Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines has granted two licences to Adani Group’s Carmichael coal project, with one for surface water and the other for groundwater.
The A$21.7bn ($16.37bn) Carmichael coal project currently has met multi-million dollar financial and regulatory safeguards, and a strict monitoring regime is in place to manage water supply, claimed the department.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham stated that Adani Group needs to pay A$20.15m ($15.2m) to the government prior to drawing any surface water from a special reserve to be used for significant projects.
Dr Lynham said: “The water licences provide the mine with a volume of water about 1% of what farmers are able to use in the Burdekin catchment now.
"Adani has to pay the government more than $20m before they can use the surface water, and pay for it at a rate about three times what farmers currently pay in the lower Burdekin irrigation area.
"They have to have make good agreements in place with landholders whose existing ground water entitlements might be affected.
"There are now almost 270 conditions on this project to protect the natural environment and the interests of landholders and traditional owners.
"More than 100 of these conditions relate to groundwater.
"Most importantly, the government has the ability to require a mine to stop operations if any of these licences are breached.”
The surface water licence grants the project 10,800 metalitre (Ml) of surface water a year at $1,866/Ml.
Presently, farmers have access to 1,229,000Ml. Water for agricultural purpose is currently trading in the lower Burdekin catchment at approximately $570/Ml. Almost a further 140,000Ml remains untapped in reserve in the Burdekin.
The licences now enable Adani to remove enough water from the mine to allow it to operate safely
Lynham said: “My Department of Natural Resources and Mines advises that the modelling it assessed shows that up to 4,550Ml of groundwater could be taken a year.
"This is roughly equivalent to the amount used each year by a 450ha cane farm in the Lower Burdekin.
"Every operational mine in Queensland is authorised to remove groundwater that flows into the mine to make the mine safe, and reuse it if they wish."
The department stated that the project has been through extensive scrutiny by state and federal governments, and the community, during public consultation and in the courts.