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Australia approves controversial Carmichael coal mine

coal mine

Creative Commons: Marcus Wong Wongm, 2008

Australian Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt today re-approved Indian coal giant Adani’s unbankable $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

With the original approval overturned following a court ruling that the minister had properly considered advice about two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake – Adani can now proceed with the project if it abides by “the strictest conditions in Australian history“.

Critics say the decision was “grossly irresponsible”.

Greenpeace campaigner Shani Tager said:

This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions. We are appalled that the Australian federal government has chosen to reapprove the Carmichael project, but the reality is that Adani are a long way from getting the mine operational. Fortunately for the Reef, and the climate, Carmichael has been rejected by 14 major banks, Queensland’s treasury department has described the project as “unbankable” and no other investors are prepared to get behind a project that needs $16.5 billion.

Conditions on the re-approval state that Adani must set aside $100,000 per year to “protect and improve” habitat land, but it is hard to see how this will help given the mine land is one of the last remaining areas the finch can be found.

Burning of 60 million tonnes of coal a year from the Carmichael mine would emit approximately 130 million tonnes every year of the mine’s 90 year life – essentially cancelling most of Australia’s proposed contribution.

The mine also risks 297 billion litres of groundwater, and 10,000 hectares of threatened species habitat including the largest known population of the southern black-throated finch.

ACF President Geoff Cousins said:

To approve a massive coal mine that would make species extinct, deplete 297 billion litres of precious groundwater and produce 128.4 million tonnes of CO2 a year is grossly irresponsible. At a time when the world is desperately seeking cleaner energy options this huge new coal mine will make the effort to combat climate change all the more difficult.

Adani has already been likened to a “dog catching a car”, as it will now have to get the finance up for its black elephant from banks and, perhaps, a Federal Government that finally sees the writing on the wall.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said:

Minister Hunt is sacrificing threatened species such as the black-throated finch and precious groundwater resources for the sake of a mine that simply does not stack up economically. Adjacent landholders are also rightly concerned about the impacts on their property from the billions of litres of water that will be taken from precious groundwater resources.

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