NAB scrutinised on plan to leave coal mining

A parliamentary committee has called NAB inconsistent in its messaging about its coal financing.

The House of Representatives Greens committee member, Dr Adam Bandt asked the bank during a hearing whether it could continue to finance customers that were expanding existing coal projects, given the bank said it would not fund new projects.

NAB chief executive, Ross McEwan, said: “We are on target to half our exposure to coal by 2028 and to be out completely by 2035.

“We will only be financing those operations as they transition out and remembering our targets… We'll not finance new or material expansions of coal fired power generation facilities.”

When Brandt pressed McEwan on existing projects from businesses that had coal as their sole business, he said: “They have to be in transition to another form or coming out”.

“We should not be just walking away from customers, we should be helping them get themselves into a better position and that's what we're doing. So, we are not financing new but we are helping customers transition and that's what I think you would expect us to do.”

Bandt said: “But what I hear from there is that in working with them, if want to your customers want to expand their business, their coal mining business, you don't have a problem with that, provided that on the whole your portfolio shrinks.

“If individual customers whose sole business is coal mining, want to expand but not expand your books you’ll continue to finance I've named Whitehaven in New Hope and it would seem to be inconsistent to say ’we understand that there's no further place for coal, but we will facilitate you to expand, even though ultimately in a few years’ time we might be getting out of the business altogether’.”

Responding, McEwan said if the bank worked with customers that knew the bank was getting out of coal and it had a plan, and if that helped those firms get out of coal then that was in everybody’s best interest.

“There’s not going to be any new or material expansion we’re going to finance,” he said.

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