Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the massive Carmichael project yesterday, two months after the Queensland government ticked off its environmental approvals.
So is the decision a sellout that Australians will live to regret?
Model Robyn Lawley certainly seems to think so, posting a naked selfie with the words “stop coal mining” scrawled on her stomach.
“I’m shocked and feel powerless so I decided to get people to read this one way or another, we have to stop them ... before its too late”.
She’s not the only one, with many green groups worried about Australia’s water supply and a Hollywood star concerned about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
If it is built the Carmichael Coal Mine will be one of the largest in the world and will help unlock Queensland’s Galilee Basin for more development.
The mine is owned by Indian mining giant Adani Group and could eventually produce and transport enough coal to power homes for about 100 million people in India, about eight per cent of the population.
The mega mine will cover 200 square kilometres and will include six open cut pits and five underground mines. It is forecast to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for export.
This would likely benefit other mines proposed for the basin in central Queensland. There are eight other mines proposed for the area and three of these have already been approved. Aussie mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer both have mining interests in the area.
The Carmichael mine proposal includes a 200km rail line to connect the mine to the coal port at Abbot Point. This will enable the coal to be shipped overseas.
IS THIS A ‘TITANIC’ MISTAKE?
The Abbot Point coal terminal has been controversial because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has expressed concerns about the impacts of dredging to create the port, which could see vast amounts of dredge spoils dumped into waters 20km from the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef, stretching for 2300km, and is home to more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 1625 types of fish and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.
UNESCO says Australia is not doing enough to protect the reef and has threatened to place it on the List of World Heritage in Danger if problems are not addressed within a year.
Its concerns are mainly related to the dumping of sludge as part of a dredging project for the major coal port expansion.
Even Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has waded into the debate, saying he had witnessed first-hand the “environmental devastation” of the reef.
At risk is the estimated $5.68 billion that the reef contributes to the Australian economy each year. A report commissioned by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority, found the reef also generated almost 69,000 jobs in 2011-12.
At full capacity the Carmichael Coal Mine would add another 480 ships crossing the reef, Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner Felicity Wishart told the Guardian.
“In an area home to humpback whales, sea turtles and dugongs,” Ms Wishart said.
The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world and lies underneath about 22 per cent of Australia, including parts of Queensland, NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Environmental consultant Tom Crothers, who previously managed environmental water allocation for the Queensland government, said approval for a fourth mining project in the Galilee Basin could threaten the local water supply.
Another 750 gigalitres of water could be taken from the Great Artesian Basin for the mine.
“That’s equivalent to three-and-a-half Sydney Harbours,” Mr Crothers told AAP.
“Bear in mind, there’s potentially another five mines on top of this.”
In total the four mines already approved could take a total of 1770 gigalitres of water from the system, environmental reports have shown.
“That’s enough drinking water for every Queenslander for three years. Even 10 kilometres away, water tables are expected to drop by over one metre,” a Greenpeace statement suggests.
It said Hunt had “laid out the red carpet for a coal company with a shocking track record to dig up the outback, dump on the Great Barrier Reef and fuel climate change”.
Adani has been fined in India for violating environmental conditions on its port development in Gujarat.
According to an Indian government review, it failed to monitor groundwater for pollution and was also criticised for destroying mangroves.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said the approval of the Carmichael mine would also destroy part of the remaining habitat of the endangered black-throated finch.
“While some of the conditions imposed by the environment minister are welcome, they cannot stop this mine from being an environmental disaster,” said campaigner Ruchira Talukdar.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt told ABC this morning that Adani would return a minimum of 730 megalitres of water to the Basin every year for five years. He said that final water modelling had also yet to be done.
“According to the federal environmental laws, we have still put 36 of the strictest, toughest conditions that have ever been imposed,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt said his conditions complemented those imposed by the Queensland government, which established 190 conditions to protect landholders, flora, groundwater resources and air quality, as well as controls on dust and noise during construction and operation.
When asked about the impact to the reef, Mr Hunt said the Carmichael mine was almost 500km inland in a dry, sparsely vegetated area.
“If you see the site from the air you realise this is the middle of deep outback Australia. It is nowhere near the coast,” he said.
“I think all that was said by Greenpeace was ‘unfortunate’, so it appears there is one rule for a Labor decision another rule for a Coalition Government decision,” Mr Hunt said.
But Greenpeace program director Ben Pearson hit back, saying: “A quick google search with ‘Greenpeace AND “Alpha Mine”’ shows Greenpeace was in fierce opposition to Alpha coal mine.
“A total of 2,190 google results come up with those exact words,” he said.
WHAT ARE THE STAKES?
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said the nine new mines in the Galilee Basin, would create a total of 15,000 construction jobs and 13,000 operational positions.
The Adani project alone is estimated to contribute $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy each year and to generate 2475 jobs during its construction phase. Another 3920 jobs would remain during mine operation.
“It’s going to boost our economic growth and royalties will come back to this state for many, many years,” Queensland Premier Campbell Newman told reporters on Monday.
Across its 60 year life, the Carmichael Coal Mine would have a resource value of $5 billion a year.
“It will help support the opening of Australia’s first new mineral province in 40 years,” Mr Robb said, adding that the commitment from major global company Adani was a welcome foreign investment.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the approval wouldn’t compromise “world-leading environmental standards”.
“Regional communities including Alpha, Clermont, Emerald, Bowen, Moranbah, Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville are all expected to benefit from the development of the so-far untapped resources in the Galilee Basin,” he said.
WILL IT ACTUALLY HAPPEN?
It remains to be seen whether the $10 billion coal mine will get built. There are investor concerns about a downturn in coal prices and a global supply glut of the commodity.
Thermal-coal prices are near five-year lows. This has coincided with increased supply but reduced demand from China.
It has made many new coal projects uneconomic and creates difficulty in raising financing for the big projects.
The Carmichael mine was proposed in 2010, at the height of the mining boom, a time when investors from countries such as India, Japan and China wanted to ensure their future coal supply.
But in order to see the mine built, Adani will need to invest significant funds into building the rail, water and power infrastructure and will also have to address legal challenges to its plans.
The state and federal government approvals so far cover the mine and the start of the rail link, however, the full rail plan has not yet received the go-ahead.
The plans to dredge Abbot Point to develop the port, is also being challenged.
It seems unlikely that the mining giant will actively pursue funding for its new mine until all approvals are in place.
news.com.au 29 July 2014
Watch how cheap Indian labour gets imported from overseas.
The Australian government is NOT a de jure government, but a CORPORATION subservient to the best interests of other corporations.
It is a fascist government falsely in power, where its people are under Martial Law.