A Queensland Government investment vehicle has held talks about investing in the Galilee Basin coal mining region, raising speculation it may help bankroll infrastructure for the controversial Adani mine.
The Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), established by the state government, held discussions with the Queensland Treasury in February about the prospect of QIC investing in projects that would mine, transport or export coal from the Galilee Basin region, documents released under the state's Right to Information laws show.
The documents were almost entirely redacted, with the Queensland Treasury determining that releasing details would prejudice QIC's business interests as the information "could be used by a competitor to cause commercial harm to the QIC and/or disadvantage QIC in the pursuit of the investment in potential projects".
But the very existence of the documents shows that investing in the Galilee Basin has "at least come up in discussion between the Queensland Treasury and QIC," according to Julien Vincent from Market Forces, which has been opposing the Adani mine project and the opening up of the country's last untapped coal basin.
"The Queensland Government owes it to the public to clarify whether they are pushing QIC to invest in proposed Galilee Basin coal mines," he said.
Various superannuation funds - including the Queensland public servant funds QSuper and SunSuper, and the large industry fund HOSTplus - have moneys invested through QIC.
India's Adani Group has environmental and mining approvals for a giant coal mining project in the Galilee Basin which could involve underground pits and open cut mining, a railway line to the coast and the expansion of the Abbott Point Coal Terminal adjacent to the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.
But Adani has been struggling to gain financial backing for the proposal, with more than 20 banks around the world refusing to finance it either because of concerns about its environmental impact, perceived investment risk, or both.
QIC denies considering mine investment
Queensland Investment Corporation has denied considering investing in Adani's Carmichael coal mine.
"QIC does not invest directly in mines and has not been approached to invest directly in the Adani mine," said a spokesperson for the corporation.
However, this statement does not categorically rule out a possible investment in infrastructure related to the mine.
Both QIC and the Queensland Government have emphasised that the investment fund is independent of government control.
"QIC is legislatively independent from government in its investment decision making," the QIC spokesperson said.
"The Queensland Government has not instructed QIC to invest in Galilee Basin or Adani coal projects nor does the Government interfere in QIC's investment mandate and their related decisions," added a spokesperson for the Queensland Treasurer.