AFTER passing another hurdle in October with Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt approving it with the ‘strictest conditions in Australian history’, Adani’s $16 billion Carmichael Coal Project in Queensland faces further challenges. The project will annually produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for export but has faced staunch opposition because its port terminals are close to the Great Barrier Reef.
The coal, railway and port project includes building Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the north Galilee Basin approximately 160km northwest of Clermont in Central Queensland, linked by a new 388km standard gauge rail line to a new terminal at Abbot Point.
Adani breathed a sigh of relief when the Minister granted approval after the Federal Court in August set aside the previous approval. However, the six-year approvals process was again extended after the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) subsequently launched more action. It has lodged papers in the Federal Court arguing that the Minister failed to consider whether the impact of burning coal and climate pollution would be inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
A spokesperson for Adani said the announcement by the ACF was “the latest in a litany of attempts by politically motivated activists seeking to endlessly delay new job-creating projects in Queensland”.
Adani has consistently said what is required for major job-creating resource projects to proceed in Queensland, and in Australia more broadly, is regulatory and approvals certainty,” the spokesperson said. “It is one thing for a project’s approval to be challenged - it is quite another to wait for previous challenges to fail, then launch new ones on different grounds over and over again, seeking endless delay, and endlessly abusing process.
“It is worth restating that the proposed mine has been approved, and subsequently re-approved, with the strictest conditions ever handed down under the EPBC Act.”
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said another legal challenge could delay the proposed mine by a year. QRC CEO Michael Roche said, “Arguing that Australian coal mines are responsible for the use of our coal in customer countries would be like saying Saudi Arabia should be responsible for emissions from Australian motorists using Saudi Arabian petroleum.
“There is simply no end to the opportunities in our legal system for activists to use the federal and Queensland court systems. My challenge to politicians is: when is enough, enough?”