Indian firm Adani has secured approval from the Australian Government for groundwater management plans at its $16bn Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The latest move comes after the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Geoscience Australia independently evaluated the plans for the project and confirmed that they meet strict scientific requirements.
Based on this assessment and the Department of the Environment and Energy’s recommendation for approval, Environmental Minister Melissa Price approved the plans for the Carmichael coal mine.
Price said that the decision does not serve as the final approval for this project, which now requires further approvals from the Queensland Government before construction works begin.
To date, the national and Queensland governments have approved only 16 of 25 environmental plans and another nine are yet to be finalised.
Prior to stating coal production, the Carmichael coal mine is required to meet further stringent conditions of approval from the national government.
Price said in a statement: “Approvals for the project by the Commonwealth in 2015 and the Queensland State government in 2016 resulted in the setting of 180 strict conditions to protect the environment.”
After assessing the project’s water management plans, the Department of the Environment and Energy commissioned independent technical advice from Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO.
That advice identified areas of groundwater modelling, monitoring and management and recommended various actions, which were accepted by Adani.
As part of these actions, the company needs to increase early warning monitoring between the mine and the Doongmabulla Springs and tighten corrective action triggers for immediate response to any unexpected groundwater impact.
The greenfield Carmichael coal mine located in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland has been a controversial topic as it would have an impact on climate change. It is expected to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of low-quality coal.
Environmentalists argue that the mine could do serious damage to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. In August 2017, the Queensland Court of Appeal in Australia quashed a case filed by activist Adrian Burragubba against the coal mine, clearing an environmental hurdle preventing construction of the project.