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Energy & Climate

Latest Adani Carmichael mine and rail project news

27 June, 2019

EDO Qld has been at the forefront of the legal battle against Adani’s Carmichael mine for years

We have a proud history of standing up for community groups concerned about the mine.

We have represented the community in court against Adani numerous times, and provided community groups with valuable legal advice about the Carmichael mine.

We were recently successful taking the Federal Government to court, acting on behalf of Australian Conservation Foundation, over the Government's preliminary assessment decisions about Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme.

We have submitted persuasive evidence to the Queensland Government that Adani has broken the law by commencing illegal work at its Carmichael mine site.

And we are currently advising clients about the legality of recent government decisions to approve Adani’s management plans for impacts to groundwater and on the endangered black-throated finch.

This page brings together the latest news and updates on Adani’s Carmichael mine, including EDO Qld’s key work in this area.

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North Galilee Water Scheme

Adani’s proposed scheme to source water for the mine from the Suttor River is currently before the Federal Environment Department for consideration.  The scheme involves a 61 km pipeline for Adani to extract and pump up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the river.

On 17 September 2018, the Department decided that the project requires assessment, but only on preliminary documentation (i.e. no detailed EIS) for impacts to threatened species.  The Department appears to have agreed with Adani that the proposal does not form part of a larger project, and does not require assessment for impacts on a water resource related to large coal mining development.

In December 2018 EDO Qld lodged a challenge in the Federal Court on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation, seeking a judicial review of the decision to allow assessment of Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme to proceed without applying the water trigger under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. In March 2019 our client amended the grounds of the legal challenge over Adani's NGWS to include failure to consider public submissions on the project.

In June 2019 the Federal Government conceded the case brought against it over Adani's North Galilee Water Scheme.

Evidence of offences relating to the mine site

In September 2018, EDO Qld and our client Business Services of Coast and Country presented the Queensland Government with persuasive evidence that Adani had broken the law by commencing site clearance and dewatering operations without the correct approvals.

This is an apparent breach of its State and Federal mine approvals. The State Government is currently investigating the evidence.  There is also evidence that Adani failed to report land clearing site disturbance for the bores in its annual return to the Qld Environment Department, under statutory declaration; Adani has now acknowledged that omission

In December, EDO Qld and Coast and Country provided further evidence to the Queensland Government on this matter.

And again at the start of June, for our client we presented the Department with more evidence of Adani conducting illegal clearing in potential black throated finch habitat.

Abbot Point Coal Terminal cyclone discharges

Adani is the owner of the Abbot Point Port, from which some of the coal from the Carmichael mine is intended to be exported.

Adani was granted a temporary emissions licence to help manage stormwater during Cyclone Debbie, but it subsequently reported an exceedance of the licence discharge limits to the marine environment. After Adani challenged an infringement fine, the Queensland Government commenced prosecution of Adani for the offence. That process ended when Adani undertook to install a water monitor at the discharge point.

While Adani also appealed a Queensland Government requirement to conduct an investigation into the causes and impacts of a related discharge to the Caley Valley Wetlands, the parties agreed to have the notice cancelled. Governmental monitoring and assessment will now occur instead.

In February 2019, Adani announced it had again discharged stormwater into the Caley Valley Wetlands in excess of its Environmental Authority limit. Government investigations also confirmed the exceedance and Adani paid an infringement fine of $13,055 for the breach.

Read more here….

Outstanding approvals 

Adani still need to satisfy two key conditions of their approvals before they can begin construction.

As per their Environmental Authority, Adani must have a Black-throated Finch Species Management Plan approved by the state Department of Environment and Science before they can commence Stage Two works, including significant ground disturbance. Adani's mine site rests on some of the last remaining habitat for the critically-endangered Black-throated Finch.

They must also have a Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) approved by both the State and Federal Government. A key requirement for acceptance of this plan is that it locates the source of the ancient Doongmabulla Springs Complex and outlines mitigation measures to protect the Springs.

The company have submitted numerous versions of each plan but none have been accepted by Department of Environment and Science thus far.

A January 2019 analysis by EDO Qld of the latest version of Adani's Black-throated Finch Species Management Plan showed the company had gone backwards in its commitments to the endangered species, reducing its proposed offset area by more than 2000 hectares compared to previous versions of its plan.

Adani's GDEMP is currently under review by CSIRO, with the scientific peak body pointing out serious flaws with the plan in preliminary advice last year.


Much commentary centres around whether the Federal Government has the power to revoke Adani’s environmental approvals for its Carmichael mine.

In this article, our Principal Solicitor Sean Ryan discusses whether the Federal Government has any such power, and whether exercising it would result in compensation for Adani.

Court challenges

The challenge to Adani’s Federal environmental approval was dismissed by the Federal Court of Australia in August 2017. The Court accepted that the Minister concluded that the combustion emissions from the proposed mine would have no relevant impact on the Great Barrier Reef. Read more here…

Water licences

Adani was granted their associated water licence and surface water licence for the Carmichael Mine on 29 March 2017. 

Read more here….

Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund

In November last year the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced her Government’s veto of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) application for a $1 billion dollar loan of public money to an Adani subsidiary for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. Read more here about the approvals process...


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