NGOs call on Aurizon to abandon GVK deal

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Press release - 2 July, 2013
Sydney 2nd July 2013: Civil society groups representing millions of members worldwide have sent Aurizon CEO Lance Hockridge and the Board an open letter urging it to abandon plans to buy GVK Hancock’s rail and port project and signalling an intention to use all peaceful means to stop the projects being built.

“The new rail and port proposals that Aurizon is considering buying equity in would be a disaster for the Great Barrier Reef and the climate” said Erland Howden, Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace. “The new port will see massive dredging and many more ships passing through the Reef. And opening the Galilee Basin mines would see Australia making an even greater contribution to pushing global temperatures beyond safe levels”.

Six weeks ago, Australian company Aurizon (formerly QR National), announced its intention to buy a 51% controlling equity stake in Hancock Coal Infrastructure Pty Ltd, the company behind the T3 coal terminal proposal at Queensland’s Abbot Point near Bowen. Hancock Coal Infrastructure is currently owned by the controversial and indebted Indian conglomerate GVK.

The letter says in part:

The projects that you have recently chosen to involve your company in are fundamentally unsustainable and are incompatible with a stable climate.

We respectfully signal our intent to fight to prevent these projects being built and to ensure that the vast carbon stores of the Galilee Basin remain safely sequestered in the ground where they belong.

Recently, the shaky foundations of the GVK Hancock deal were laid bare in a Greenpeace commissioned report called Stranded, that showed the Alpha mine – one of the major new coal mines for which the new rail and port infrastructure is being planned – was unlikely to proceed as its owner, GVK, is mired in debt and has no experience building coal mines. Moreover, the downturn in the coal market – labelled ‘structural’ by WA premier Colin Barnett – makes new greenfield mines like Alpha uneconomic. Indeed, coal reserves in the Galilee Basin are increasingly looking like stranded assets.

“This is a dud deal on all levels for Aurizon” said Howden. “Environmental, economically and politically. Why would Aurizon expose itself to a bad investment that will see it become a target for NGOs campaigning to protect the Reef and stop climate change”.

Contacts:

Erland Howden: 0408 255 583

Julie Macken: 0400 925 217

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Open letter to the CEO and Board of Aurizon

Cc: John B Prescott AC,  John Atkin, Russell R Caplan, John D Cooper, Karen L Field, Graeme T John AO , Andrea J P Staines, Gene T Tilbrook, Dominic D Smith.

Dear Mr Hockridge,

On behalf of the several millions of people around the world who actively support our organisations, we urge you to cease your company’s involvement in the opening up of coal exports from the Galilee Basin in Queensland, Australia. In particular, we urge you to abandon your plans to purchase a controlling equity stake in Hancock Coal Infrastructure P/L.

The vast coal reserves of the Galilee Basin must remain in the ground if the world is to have any chance of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and of maintaining the kind of stable climate upon which much life, and our civilization depends.

There is no way to build a rail line to open up the Galilee Basin in a ‘sustainable’ manner. There is no way to build a new thermal coal export port in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in a ‘sustainable’ manner.

The projects that you have recently chosen to involve your company in are fundamentally unsustainable and are incompatible with a stable climate.

There is no way to sugar coat this. There is no possibility of a middle path or amicable outcome. We cannot allow the rail lines from the Galilee Basin to be built and we cannot allow a new thermal coal export port in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to be built. We owe it to the millions around the world who are demanding action on climate change. Most of all, we owe it to our children and to future generations.

We urge you to cease developing these damaging and irresponsible projects before you further commit resources of your shareholders.

We respectfully signal our intent to fight to prevent these projects being built and to ensure that the vast carbon stores of the Galilee Basin remain safely sequestered in the ground where they belong.

Sierra Club, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Greenpeace, GetUp, 350, Market Forces, Friends of the Earth, Sum Of Us

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