its controversial Carmichael project located in the remote Galilee Basin.

The 247,000 square-km (95,000 square mile) expanse in the central outback is touted as having the potential to become Australia’s largest coal-producing region.

Adani, a business group with interests in power and ports, has said the project would not threaten the reef.

Of the $4 billion required for the first phase, Adani will have to raise about $2.5 billion in debt, the company said in March, adding it had already invested $3.3 billion in the project.

Slides from a presentation made by NAIF chief executive Laurie Walker in Brisbane on Thursday show due diligence is the penultimate stage of the body assessing a loan proposal.

Sydney-listed Genex Power Ltd said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange on Thursday that its solar and pumped hydro project in North Queensland was also in the due diligence phase.

NAIF said the five projects in due diligence were among 50 loan applications that remain under active consideration from the total 124.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Additional reporting by Promit Mukherjee in MUMBAI; Editing by Jane Wardell and Richard Pullin