Indian mining company, Adani, is facing attempts to block the opening of the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland. This comes after permission was granted by the federal government allowing the company to pump unsustainably high litres of water from the Suttor River within the drought-stricken state.
In the region of 12.5 billion litres per annum are tipped to be extracted. Kelly O’Shanassy of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has labelled this as reckless and counterproductive in the current drought conditions and in light of future climate change. Climate change will be exacerbated by the additional coal mined, while the mine itself makes the region less resilient. The ACF has instituted legal proceedings, arguing that Environment Minister, Melissa Price’s, decision to waive a full environmental assessment for the water extraction pipeline was flawed.
A water trigger indicates a mine, which will extract a significantly high volume from the local water resource and results in added compliance and oversight requirements. However, the water pipeline for the Carmichael project was not assessed because the water will not be used directly in the coal extraction process, but rather for other on-site functions.
Environmental groups and communities are concerned because drought-stricken farmers are already struggling to keep livestock provisioned. In addition, vulnerable wetlands depend on flow from the Suttor River for their existence.
Adani’s questionable past behaviour
After failing to secure outside funding and fighting through many years of delays to the Carmichael mine, the company recently announced that it will self-fund the entire project. It has engaged in environmentally damaging behaviour at various times in the past. Legal action was commenced in relation to pollution of the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, where water around 800 percent more polluted than allowed was released during Cyclone Debbie in 2017. They are also currently under investigation for allegedly sinking groundwater bores without approval.
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