IN LIMBO: Doongmabulla Springs are located 11km from the proposed Carmichael mine site.
IN LIMBO: Doongmabulla Springs are located 11km from the proposed Carmichael mine site. LOCK THE GATE

Adani's groundwater plan conditions could delay mining

DIGGING in to the Department of Science and Environment's approval of Adani's groundwater plan has confirmed that although approved, some environmental factors could send the miner back to the drawing board.

Thursday's statement from the department said Adani's groundwater-dependent ecosystem management plan would be subject to further study before mining could start.

DES said that it had "required additional commitments from Adani to undertake further scientific work over the next two years".

"This is required to identify any potential contribution from other aquifers and strengthen the GDEMP," it said.

Adani must add a bore to determine the source aquifer of the Doongmabulla Springs, at the centre of the plan.

The source aquifer has caused headaches for Adani throughout the approval process with the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia raising concerns in their review of the plan.

Adani stated "Clematis Sandstone is a major source aquifer", and included this in infographics released to the public.


Doongmabulla springs graphic
Doongmabulla springs graphic Adani Australia

However, the review found "sufficient uncertainty" in hydro-geochemistry, inter-aquifer connectivity and groundwater flow to suggest otherwise.

It also found evidence of Permian sediment in one part of the springs which could suggest an alternative source.

If the bore to be added finds Permian aquifers as the source, the miner would need further approval, because the source was not correctly identified in Adani's GDEMP.

Clematis Sandstone sits between the springs and the coal seam, but the coal seam sits between the springs and the Permian layer.

If the Permian layer is identified as a source aquifer, coal seam (mining) would affect the springs.

It is unclear what rectification would be required and how long that would take.

"Underground mining will not commence until these actions are completed and only if predicted impacts are consistent with approved impacts," last Thursday's statement read.

"Likewise, if the hydro-geological conceptualisation differs from that of the approved project, approval must be sought prior to relevant impact-causing activities."

This was confirmed by a department spokesperson.

"Adani have made a commitment that underground mining will not commence until the additional scientific work is completed," he said.

"Approval will need to be sought if predicted impacts differ from those already approved."

An Adani spokeswoman said the company recognised the "stringent" environmental standards and changes to estimates and modelling were possible but "unlikely".

"More than 100 groundwater monitoring bores will be established to observe and protect underground water levels," she said.

"The data collected at the groundwater monitoring bores will enable us to ensure our water management practices are safe and sustainable."


Doongmabulla springs graphic
Doongmabulla springs graphic Adani Australia