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$21B mega mine wins new approval ahead of election

Workers at the Carmichael Coal Project. (Photo credit Adani Australia)
Workers at the Carmichael Coal Project. (Photo credit: Adani Australia)

A foreign backed $21 billion mining project has scored new regulatory approval just days before a federal election is called.

India-headquartered Adani Mining has applauded the Federal Government’s latest decision to approve the Carmichael Coal Project’s water management plans.

“We welcome the minister for the environment’s approval of the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project,” Adani CEO Lucas Dow said in a public statement.

The nod from Minister Melissa Price came after more than 18 months of consultation with the Federal Department of Environment and Energy, and demands from the coal industry to give the project certainty.

“The independent evaluation and endorsement by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia verifies that the measures outlined in the plans will ensure groundwater at the mine, and the ecosystems that depend on it, are protected,” Dow said. “This includes a network of more than 100 monitoring bores to track underground water levels.”

Price said there was scientific evidence the plan would work.

“Both CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have confirmed the revised plans meet strict scientific requirements,” she said. “Following this independent assessment and the Department of the Environment and Energy’s recommendation for approval, I have accepted the scientific advice and therefore approved the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.”

However, the project will still need final approval for the black-throated finch management plan that is expected to be decided after the May federal election.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) questioned why the government took so long to approve the project’s groundwater management plans, predicting the entire process took 3091 days.

“Since the original application for the project was accepted by the [Labor Anna] Bligh Government or deemed a “controlled project” under the [Labor Julia] Gillard Government in 2010, Adani has worked through all the state and federal government processes,” QRC said in a public statement. “To put that into context, it took less time – 2891 days – for the winning tenderer to build and open the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 1920s and 30s. Surely we can do better in 21st Century Australia.”

Dow also expressed frustration over what he described as the State Government’s ever changing requirements.

“The Queensland Government has continued to shift the goal posts when it comes to finalising the outstanding environmental management plans for the mine and is standing in the way of thousands of jobs for Queenslanders,” he said. “It’s time the Queensland Government gave us a fair go and stopped shifting the goal posts so we can get on with delivering these jobs.”

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