Adani ordered to pay ‘exploited’ customers $100m


Mining company Adani has been ordered to pay more than $100 million to customers of its Abbot Point coal terminal after a court found it had engaged in unconscionable conduct and exploitative and dishonest behaviour.

The legal dispute arose between the Adani Abbot Point Terminal and four users of its port - Lake Vermont Resources, QCoal, Byerwen Coal and Sonoma Mine Management - in relation to the charges the companies were paying for access and handling at the North Queensland port.

In a judgment handed down late yesterday, Justice Jean Dalton ordered the Indian mining giant pay $37.9 million to Lake Vermont Resources, $25.3 million to QCoal, $31.7 million to Byerwen and $11.9 million to the Sonoma Mine.

She found Adani had not given its port customers "reasonable charges" for use of the facility and had engaged in "dishonest behaviour" and went out of its way to structure transactions so that it received an extra $255 million payment.

"The applicant's conduct was deliberate, not just heedless or indifferent to the position of the remaining users," Justice Dalton found.

"The applicant was fully cognisant as to the effect its behaviour would have in increasing the fixed costs to the remaining users.

"It desired that effect in order to advantage itself financially. That is, to achieve a gain for itself, the applicant engaged in calculated behaviour to the disadvantage of the respondents."

Justice Dalton said the company engaged in "disguising and camouflaging behaviour" and made "a dishonest attempt to defeat the respondents' exercise of their legal rights".

An Adani spokesperson said the company was "carefully considering" the judgment.

"The decision concerns a dispute between the company and four of its commercial customers relating to terminal handling and access charges at the Abbot Point Port," the spokesperson said.


Magnetite is seen at Adani’s Abbot Point terminal. Picture: Dean Sewell/Oculi
Magnetite is seen at Adani’s Abbot Point terminal. Picture: Dean Sewell/Oculi


"Whilst respecting the judgment of the Supreme Court, the matters in dispute between the parties are complex and AAPT in conjunction with its legal advisers will review Her Honour's reasons and consider the company's rights of appeal."

The findings came hours after it was revealed the mining giant had attempted to secure "extraordinary" secret search orders on one of its most high-profile opponents in the weeks before it lodged its landmark civil damages claim on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court on Thursday published unreported decisions from two private hearings held in June and July of this year in which mining giant Adani applied for the court to grant an application for them to enter and search the home of activist Benjamin Pennings and seize his computers and electronic devices.

Both applications were refused and the matter will continue by way of a civil damages case which was lodged by the company against Mr Pennings claiming he has orchestrated a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation against the company over a number of years.

Mr Pennings slammed the mining giant's "attack dog legal strategy" and vowed not to let the company "threaten or bankrupt" his family.

An Adani spokesperson said it had sought the search order from the Supreme Court to "secure evidence" for its civil claim.

"The civil legal action that this search order related to seeks to limit the campaign of harassment and intimidation we claim has been orchestrated by Mr Pennings against our business that aims to prevent us from legally and legitimately pursuing our commercial interests," the spokesperson said.



Originally published as Adani ordered to pay 'exploited' customers $100m