A foreign-backed resources giant debunked speculation that a legal win for environmental activism could prematurely end a $2 billion coal development in Central Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
India-headquartered Bravus Mining and Resources rejected any suggestion that the Federal Court’s latest decision to invalidate an earlier Commonwealth approval, would stop all work on the Carmichael Coal Project in Belyando – 435km west of Mackay.
“For the avoidance of doubt … [the May 25 court] decision will not have any impact on the construction or operation of the Carmichael mine,” a company spokesperson said in a public statement.
Bravus, which was formerly known as Adani Australia, confirmed it has no intention of shutting down the full project.
“[Regardless of the] court judgement, construction on the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project is well underway, and importantly, the North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) project is not required for these construction activities,” the spokesperson said.
The remarks came after the Federal Court ruled Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley made an administrative error in 2019, when her office granted Bravus permission to pump 12.5 billion litres of water per year from Suttor River for the NGWS.
The work package includes a water pipeline, pump station infrastructure and expanded dam in the Belyando/Suttor River catchment that collectively supplies water to the mine.
“The minister made an error-in-law not to apply the water trigger, meaning the NGWS is now set to undergo further assessment,” the Environmental Defenders Office said in a public statement.
This led the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) to prematurely conclude the project was now unviable, because it is impractical to mine coal without water.
“This decision raises more doubts about the viability of Adani’s mine [as,] without the NGWS, it is hard to see how Adani has enough water to operate its mine,” ACF said in a public statement.
However, the proponent has a secret weapon that activists failed to anticipate, and the project will still continue without significant delays.
“We have also secured water for the operational phase that does not require the NGWS,” the spokesperson said.
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For now, Bravus plans to critically examine the court’s decision and consider a variety of legal and political avenues to restore the NGWS project as soon as possible.
“We will carefully consider the judgement handed down … in the Federal Court regarding the validity of the federal environment minister’s previous decision to approve the NGWS,” the spokesperson said.
“We will now consider our options on the progression of the NGWS and how we would like to proceed.”