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Adani mine: insurers play down project links

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Reports based on leaked documents have named three insurers as being involved with the Adani coal mine – but the companies today sought to distance themselves from the controversial Carmichael project in Queensland.

Liberty Specialty Markets, HDI Global and XL Australia, which is part of the French-owned Axa Group, were identified in a Sydney Morning Herald article as having provided insurance for the construction of the mine and its rail project.

Liberty says the article refers to a policy that expired last year, Axa says it has no live insurance for the mine, and both ruled out future involvement. HDI told it has no direct connection with the project.

The newspaper says its article is based on invoices leaked by an unidentified employee from broker Marsh, which was also named as the broker that arranged the insurance program for the coal mine.

The invoices – which have not been seen by – reportedly show the three insurers had charged the mine’s owner, Indian conglomerate Adani Group, for insurance coverage last year. Reinsurer Aspen Re also provided some cover, the article says.

Market Forces campaigner Pablo Brait says the article will result in “reputational disaster” for the insurers, given they have previously announced policies to support global efforts to halt carbon emissions.

A spokesman for Adani declined to comment on the revelations, citing confidentiality clauses in its commercial insurance contracts. The spokesman says the mine has the “requisite insurance” in place.

HDI, part of the German-based Talanx Group, says it is “not an insurer” of the project.

However, the business “cannot rule out that one or more of our Australian customers who are insured by us are among the contractors of this project”.

HDI says these customers could have acquired policies to cover areas such as liability, cyber, or contract works.

“It is part of our fundamental business principles not to grant any direct insurance cover to projects like the Adani Carmichael coal mine,” a statement from the insurer said.

“For many years, we have supported the goals set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change where governments of 195 nations reached agreement on a global action plan for a low-carbon economy with a view to combating climate change.”

A spokesman for US-owned Liberty Specialty Markets says it had a policy to cover the mine’s early construction works, but the cover expired in October last year.

However, it is contractually obligated to a 24-month maintenance period for any defects that may arise in that specific construction following the conclusion of the period of insurance.

The spokesman says the policy was issued before the insurer informed the appropriate parties that it would not be participating in the insurance program for the operational phase of the project.

“Prior to that announcement, we had in-force a small piece of the insurance program for early-works site construction. That policy expired in October 2019,” the spokesman said.

Axa XL says it does not currently have a live insurance policy for the Carmichael mine’s assets, either directly or through packages, and does not intend to do so in the future.

Marsh declined to comment on the article.