The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project has been given the green light by the Federal Government, with 36 of the “strictest conditions in Australian history”.
The central Queensland project was halted in August, due to concerns raised by green groups about vulnerable species, the Yakka Skink and Ornamental Snake.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the decision to give the go-ahead for the mine today, was after careful consideration of additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups, including the Mackay Conservation Group, the Environmental Defenders Office and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“The conditions I have imposed take into account issues raised by the community and ensure that the proponent must meet the highest environmental standards,” Mr Hunt said.
He said the “strict” conditions would implement all advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC), protect and improve 31,000 hectares of southern black-throated finch habitat, require $1 million of funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species in the Galilee Basin over 10 years, and ensure protection of Doongmabulla Springs through strict monitoring of groundwater and triggers to take action so impacts do not exceed the approved limits.
“The rigorous conditions will protect threatened species and provide long-term benefits for the environment through the development of an offset package. These measures must be approved by myself before mining can start,” Mr Hunt said.
“I have the power to suspend or revoke the approval and strict penalties apply if there is a breach of the strict conditions. Department of Environment compliance and enforcement officers will closely monitor the operation of the mine.”
The Queensland Resources Council welcomed the approvals.
“It is really no surprise though that the projects were approved because all of the necessary environmental protections were in already in place,” chief executive Michael Roche said.
“The exploitation of the technical legal loophole that caused the delay was merely a tactic used by green activists in an attempt to thwart efforts to develop the Galilee Basin.”
Mr Roche warned that until federal parliament acts in a bipartisan fashion, there remained the very real risk that activists would continue exploit the current loopholes for every resource project proposed by every resource company.
“Both Adani and GVK, who are trying to kick-start development in the Galilee Basin, have come under attack from the anti-coal activists who don’t want Australia’s lower emission thermal coal to go to developing countries,” Mr Roche said.
“The activists’ delaying tactics are also preventing the creation of jobs and the financial benefits that flow into regional communities as a direct result of the project, and royalties into the state coffers that help pay for schools, hospitals, police and roads.”
The Mackay Conservation Group have voiced their outrage of the “devastating” decision on social media.
“Only two months ago we won a Federal court challenge to the controversial Carmichael coal mine but Minister Hunt’s reapproval risks threatened species, precious groundwater, the global climate and taxpayers’ money,” the group posted on their Facebook page.
“Minister Hunt has again failed the people of Australia by failing to address new evidence on the devastating impacts of what would be Australia’s largest coal mine.
“Hunt’s new conditions do not adequately deal with the seriousness of the implications of this mine. Simply put, these impacts are very serious, and can’t be offset. The mine should have been refused.”