Melbourne: Adani’s plan to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia received a boost on Thursday by a last-minute amendment to Queensland’s new water laws that would exempt the Indian mining giant’s controversy-hit 21.7 billion dollar project from any public objection process.
The Queensland government has granted Adani’s Carmichael mine project in the Galilee Basin an 11th-hour exemption to new water laws that could have seen the project subjected to further legal challenges. The government has introduced laws requiring Queensland mining projects to obtain a water licence, in an effort to reduce the impact on ground water.
However, the Annastacia Palaszczuk government on Wednesday added an amendment to the laws that will allow the Adani mine project, which has already faced significant legal action, to avoid court challenges to its water licence. Under the amendment, projects that have already finalised proceedings with the Land Court will be able to obtain a licence from the government without being subjected to challenges from the public, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
State environment minister Steven Miles had moved the amendment which would mean that companies that had already undergone scrutiny through an environmental impact statement (EIS) and the Land Court would still require a water licence but would not have to go through the public objection process. “This will be achieved by allowing associated water licence applications to be exempt from public notification if the mining project has already been through an EIS process and a Land Court objections hearing in which objectors tested the groundwater modelling undertaken by the project proponent with expert evidence of their own,” Miles said.
“That particular project has been through two very significant Land Court cases and so what we’ve said is if they can demonstrate that they have met the requirements of the water licence and all of those elements had been tested in previous Land Court hearings, then this water licence stage would not be appealable in the Land Court,” Miles said. “It would still be subject to potential judicial review, but not a full Land Court challenge,” he added.
In response to the latest move, Adani Australia welcomed the state government’s support for recognising that the company has already passed all scientific and legal examinations to ensure rigorous measures are in place to manage water impacts at its Carmichael coal mine. “The amendment recognises the significant work Adani has already done to manage water impacts and avoids unintended and unnecessary duplication and further delay for the 21 billion dollar projects involving a mine and infrastructure including a rail link and port developments,” Adani said in a statement. PTI