Adani's Carmichael Mine hits its final hurdle

ADANI could begin work on its Carmichael Mine site tomorrow if the State Government ticked off on two final plans.

After the Federal Government yesterday approved groundwater management plans for the coal mine, all eyes turned to the final hurdles at state level.

The State Government must approve the Black-throated Finch Management Plan and the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan before Adani can move forward.

Adani says the mine will create 1500 direct jobs and 6750 indirect jobs during the construction phase.

"Now we need the State Labor government to stop dragging their heels and get on with the job of creating these jobs,” Resources Minister Matt Canavan said.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said Annastacia Palaszczuk was now the only person standing in the way of the mine.

"This project just needs a fair go ... because we need more jobs for Queensland,” she said.

"This project has been eight years in the making and now it is time to take the shackles off.”

But Queensland environment minister Leeanne Enoch said initial advice indicated "a number of uncertainties” remained based on a CSIRO and GeoScience Australia report she received less than 30 minutes before the Federal Government gave the green light.

"This includes whether the GDEMP definitively identifies the source aquifers of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, which has always been a requirement for state approval,” she said.

"I am very concerned that Barnaby Joyce's and Matt Canavan's political campaign reeks of political interference, and may have compromised the integrity of the decision-making process.

"Adani has also, just today, provided (the department) with their latest version of the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan. The GDEMP will be considered against Queensland's own environmental conditions.

"Queensland decisions will be made by the environmental regulator, free from political interference.”

Environmentalists slammed the Morrison Government for caving to pressure ahead of the impending election, which could turn on the coal mining electorates of Dawson and Capricornia but must be balanced against loud left-leaning Victorian voters.

Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman said: "They've tried to keep the billionaires happy, and pitted regional (Queenslanders) who need jobs against the environment”.

Mackay Conservation Group spokesman Michael Kane said the environment minister had been put under immense political pressure to deliver a complex approval to suit the election timetable of the Liberal National Party and the approval could not be trusted.

"We can't trust this approval any more than we can trust Adani. This decision is not supported by science,” he said.

Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow
Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow

Adani Mining chief Lucas Dow said the company's water management plans detailed all the activities it would undertake and safeguards it would implement to ensure "we meet the approval conditions for the mine relating to groundwater”.

"This includes a network of more than 100 monitoring bores to track underground water levels,” he said.

"The plans will ensure we achieve sustainable environmental outcomes and we're now looking forward to delivering the thousands of jobs our project will create for people in North and Central Queensland.”

Mr Dow also attacked the State Government, pleading with them to stop shifting the goal posts "so we can get on with delivering these jobs”.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council said the environmental approvals process had been corrupted and the science was not properly followed, placing their country and cultural heritage at extreme risk.

Spokesman Adrian Burragubba said the council was now seeking legal advice on options to challenge the federal decision.

"No-one should believe this approval means Adani can move ahead. This is nothing more than a politically convenient decision by the Liberal National Coalition,” he said.

RMIT associate professor Matthew Currell, who independently reviewed the water plan last year, said he believed Carmichael Mine would potentially have significant impacts on groundwater-dependent ecosystems in Central Queensland, including the nationally protected Doongmabulla Springs Complex.

"Possible impacts include drying up of spring wetlands and reduced flows of groundwater to spring vents and pools, which could lead to irreversible ecological and cultural damage,” he said.

"The management plan prepared by Adani to monitor and protect against such impacts in late 2018 was hampered by data gaps and scientific uncertainties, which resulted in the identification of serious short-comings in the plan's assessment and management approach.”