Hunt approves Carmichael mega-coal mine and rail project, again | RenewEconomy

Hunt approves Carmichael mega-coal mine and rail project, again

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Environment minister green-lights Qld mega-coal mine development, two months after his original approval of the controversial project was overturned by the Federal Court.

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Federal environment minister Greg Hunt has given the green light to the Carmichael coal mine and rail infrastructure development in Queensland, just two months after his original approval of the controversial and economically questionable project was overturned by the Federal Court.

Hunt said in a media statement on Thursday afternoon that his decision to re-approve what would be the biggest new coal mine in Australia was in accordance with national environmental law and in consideration of additional information provided by the project’s Indian developer, Adani Group, as well as by local environmental groups, including the Mackay Conservation Group, the Environmental Defenders Office and the Australian Conservation Foundation.


Funded by, it was the work of Mackay Conservation Group that led to Hunt’s first approval being overturned, after it brought a case arguing that the Coalition environment minister had incorrectly assessed the project’s climate and environment impacts, ignoring both the advice of his own Department, and the poor environmental record of Adani.

The court ruled in favor of setting aside the federal approval, based on Hunt’s failure to factor in conservation advice for two Commonwealth-listed vulnerable species.

But Hunt, who last year described the proponents of the legal challenge as being “against electricity”, said these species had now been duly factored in via “strict” conditions attached to the approval, including the requirement of $1 million in funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species in the Galilee Basin over 10 years.

“The conditions I have imposed take into account issues raised by the community and ensure that the proponent must meet the highest environmental standards,” Hunt’s media release said.

“The rigorous conditions will protect threatened species and provide long-term benefits for the environment through the development of an offset package. These measures must be approved by myself before mining can start.”

Hunt stressed that he had the power to suspend or revoke the approval, and to apply “strict” penalties, if the “strict” conditions were breached. He said Department of Environment compliance and enforcement officers would closely monitor the operation of the mine.

Hunt also noted, at the end of his release, that he had “remade the approval decision” for Adani Mining’s North Galilee Basin Rail Project, “with 23 strict conditions, as a precautionary measure to provide investment certainty.”

This might sound ironic to the renewable energy industry – for which investment certainty has been at a premium for some time now, due largely to the antics of Hunt’s own party – but it might also confuse industry watchers who have warned that the Adani-led mega-coal mine and port project is loaded with ‘unprecedented’ levels of financial complexity and risk, including the climate risk attached to digging up coal in a warming world with an increasingly tight carbon budget.

Needless to say, green groups are not happy with Hunt’s decision, not least of all the Mackay Conservation Group, which says the reapproval still risks threatened species, as well as precious ground water, the global climate and taxpayers’ money.

“Minister Hunt has again failed the people of Australia by ignoring new evidence on the devastating impacts of what would be Australia’s largest coal mine,” said the group’s co-ordinator, Ellen Roberts.

“With Adani’s job figures revealed to be fictitious and the global financial markets backing away from coal and towards renewables, the sensible decision from Minister Hunt would have been to reject this mine with all its unattractive baggage,” she said.

Greenpeace also condemned the decision, describing the project as “a complete disaster” for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef, but noting that it was by no means a certainty to go ahead, with more and more banks ruling themselves out of backing the Adani proposal.

“We are appalled that the Australian federal government has chosen to reapprove the Carmichael project, but the reality is that Adani are a long way from getting the mine operational,” said Greenpeace campaigner Shani Tager on Thursday.

“It fails the triple bottom line — it would be an environmental disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef, it would not make a profit, and it does not have social licence from the community.

“It’s a dangerous pipedream. Fortunately for the Reef, and the climate, Carmichael has been rejected by 14 major banks, Queensland’s treasury department has described the project as ‘unbankable’ and no other investors are prepared to get behind a project that needs $16.5 billion.”

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  1. Ciriindir 5 years ago

    Thanks for reporting on this. What can we as individuals do now to help ensure this high-risk project won’t be able to go ahead?

    • John Knox 5 years ago

      You can get involved with non-violent direct action (NVDA) against the Carmichael mine. This is perhaps the ONLY kind of direct action likely to produce a reduction in emissions!
      Google “Flood the system” or go to{%22ref%22%3A5%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22[{%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22main_list%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A[]}]%22}&aref=5 for more information…
      When our leaders won’t lead, it’s incumbent upon the rest of us to show them the way…

    • John Saint-Smith 5 years ago

      I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a mite ‘radicalized’ by this decision, and I’m not the least bit under the influence of an Imam or a drug.

      • Petra Liverani 5 years ago

        Exactly. When I saw “Radicalised” on the front page of the paper I immediately thought that’s what we all need to be – not by religious ideology but from concern about the implacable path – despite the loudly-reverberating evidence it’s the wrong one – our supposed leaders persist on.

    • Jacob 5 years ago

      Email Adani saying the price of coal is at an 8 year low.

      And tell him that his federal energy minister does not want to import thermal coal.

    • mick 5 years ago


  2. trackdaze 5 years ago

    Forget about the skink this threatens us all.

  3. Geoff 5 years ago

    Liberal polls has just gone down. The thought or argument saying that Galilee coal is of higher quality reducing CO2 by 40% when burnt is a lie. what about the other 60%?

  4. Phil Patterson 5 years ago

    Everybody deep down knew he would, not a big surprise. The
    good news is that global coal prices have plummeted from $130 a tonne in 2008 to $58 currently. The predicted global import of thermal coal next year is to drop by 9% or 95 million tonnes in the space of a year, and it’s predicted to
    keep going that way. China has dropped it’s coal imports by almost 40% from last year and is phasing out it’s coal stations and coal power for solar wind, hydro and nuclear with reforestation efforts in a massive way over the next 15
    years. India has officially stated it wants to have ZERO coal imports withinthe next three years and global economic models predict that will happen within 8 years at the latest. Proof they mean it? India’s own coal imports have peaked
    this year back in May, already down by 6% from this time last year. India has a renewable energy target of 40% by 2030 and wants 100GW of added solar power by 2022 and 50GW of wind energy added by the same date. China has already added 10
    GW of solar power this year alone. Beijing will have closed down all coal power stations by 2017. Oh, and let’s remember, the federal and Qld government has ruled out funding this with tax payer’s money and 14 of the world’s majorbanks, including two of Australia’s big four have publically ruled out financing it at all. Sure, he can rubber stamp this as much as he wants, who’s going to buy it? Come on, tell me, who? I’m all ears……… that’s right. Nobody. It has BUGGER all chance of ever getting up.

    If you wanted more? Coal India, the biggest energy company in the country, just financed 1 GW worth of solar power in their own country, and Adani themselves have pledged more than double that for added solar power in their OWN country.
    These are formerly fossil-fuel dominated companies remember. Why is this happening? Because the global economy and the
    majority of the business and private organisation community (not all sure, but most) are actually winning this for us. They divest from fossil fuels, invest in cheaper, more efficient, advanced technologies of renewables and low
    emissions sources, drive the price of these down further and further, and drop the worth, the value and need for fossil fuels on their own. And there’s only
    so much subsidising a government can do before it has to stop and cut themloose. And there’s not a thing they can do about it. So, this change is happening and will happen. The only remaining question is if it’s going to be fast enough and in time to transition to a 100% non-fossil fuel system and net zero emissions system with net zero deforestation and net zero marine biomass loss within 40 years, which is more or less the cut off point for keeping below the 2 degrees threshold.

  5. david H 5 years ago

    There is a lot of noise about the proposed Adani mega coal mine so I decided to see what other mines are proposed in the Galilee Basin and found this list of proposed coal mines and major project sponsors:

    The mines proposed so far include:

    Waratah Coal’s ‘China First’ (also known as ‘Galilee Coal’), ‘Alpha North’ and ‘Carmichael East’ mines;

    GVK and Hancock’s ‘Alpha’, ‘Kevin’s Corner’ and ‘Alpha West’ mines;

    AMCI and Bandanna’s ‘South Galilee’ mine;

    Adani’s ‘Carmichael’ mine;

    MacMines ‘China Stone’ mine;

    Vale’s ‘Degulla’ mine.

  6. john 5 years ago

    The project needs a price of $75 AU to break even.
    So the Newcastle price has to be above $80 a tonne so this output can be above $75, due to lower quality.
    I do not see any rush to infest in this so while it may be approved I do not see a business case.

  7. Mags 5 years ago

    I really think there is something else going on here. This is clearly not about an economically viable coal mine. There is some hidden agenda, we just need to work out what it is?????

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