An Asia headquartered mining company behind a $21 billion coal project in Central Queensland will pay a financial penalty and avoid having a conviction recorded, a court has heard.
The Brisbane Magistrate’s Court ordered Adani Australia to pay much less than anticipated for incorrectly reporting land clearing activity spanning 5.8 hectares at the Carmichael Coal Project, 160km northwest of Clermont.
“Adani will not have a conviction recorded after self-reporting to the Queensland Government that we made an administrative error in our 2017/18 annual return for the Carmichael mine,” a company spokesperson told QMEB. “[We] pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court for providing the administering authority an erroneous document and will pay a $20,000 fine … we are pleased this matter is now resolved.”
Originally there was media speculation the proponent might have to pay the maximum penalty of $2.8 million for what Adani described to be an “administrative error”. However, magistrate Stephen Courtney believed a lighter sentence was enough even though the proponent was a large and well-resourced company.
“This mistake just should not have happened,” the magistrate said according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
$6000 extra paid
Adani will also have to pay $6000 in legal expenses on top of the fine and is “pleased this matter is now resolved”.
“There was no environmental harm, all relevant works were legal, and fully complied with our project conditions,” the spokesperson said. “We took responsibility for the administrative error at the time and introduced improvements to internal processes when it was discovered in 2018 and reported by us, to ensure paperwork errors of this nature are avoided in the future.”
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Anti-mining group Coast and Country complained about the land clearing back in September 2018 and used satellite imagery to substantiate its claims. Both state and federal environment department officials inspected the site days later, eventually resulting in Adani making amendments to its return to declare 132 hectares had been cleared according to the broadcaster.
Adani’s Abbot Point Coal Facility was previously fined more than $12,000 for releasing water during Cyclone Debbie that contained eight times more sediment than allowed back in 2017.
The company received a temporary emissions licence during the cyclone to allow stormwater to be released due to high rainfall. It self-reported it had breached strict conditions of the licence at the time according to AAP.