Eleventh hour wait as Adani hangs on final Federal tick
IT could be the D-Day moment for the Adani Carmichael Mine as it waits for Federal Government approval of its Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan.
The final plan was submitted to the Department of Environment in the first week of March and Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow says he has been advised the department has recommended that Minister Melissa Price approve the plan.
But once the election is called, and the government goes into caretaker mode, no decision can be made, meaning it could be a Labor government handed the final decision.
Mr Dow said the company had been working constructively with both the Australian and Queensland governments to finalise the outstanding Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan.
The plan is a regulatory document that outlines the actions Adani will take to protect the Doongmabulla Springs and other groundwater dependent species during the construction and operation of the Carmichael mine.
"Part of this two year process has involved the Federal Department of Environment and Energy engaging an independent scientific review of the plan by technical experts from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia," Mr Dow said.
"The federal department informed us that these experts made a number of recommendations in relation to improving our plan and then provided Adani with a list of recommendations from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia to incorporate in our plan."
All of the recommendations were incorporated into an updated and final version of the management plan which was submitted to the Department of Environment and Energy a number of weeks ago.
"Through our continued engagement with the Department of Environment and Energy we have been advised that the department has made the recommendation to Minister Price to approve the plan," Mr Dow said.
"We have had certainty of process and timing from Australian Government to date and we will continue to work with them to finalise this outstanding management plan so that we can get on with delivering thousands of jobs into north and central Queensland."
The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan is one of two outstanding management plans required for Adani to start construction and mining.
It has been through 11 rounds of assessment with the Australian and Queensland Governments over more than two years and reviewed by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia with all recommendations from both organisations addressed and complied with.
As part of the approval requirements, Adani Mining was required to identify the source aquifer of the Springs.
The source aquifer has been identified as the Clematis Sandstone geological layer, which is separated from the mine by a 250-300m impervious layer of claystone called the Reran Formation.
A spokesperson for Adani said false claims were made in September last year by the Environmental Defenders Office that illegal drilling had been undertaken before approvals were given.
"All activities that have occurred onsite are legal and within our approvals for stage 1 project activities under our Environmental Authority," the spokesperson said.
"When these claims were raised we made it clear we were not dewatering for mining operations.
"Drilling (five bores) had been undertaken at the Carmichael mine site to take geological samples and monitor underground water levels and we sent the regulator reports on these bores, which are publicly available online.
"We welcome the Australian Government's Department of Environment and Energy's investigation findings in December 2018 that confirm Adani Mining has not engaged in illegal activity."
A spokesperson for the Federal Department of Environment said the department had briefed the minister on Adani's groundwater dependant ecosystem management plan and it was now a matter for the minister.
The Minister's office did not respond to questions from The Morning Bulletin before deadline.
- May 2014 - The Environmental Impact Statement was approved by the Queensland Government.
- October 2015 - The Environmental Impact Statement was approved by the Australian Government.
- 2015 - The Land Court reaffirmed the Rewan Formation would be effective in protecting the Great Artesian Basin and Doongmabulla Springs.
- February 2016 - The Carmichael Project's Environmental Authority was granted by the Queensland Environment Department.
- 2016 - 2018 - Adani has delivered 10 versions of the GDEMP for assessment by the Australian and Queensland Government.
- March 2017 - The Associated Water Licence was granted by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources.
- 2019 - Australian and Queensland Governments are assessing the GDEMP and GMMP.