SYDNEY (Reuters) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) said on Sunday it has no intention of financing a controversial A$16.5 billion ($12.5 billion) Australian coal mine being built by Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises.
Adani is seeking A$2 billion in outside financing for the first stage of its proposed Carmichael coal mine in the state of Queensland.
However, Australian and overseas banks have balked at granting loans for the project, which environmentalists oppose because of concern over the size of the mine and the potential for damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
“ICBC has not been, and does not intend to be, engaged in arranging financing for this project,” ICBC, China’s biggest listed lender by assets, said in a statement on its Australian website.
“ICBC attaches great importance to its social responsibilities and keenly promotes ‘green financing’ ... this statement is made without any view on or prejudice towards the Carmichael mine project.”
The mine’s location 400 kilometres (250 miles) from a Pacific Ocean shipping terminal means financing infrastructure costs has been at the forefront of debate over the project’s economic viability.
ICBC said it made its statement following news reports that Adani was seeking loans from China to fund the project, and that social media posts suggested the bank as a possible financier.
An Adani spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters has previously reported that Adani was in talks with China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) for a loan. [nL4N1N80P2].
Deutsche Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia have publicly refused loans, given opposition to investment in fossil fuels.
Carmichael has been delayed by court challenges from environmentalists and indigenous groups concerned about climate change, and the impact on native land and water supply, but those challenges have been rejected.
Adani hopes to start shipping coal from Carmichael under the first stage of the project by March 2020.
($1 = 1.3161 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Tom Westbrook, editing by Larry King