News & Blog Posts · Access to Justice

Successful community legal actions continue to reveal flawed mine assessments

05 August, 2015

The Federal Court’s revocation of the federal approval of the Adani Carmichael mine yesterday is yet another example of communities uncovering flaws in government assessment of major projects, says EDO Qld CEO and Solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg.

“In an embarrassing loss for the Australian Government, the federal approval was cancelled because the Federal Environment Minister failed to consider conservation advice for vulnerable species impacted by the proposed Adani Carmichael mine.

“This was the very same basis that two years ago the Federal Court cancelled the approval of the Shree Minerals Ltd mine proposed for the Tarkine wilderness in Tasmania, in response to a challenge by a community group.

“A year ago the NSW Court of Appeal confirmed another community win in the Land and Environment Court which refused the Warkworth mine, finding that the economic benefits of the coal mine did not outweigh the significant impacts on Bulga residents and the destruction of rare forests containing endangered plant and animal species

“In Queensland last year the Land Court made the first ever recommendation of refusal, or additional conditions, for the Alpha coal mine, finding that there was insufficient evidence of the groundwater impacts of the proposed mine. Again this was a successful action by landholders and community groups.

“These successful community actions raise serious questions about the degree of rigour applied to the assessment of some of Australia’s largest proposed mines.  It also shows the value in communities testing the claims of the miners in a court of law.

“These actions give lie to the claim by the industry that community actions are frivolous and vexatious, brought simply to delay.  A claim that has been rejected by the Productivity Commission and the Land Court of Queensland, but is repeated ad nauseam by some in the industry.

“We support our EDO NSW colleagues and other groups in saying key supporters of the controversial Carmichael mine, including Adani, Queensland Resources Council, and the Federal Minister, should stop trying to downplay the significance of the Court’s decision as a ‘technical glitch’.

“The mine’s impact on vulnerable species is one of the many assessment failures of Adani that the court system has shed light on and the significant impacts on our country and economy should not be taken lightly.”