Trucks out on the ground at the Carmichael mine site.
Trucks out on the ground at the Carmichael mine site. Contributed

APPROVED: Adani's Carmichael mine gets the green light

MINING giant Adani will be allowed to break ground on its Carmichael coal mine after its groundwater management plan was approved today.

The Coordinator General's decision means nine years of red tape when it comes to the controversial mine has come to an end.

Adani Mining chief executive officer Lucas Dow said this was the day the company had been looking forward to.

"Regional Queenslanders have been beside us every step of the way and we thank them for their ongoing support. We're ready to start work on the Carmichael Project and deliver the jobs these regions so badly need," he said.

"The finalisation of the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan and Black-throated Finch Management Plan paves the way for construction to commence on the Carmichael Project and the delivery of much-needed jobs for regional Queenslanders.

"Moving forward, our priority is ensuring the safety of everyone who works on the project and that all construction activity meets the strict environmental requirements we have agreed to meet in our management plans and approvals.

"The project will deliver 1,500 direct and 6,750 indirect jobs during ramp up and construction, with Rockhampton and Townsville the primary hubs for employment. The Whitsunday, Isaac, Central Highlands, Mackay, Charters Towers and Gladstone regions will also benefit from work packages and employment opportunities."


Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow at the newly renamed Adani Arena.
Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow. Allan Reinikka ROK260419aadani2

In a media release, the Department of Environment and Science said Adani submitted its most recent version of the plan, addressing the department's feedback yesterday.

"The GDEMP assessment has been rigorous and based on the best available science. DES and Adani have met regularly to ensure the plan is robust and provides the maximum environmental protection," the department stated.

"In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia - the same advice considered by the Commonwealth Government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year.

"DES sought further clarification and advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, which it received on June 7.

"Based on this advice, DES is satisfied that the GDEMP sufficiently establishes the main source aquifer of the springs as the Clematis Sandstone.

"CSIRO and Geoscience Australia also confirmed that some level of uncertainty in geological and groundwater conceptual models always exists.

"DES has 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."

Additional commitments in the approved GDEMP include:

Further work to improve the understanding of the source aquifers of springs in the locality, particularly the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, including:

* Undertaking detailed hydrogeochemical analysis of groundwater and spring samples from different springs within each spring complex

* Undertaking isotopic analysis (including noble, radioactive gases and strontium isotopes where isotopic analysis is not sufficient)

* Examining core samples from new bores to attain a better understanding of hydraulic properties and provide detailed geological mapping

* Incorporating air-borne electro-magnetic modelling undertaken by Geoscience Australia to improve hydrogeological understanding of the area.

* Using a bore in the Dunda Beds (also known as the Rewan Formation) as an early warning trigger for groundwater drawdown monitoring in the Carmichael River.

Additional measures in the GDEMP also address concerns raised last week by Flinders University scientists that the Permian aquifers should not be ruled out as a Doongmabulla Springs Complex source.

These include installing a new bore below the Rewan Formation, in the vicinity of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, to assist in determining if the Permian aquifers (Colinlea) form a source for the springs.

Adani is also required to review hydrological, hydrochemistry analyses and seismic information as part of its second geological and groundwater remodelling after box cut mining starts, and review seismic information pertaining underground mining impacts (which is scheduled to start in year 10 of the project). Further seismic studies may also need to be undertaken.

Underground mining will not commence until these actions are completed and only if predicted impacts are consistent with approved impacts.

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

The GDEMP is the second of the two environmental management plans (the other being the Black-Throated Finch Management Plan, approved on May 31) that needed to be approved before Adani could begin significant mining activities at its Carmichael mine site.

Both plans are a requirement of Adani's environmental approval.

Today's approval comes after Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last month set deadlines on key measures the mining giant needed to pass before starting construction at the mine, located about 160km north west of Clermont.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad have yielded to pressure paving the way forward for the Adani mine.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. Courier Mail

Lock the Gate Alliance has condemned the State Government's decision.

Central Queensland grazier Bruce Currie, whose groundwater will be put at significant risk should the mine be built, said it was a kick in the teeth for all primary producers operating in the Galilee Basin.

"State and Federal politicians have ignored the scientists and pleas of farmers who are acutely aware of how much damage Adani's mine will have on vital underground water resources, including the Great Artesian Basin," Mr Currie said.

Climate Council chief executive officer Amanda McKenzie said the controversial mine was an ill-informed gamble and urged the State and Federal government's to prevent the project going ahead.

"Any approvals surrounding this monster mine are made without heeding the advice of the world's leading climate scientists. The proposed mine is nothing but a losing gamble with sky-high stakes and lousy odds," she said.

"Queenslanders are very vulnerable to worsening extreme weather, particularly floods and extreme heat. Burning coal is driving climate change. The reality is that we cannot have both thermal coal mining and a safe climate. It is one or the other."