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Land Court delivers Adani Carmichael coal mine recommendation

15 December 2015

Statement from EDO Qld CEO Jo-Anne Bragg

Today the Land Court of Queensland handed down its recommendation on whether or not the state should approve one of the world’s largest mines, the Adani Carmichael coal mine project proposed in Central Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Throughout the hearing earlier this year, the Court heard that the mine should not proceed due to environmental dangers and economic risks.

Through expert witnesses and evidence, impacts of the mine on the region’s water systems, on endangered ecosystems and species including the Black-throated Finch, and on climate and the Great Barrier Reef through the burning of huge quantities of coal, were exposed.

This case has shown the importance of an independent Land Court public objection process to scrutinise major mines, and that the state’s environmental impact assessment process alone does not necessarily expose all the facts and issues.

It has shown that the Palaszczuk Government did the right thing in reinstating community objection rights for mega projects to enable this important part of the assessment process.

Only through the perseverance of our client, conservation group Land Services of Coast and Country, were Adani’s claims about this multi billion-dollar project tested before an independent umpire.

Without this perseverance, the Australian public would not be aware that Adani’s job figures were overinflated by thousands of jobs that the company’s own witness admitted to.

The hearing exposed:

  • Adani may only pay $3.8b in royalties not the $22b they claimed. Adani is likely to pay no corporate tax for the mine in Australia.
  • The mine and rail will only provide 1,206 jobs for Queensland – 1,464 total, not the 10,000 Adani promised. Further, 352 jobs in other coal mines will go if Carmichael proceeds.
  • Adani’s mine will destroy the world’s last core population of the endangered Black Throated Finch and through changes to the Carmichael River will impact the threatened Waxy Cabbage Palm.
  • The amount of greenhouse gas emissions the burning of Adani’s Carmichael coal will cause, and the related damage to our Great Barrier Reef through climate change and ocean acidification.
  • The mine threatens the existence of the Oasis of Central Queensland – the ancient Doongmabulla Springs estimated to be one million years old – and the endemic species it supports.

We would like to praise community clients, the objectors in the Land Court, for their often unacknowledged yet vital and outstanding contribution to our future. We also express our gratitude to EDO Qld supporters – this case would not have been possible without you.

Overall the Land Court recommended approval of the Adani Carmichael coal mine to the Queensland Government, subject to extra conditions to protect the Black-throated Finch. The final decision still rests with the state ministers, and Land Court President MacDonald drew to their attention some crucial information:

  • Overall, my conclusions about the financial and economic evidence are that the applicant has overstated certain elements of the benefit of the mine both in the EIS and in the evidence before this Court” [575];
  • “There will be serious or irreversible environmental damage to the continued survival of any Black-throated Finch in the mining lease area”, because there will be a total loss of habitat in that area [407];
  • “Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions from the mine would equal approximately 0.53%-0.56% of the carbon budget that remains after 2015” [434];
  • “Given the exceptional ecological significance of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, I consider that the lack of direct investigation or modelling is concerning” [173].

The Adani Carmichael coal mine has been re-approved at a Federal level, which is pending legal review in the Federal Court, but does not yet have state approvals.

The Land Court of Queensland’s recommendation is that, a recommendation, to the State Government on whether or not to grant the application of an Environmental Authority (EA) and Mining Lease (ML).

Now the Director General of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, hopefully with strong advice from Minister for Environment and Great Barrier Reef Minister Miles, will make the decision for the EA and Minister for State Development Anthony Lynham will make the decision for the ML.

At a time Australia has joined in on the victory of the Paris climate deal, we hope the State Government makes the right decision for the health of our environment and future generations.

EDO Qld will be examining the Court’s recommendation further with our client and prepare a more detailed response in due course.

Find out more:

Adani Carmichael Land Court objection: case summary

Adani Carmichael Land Court objection: rolling coverage

Adani Carmichael Land Court objection: further reading

Adani Carmichael Federal Objection

Mining companies have nothing to fear from the scrutiny of the courts

Contact us for more information.