Richard Branson to oppose Adani in Australia coal project

Mumbai: Flamboyant billionaire Richard Branson, promoter of the Virgin group of companies, has displayed his new feathers as an environmental activist by taking on Indian industrialist Gautam Adani’s INR988bn ($15.5bn) coal mining and port project in Australia, describing the project as one likely to do incalculable damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

The project involves development of five Carmichael coal mines in Queensland through six open-cut pits and the building of a 310-km long railway line to transport coal from the mine site to a port at Abbot Point. It also involves dredging and dumping of an estimated 3m cu metres of seabed within the Great Barrier Reef, made up of the largest collection of corals on earth and considered one of the world’s natural wonders.

All the major American and European banks have refused funds to the project, citing environmental damage.

In a posting on his group’s website, Branson said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s world heritage panel will meet in Bonn, Germany, next month, to decide if the reef be put on the world-heritage-in-danger list.

“The massive industrialisation of the adjacent coastline for coal and gas ports is adding even more developmental pressures, including plans for dumping millions of tonnes of dredge waste into reef waters,” Branson said. “I fail to understand how the Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site, could be turned into an industrial dumping ground.”

Adani has been in the news for his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and for his string of acquisitions in port and power projects after Modi assumed office in May 2014.

Shirish Nadkarni

Shirish Nadkarni is a management consultant and freelance international journalist, who has been writing on all spheres of Indian business for the past three decades for a number of reputed overseas publications. An avid sportsman, Nadkarni has represented India in international veterans' badminton since 1997, and was the 55+ age group doubles world champion in 2005.


  1. What a hypocrite – despite his vocal opposition, he seems very happy for Virgin Australia to be the carrier of choice for Adani Australia!

  2. It is fashionable for some billionaires to join the environment bandwagon. It is not understood how a mine mores than 300 miles away can cause ant damage to barrier reef. Are the ships with coal load move in the proximity of the reef? If so can the route be changed? mine produces dust, but for that no pollutants/effluents can be generated and spoil the environments at places miles away. Is there any alternative place to dump the dredged material? emotions/sentiments are mixed with facts.

    1. Before expressing an opinion, you’d do well to study the issues. These mines will kill YOU.
      1. If that coal is burned, it will generate as much CO2 as many a country. That could must stay in the ground, otherwise we are cooking our planet.
      2. Much of the area for these proposed mines is worth protecting in its own right.
      3. The Aboriginal custodians for these lands are opposing the development. Their country — the centre of their culture — will disappear.
      4. Train lines are to be installed to take the coal to the coast. There, huge port developments are proposed, with huge quantities of dredging, which is damaging in itself, and then the stuff needs to be dumped somewhere. There is simply no place where it won’t do terrible damage.
      5. Then, finally, all those coal ships will be traipsing around the Reef.

  3. Its nice to see someone outside Australia cares aboutus exporting global warming around the world

  4. I see you have completely know idea what you are talking about dattajv, so why the hell even put your 2 cents in. Try ACTUALLY looking up what is going on before asking stupid questions. As if all of your ideas hadn’t been looked at already…

    1. And who are you …just another do-gooder, armchair expert. What qualifications do you have in commenting on the issue. Cant see you coming forth with any brainwave ideas, just spewing forth your vitriol…Dattajv has as much right to express his opinion as you …Why don’t you ACTUALLY try learning to spell…Know idea..Baahaha

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