The final approvals for the Adani Carmichael Coal mine could be granted within the next three weeks, with a new deadline seat by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for the project’s environmental approvals.
While stopping short of outright endorsing approval of the mine, the reading between the lines indicates that Palaszczuk has made her intentions clear – approvals for the mine need to be completed as quickly as possible to limit damage to state Labor’s re-election chances.
Palaszczuk has zeroed in on the Adani mine following Labor’s loss at the Federal election, going on a tour of regional north Queensland in an effort to show that her government is responding to the message sent by voters in the region.
The Adani Carmichael coal mine is set to become Australia’s largest coal mine, with initial production targets to be set at 27.5 million tonnes of coal a year, with the potential for this to grow to a maximum annual production of 60 million tonnes. Carmichael and the opening of the Galilee Basin has been labelled one of the world’s biggest “carbon bomb” by environmental activists.
There are two outstanding management plans to be approved by the Queensland Government. These include are a Black-throated Finch Management Plan and a Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan.
In a sign that is now expects that barriers for the project have now been removed, Adani CEO Lucas Dow welcomed the announcement from the Queensland premier.
“This is a positive step towards construction of the mine and rail project.” Dow said in a statement
“We will continue to uphold our end of the bargain and will undertake the necessary work to meet these timeframes, and we’re looking forward to the Queensland Government doing the same.
It is now expected that these plans will be approved within the three-week deadline issued by the Queensland premier.
“I know initially people thought this [would take] months, and what I’m announcing today is it is in a matter of weeks.” Palaszczuk said in relation to the approval of the two management plans.
In calling for Adani Australia to meet with the Coordinator-General to agree on a timeline for the mine’s approvals, Palaszczuk said that it was time to end the delays to the project.
“The community is sick of it, I’m sick of it, everyone is sick of the delays,” Palaszczuk said.
“Everyone has had more than enough time to resolve these issues and for some reason that has not occurred.”
“That all ends now.”
The expedited environmental approval process announced by premier Palaszczuk follow Adani agreeing to an Enforceable Undertaking stemming from the release of contaminated stormwater at the Abbot Point coal terminal.
Adani Australia reached an agreement with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) in relation to the contamination breaches, which saw contaminated water released into the Caley Valley Wetlands following Cyclone Debbie in 2017.
Under the enforceable undertaking, Adani will improve the monitoring of water discharges from its coal operations, and implement improved stormwater and emergency management processes. Adani was also fined $13,055 for the contamination.
Progressive think tank The Australia Institute has criticised the both the claimed jobs figures used to justify the need for the Adani mine, as well as what can be expected with regards to the flow on benefits to the Queensland economy.
Dear All, please stop debating whether #Adani mine is ‘economically viable’. With enough subsidies anything is. Subsidies can even make indoor pools and piano elevators at private schools ‘viable’. Free coal, free water and free infrastructure can make any mine ‘viable’ #auspol
— Richard Denniss (@RDNS_TAI) May 23, 2019
During court proceedings, Adani conceded that the project may create as little as 1,464 net new jobs for Queensland. Following the completion of the construction of the Adani mine, ongoing employment at the mine may be as little as 100 full-time jobs.
This figure may even provide to be an overestimate, with the size of the Adani mine being scaled back from its original plans.
The mine’s proponents have also promoted that there will be a high level of automation of operations at the mine, with the transport of coal produced at the site largely being undertaken by driverless vehicles.