The Queensland Government has approved Adani’s Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) for the Carmichael coal mine. Since the news broke, we have received countless questions about the approval decision and what it means for the future of this mega mine, as well as climate action in Australia.
So, what happened?
The Queensland Government approved Adani’s Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP), which was the final plan that needed approval before Adani could begin construction works at the mine site. This means Adani is now able to start constructing things like access roads, potable water treatment and sewage treatment plants, new power stations, administrative buildings and water storage infrastructure.
However, there are a few other things that still need to happen before Adani can actually begin digging for coal.
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Tell me more.
Adani still needs two more federal approvals before it can begin extracting coal. These are:
- Approval for its Great Artesian Basin Springs Research Plan (which investigates methods to prevent impacts on the ancient desert Doongmabulla Springs Complex)
- Approval for its Rewan Formation Connectivity Research Plan (concerned with the mine’s impact on the Rewan Formation, a geological formation which restricts underground water flow between the Galilee and Great Artesian Basins)
Adani also needs to develop a program to monitor and manage groundwater throughout all phases of the mining operation (which must include baseline data on current groundwater conditions). This needs to be submitted to the Queensland Government for approval at least 90 days before coal extraction commences.
Additionally, the Traditional Owners and Native Title Applicants of the land in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, brought a case to the Federal Court in May last year. The case contested the validity of Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement, which extinguishes native title over 2,750 hectares of land needed by Adani for “critical infrastructure” for its mining operations. A decision is expected in late August – early September.
So while Adani has been given the all clear to start construction, the coal will stay in the ground for a little while yet. And we will fight to keep it there.
You might have also heard about a Federal Court win recently. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), won a case against the Federal Government. The court decision means that the Government will need to reopen public submissions to Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme. However, approval for the scheme will not affect whether Adani can begin construction.
There are a few other agreements that need to be secured with various third parties, but this can happen during the construction phase. These include securing a lease on Moray Downs land to allow for rail line construction and a worker’s camp and airport. Adani also needs to secure an agreement with rail freight operator, Aurizon, whose rail line they want to use to transport coal to the port.
And there are also short-term financing and long-term economic considerations which will test the commercial viability of the Adani Carmichael mine as the world moves rapidly away from coal.
What can we do now?
People power ensured that Australia’s big four banks as well as financial institutions, insurers and contractors turned their backs on this project, forcing Adani to reduce its planned output. And we know that people power won’t slow down now.
As a community committed to a coal-free future for Australia, our work together is now more important than ever. Together, we must continue to hold the government accountable and keep fighting with the facts.
Check out our Community Toolkit for ideas about how you can take action on climate change.
The bottom line
Burning coal is driving climate change, and opening up the Galilee Basin would be a climate disaster. Australia is vulnerable to worsening extreme weather, including fires, floods and extreme heat. The reality is that we cannot have both thermal coal mining and a safe climate.
This latest decision is a stark reminder of the power our leaders wield in influencing decisions that shape our future. We must continue to pressure our state and federal governments to act urgently on climate change.
Because in the face of climate crisis, there is no other option.