The global engineering company AECOM, the firm that had been designing Adani’s $2.2bn rail line to its Carmichael coalmine, says that it has “demobilised” and is no longer working the project with the Indian conglomerate – but Adani says it is still “100% committed to the Carmichael project”.
Engineering design contracts often have several milestones at which point the design is reviewed and the project then moves to another phase. The AECOM contract was ended at such a milestone with all contracts honoured. But sources have told Guardian Australia the expectation had been that AECOM would shepherd the rail project to its conclusion.
Adani remains silent on its attempts to finance the Carmichael project, having missed two deadlines, the most recent in March.
AECOM’s departure from the project comes amid increasing uncertainty around Adani’s ability to finance the Carmichael coalmine.
The company had sought assistance for its rail project through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif) but the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has vetoed a federal loan.
Adani has also put part of its Townsville office up for rent.
A spokesman from AECOM told Guardian Australia the company was no longer working on the Adani rail project.
“Our people have demobilised,” he said. “We’ve handed over our design to the client. It’s up to them what happens after this.”
A spokeswoman for Adani said: “Adani’s commercial relationship with AECOM continues. The current phase of their engineering and design for the rail project is now complete.
“AECOM remains an important partner for Adani and we appreciate the quality of work they have completed to date and look forward to continuing to work with them.
“It is normal for contractor numbers to change through the life of a project as milestones are reached and stages of work are completed … a new phase of activity on the project has begun, this involves working with other consultants and advisors to prepare for mine infrastructure construction and operation.
“We remain 100% committed to the Carmichael project.”
Guardian Australia understands AECOM stopped working on the project after the engineering design company was unable to gain access to key sites in order to progress its design work. The reasons for that are unclear.
The executive director at Market Forces, Julien Vincent, said it was another setback for the project.
“In the past six months, Adani has lost its mine construction partner in Downer EDI, while Queensland rail company Aurizon has withdrawn its Naif application to build an alternative rail line to the Galilee basin,” he said. “It’s time Australian governments and Adani both realise that coal is the past and instead focus on the future.”