The Adani coal mine has been approved by the Morrison government following high internal pressures to sign off prior to the federal election.
Environment Minister, Melissa Price, has given the go ahead for the Adani project with the approval of the groundwater management plans.
The Adani company has overcome the final hurdle in government approvals and now only awaits the Queensland government’s approval to proceed with the project.
The big question for many of us is, what does this mean for us and what does it mean for our environment? You may have seen the rally’s for climate change action and the #StopAdani over the past 3 years, so let’s see why we’re so opposed to the government’s approval.
Adani is a multinational company based in Ahmedabad, India. It’s a group that develops and operates mines, ports and power plants. The company has its fingers in a lot of pies across India, Indonesia and Australia in coal, gas and renewable energy sources.
The first red flag about the company was in 2015, when the Adani Mining chief executive, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, faced scrutiny due to a failure to disclose that a company he ran in Africa was guilty of environmental breaches.
The plan is to build the $22 billion Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin, west of Rockhampton in Northern Queensland. It’s said to be Australia’s largest coal mine once built and will last 25 to 60 years.
The second red flag, despite the obvious environmental impact of this mine, is that the mine will supply Indian power plants. It will produce enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people, so the coal isn’t even used here in Australia.
The third red flag, and debatably the biggest, is the environmental impact on groundwater in the Great Artisan Basin and endangered species in the area. Adani had to submit a management plan to protect the endangered Black Throated Finch and the sustainability and protection of the groundwater in the area.
Environmentalists state that the Adani plan has the potential to damage aquifers in the basin. This could damage groundwater dependent rivers and springs, and furthermore creating water shortages for farmers and communities in Northern Queensland.
Government scientists of the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, are however unhappy about the approval and believe the modelling used by Adani to put forward their environmental standards was “not suitable.”
The agencies’ report said.
“A number of limitations were also identified in the proposed monitoring and management approaches, indicating they are not sufficiently robust to monitor and minimise impacts to protected environments,”
Doubt has been cast over the company’s plan to protect the environment and whether this “management plan” was purely to tick some boxes to have the project approved.
Greens senator Larissa Waters stated in reference to the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia reports there were concerns raised that have not been addressed.
“If you read the detail of the reports, it’s clear the scientists say there’s massive concern and the minister has ignored it because she’s under political pressure to tick off on this.”
Over 180 environmental conditions were put in place for the company in 2016 to protect the environment if the mine was to be developed. The Adani Mining chief executive officer, Lucas Dow, stated that underground water levels would be tracked using more than 100 monitoring bores. This does not mean that the mine will not impact the Great Artisan Basin and have fundamental impacts on the future of the environment in Northern Queensland and the groundwater resources.
Ms Price only approved the plans after the company agreed to boost early monitoring systems between the mine and the nearby Doongmabulla Springs wetland, to respond immediately to any unexpected groundwater impact and to repeat modelling works within two years of coal being extracted.
Ms Price stated that the project had been “subject to the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia”
However, further doubt is cast by the hasty choice of the federal government for the Adani project approval in lieu of the upcoming election announcement.
Queensland coalition MP’s have been pushing for the environmental minister to make her decision before Prime Minister Scott Morrison goes for the federal election.
Labor leader Bill Shorten claimed that Ms Price was being bullied into the decision to approve the mine, and in what he described as a “failure of ethics in government at the highest level”. This casts doubts on whether the environmental protection propositions are sufficient by the Adani company and whether this was a rushed political announcement rather than being stringent with the environmental policies.
The Lock Gate Alliance spokeswoman Carmel Flint said, “This rushed decision just prior to the election is one of the most compromised environmental approvals this country has ever seen,” adding that independent water experts “have identified glaring failures with the water plan”.
What does it mean for us as young people? Well, if Adani Coal Mine is approved by the Queensland government, there could be monumental impacts on the future of our environment; in particular, the ground water system in Northern Australia. This could result in long-term destruction of the equilibrium of the ecosystem, and irreparable damage to the future of communities in Australia.
In a time of need for climate change action, Adani mines are a step backwards in the need for renewable energy resources. We need to be looking forward for innovative energy resources and the evidence that coal usage has clearly impacted our environment negatively.
The Adani mines will have a huge impact on the future for young Australians and our environment, so we need to be acting now and saying no to rushed decisions by politicians.
Feature image: Unsplashed (a coal mine photograph from the website. This is not the Adani coal mine.)