SYDNEY (Reuters) - India’s Adani Enterprises has appointed corporate finance firm Grant Samuel to advise on funding for its multi-billion dollar coal mine in the Australian outback, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.
Analysts have raised doubts about whether Adani can fund what would be Australia’s biggest coal mine given opposition from green groups and volatile coal prices.
Banks including Deutsche Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia have already said they will not provide funding.
“Adani has mandated Grant Samuel to advise on the financing,” one of the sources said. Both sources asked not to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with media.
Grant Samuel declined to comment on whether it had been appointed to advise on funding for the Carmichael mine, which Adani had originally planned to develop at a cost of A$16.5 billion ($13 billion), before last year downsizing the first stage and trimming the cost to A$4 billion.
Adani spokesman Ron Watson declined to comment on the appointment of Grant Samuel, but said it now needed to borrow under A$2 billion to get the project off the ground. That would include A$900 million in loans under Australia’s Northern Territory Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) program.
“We are already talking with a number of international financial institutions,” Watson said.
Adani, which uses coal to generate electricity for its power business in India, has set a self-imposed first quarter 2018 deadline to complete funding, he added.
The mine’s location 400 kilometers (250 miles) from a Pacific Ocean shipping terminal means the challenge of financing infrastructure costs has been at the forefront of debate over the project’s economic viability.
Adani also continues to face legal and social hurdles amid opposition from environment groups arguing the mine will contribute to global warming and damage the Great Barrier Reef.
The firm has already invested A$3.3 billion in the project, which it says does not threaten the reef and will provide India with cleaner burning Australian coal.
In the past, Grant Samuel in Australia has worked with iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group on a $2.4 billion debt raising and also advised Whitehaven Coal on refinancing a A$1.4 billion loan, according to its website.
Reporting by James Regan and Sharon Klyne; Editing by Joseph Radford