MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia's Adani Mine Blocked by Aboriginal Groups and Environmentalists

Published by MAC on 2015-03-27
Source: International Business Times, Guardian,

Adani's proposed coal mine in Queensland is under attack on a number of fronts; Aboriginal land owners are withholding their consent and a recent scientific report has emphasised the potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

The report mentioned below can be downloaded here

Previous article on MAC: Is Adani's Ozzie venture on the rocks?

Australia's $16B Carmichael Mine Blocked By Aboriginal Groups

Aditya Tejas

International Business Times

26 March 2015

Australian Aboriginal clans issued a challenge to the planned development of a major coal mine on their ancestral land in the Queensland region on Thursday, according to media reports. The clash is set to be the biggest case in recent history involving Australia’s native title law.

Representatives from the Wangan and Jagalingou people have formally rejected an agreement, which allowed Indian mining firm Adani develop its $16 billion Carmichael mine in the Galilee basin region, ABC Australia reported.

Adani has called upon the national native title tribunal to quash the objection, requesting a lease from the state government for the mine rights. A group of environmentalists, ecological experts and economists are also set to challenge the planned mine in Queensland’s land and environmental court next week.

Wangan and Jagalingou elder Adrian Burragubba reportedly wrote to the Queensland premier to warn that the mine would “tear the heart out of our country.” He told the Guardian that the mine threatened the Aboriginals’ way of life. “The mine will destroy the natural environment, it will damage our laws and customs beyond repair and further dispossess our people.

“If the Queensland government succumbs to pressure from companies like Adani, there’s no hope for Aboriginal people. All our rights will be overridden.”

However, Adani said that the statements made by the elder were unauthorized, and that the Aboriginal groups had been in talks with the company. "Adani does not believe that the W&J [Wangan and Jagalingou] don't want this mine as the W&J have been and continue to be actively involved in negotiations around delivery of the mine on terms acceptable to the W&J," a spokesman said, according to the Business Spectator. Adani also said it was aware of at least one other incident where an individual had made comments that were not in line with the goals of the Wangan and Jagalingou authorities.

Burragubba told The Australian that Adani’s comments were deeply offensive, and that he spoke on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. "I am from there - I'm from nowhere else," he said.

"It's an insult to me, because what they're doing is undermining our decision-making process.

"The decision has been made - no means no."

The Carmichael mine is set to become one of the biggest in the world, which would produce an estimated 60 million tons of coal a year. The Australian government projects that it would add 10,000 jobs to the country.

The Wangan and Jagalingou people had filed an application for native title recognition in 2004, for an area that would cover around 30,000 sq. km. (11, 583 sq. miles) in central Queensland. The application is under review, but mining companies are still required to get the authorization of the Aboriginal groups for land use.

The Indian mining firm has also been criticized by Australian environmental groups for its plans to expand a coal port in Queensland, which environmental groups say would cause major damage to the Great Barrier Reef. U.S. banking companies including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have vowed not to fund the port expansion project.

Adani’s business practices in India have also been criticized, especially its development of the country's largest private port in the town of Mundra in the western state of Gujarat. Environmental group Greenpeace said the project caused the destruction of mangroves and ecosystems, and “severely disrupted” the lives of local fishermen.

Aboriginal group fights to stop $16bn Carmichael coalmine, Australia’s largest

Indian firm Adani has appealed to the native title tribunal to bypass the traditional owners’ rejection of the Queensland mine


25 March 2015

An Aboriginal group in central Queensland is attempting to prevent Australia’s largest mine from being established on its ancestral land, in what is shaping up to be an unprecedented test of the country’s native title laws.

Representatives for the Wangan and Jagalingou people have formally rejected an Indigenous land use agreement that would see Indian mining firm Adani develop its huge $16bn Carmichael mine in the coal-rich Galilee basin region.

However, Adani has turned to the national native title tribunal to override this objection, which would allow the state government to issue a lease for the mine.

Wangan and Jagalingou elder Adrian Burragubba has written to the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to uphold what he sees as the clan’s native title rights, warning that the mine would “tear the heart out of our country”.

Burragubba told Guardian Australia that a deal to consent to the mine was rejected at a Wangan and Jagalingou meeting in October, prompting Adani to turn to the tribunal.

“We don’t consent to this large coalmine on our homelands, we have made it very clear to Adani that no means no,” he said. “The mine will destroy the natural environment, it will damage our laws and customs beyond repair and further dispossess our people.

“If the Queensland government succumbs to pressure from companies like Adani, there’s no hope for Aboriginal people. All our rights will be overridden.”

The Carmichael mine will be one of the largest in the world, covering more than 200 sq km and extracting 297 billion litres of water from local aquifers.

Burragubba said the proposed area for the mine includes the habitats of animals such as emus and echidnas as well as certain trees, all of which are considered totemic beings by the Wangan and Jagalingou people. The associated damming of the Belyando river is also of huge concern, he said.

“That river is important for dreaming because it travels through the heart of the country, the waterways relate to the rainbow serpent and our totems in the trees,” Burragubba said.

“If we lose that connection to land, there will be nothing left. We will be annihilated. We exist as people from that land. That’s all we are, we can only identify from what is there.”

The Wangan and Jagalingou people lodged an application for native title recognition in July 2004, for an area covering around 30,000 sq km of central Queensland. While the application is still under review, mining companies are still required to negotiate with the group to agree on land use. A decision from the native title tribunal is expected soon.

Queensland lawyer Stephen Keim, who is not acting in the case, said the complete rejection of the mine was the first of its kind and sets up a “significant event in the history of native title”.

“This is the first case with such a strong impasse, where the native title party has said ‘well we don’t want to negotiate compensation, we don’t want the action to go ahead,’” he said. “The native title act doesn’t give the right of veto, you’ve just got to keep working until you get an agreement.

“This situation does allow the arbitration process to say no, so perhaps for the first time we’ll see that happen. The impression has been that the arbiter has always seen mining as very important, but maybe this is the one.

“The native title act was a great compromise, it gave a lot to both sides. This case raises the issue of whether not giving Indigenous parties the right of veto was the correct compromise. Australia as a whole has to make its mind up on that.”

Keim said the situation the traditional owners find themselves in is seemingly at odds with the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which calls for indigenous people to have “free, prior and informed consent” to any major action that affects them. Australia endorsed the declaration in 2009.

“If you have a native title party which says ‘I don’t consent’ that seems by definition to amount to an absence of free and informed consent,” he said. “We have to ask whether anything less than giving a veto complies with the UN declaration. That’s a test for us as a nation.”

The Carmichael mine has become a target for environmental campaigners over its impact upon the local environment as well as its ramifications for climate change.
Greg Hunt failed to check record of company behind $16.5bn coalmine, says writ
Read more

Adani’s own environmental impact statement estimates the mine will release more than 200m tonnes of carbon dioxide over its 60-year life, with the 60m tonnes of coal produced a year giving off a further 130m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year when burned.

The project is currently being challenged in the courts, with the Mackay Conservation Group claiming that federal environment minister Greg Hunt failed to properly consider Adani’s questionable environmental record in India when he approved the mine.

A number of high-profile banks, including Citi, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, have ruled out funding the expansion of the Abbot Point port, which will be used to export coal from the Carmichael mine. A 300km rail line will connect the mine and the port.

A spokeswoman for Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines said the Wangan and Jagalingou people’s native title claim was currently stalled as it overlapped some of the same land subject to another native title claim lodged by the Bidjara people.

“The department has not been a party to any negotiations for an Indigenous land use agreement between the Wangan Jagalingou people and other parties over mining in the Galilee Basin, including the Carmichael mine project,” she said.

Burragubba is one of three named applicants in the Wangan and Jagalingou people’s tribunal case. However, Adani has said he is an “individual who is not authorised to speak on behalf of W&J, whilst purporting to do so”.

“Adani is aware of at least one instance where the authorised majority of the W&J applicant instructed that the native title tribunal should disregard an individual statement of one of its group because there had been a unanimous decision not to make a submission on two of Adani’s mining lease applications,” an Adani spokesman said.

“A part of the process established at law is a structured framework to ensure clarity and openness of process and timelines, including with reference to the national native title tribunal. Adani continues to negotiate with the W&J’s authorised representatives towards terms acceptable to all parties.”

Coal projects, port expansion could permanently damage Great Barrier Reef: report

Andrew Topf

22 March 2015

The Great Barrier Reef is at risk of permanent damage should huge coalmining and a port development in Queensland go ahead, scientists say in a new report.

"Industrializing the Great Barrier Reef coastline will cause further stress to what is already a fragile ecosystem," reads an executive summary of the report by the Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS). The report was drawn from five reef scientists from Australian universities and submitted to the United Nations.

In it, the scientists say that nine proposed mines in the Galilee Basin will produce coal that, at capacity, will emit 705 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, making the basin the seventh largest source of CO2 emissions in the world. Warming ocean waters said to be caused by climate change can cause corals to bleach and die. According to the report, in the last 27 years the Great Barrier Reef has lost over half of its coral cover.

“ACRS believe that a broad range of policies should be urgently put in place as quickly as possible to reduce Australia’s record high per capita carbon emissions to a much lower level,” the report states.

“Such policies are inconsistent with opening new fossil fuel industries like the mega coalmines of the Galilee Basin. Doing so would generate significant climate change that will permanently damage the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef.”

The society is therefore calling for a halt to Galilee Basin mines, including the A$6.9 billion Alpha coal project and the US$4.2 billion Kevin's Corner mine which, at a production capacity of 30 million tonnes of thermal coal annually, would be Australia's largest coal mine. Both mines are being developed by GVK-Hancock, an Indian-Australian consortium. ACRS is also urging the Queensland and federal governments to rethink a planned expansion of the Abbot Point port, where the coal would be loaded into coal carriers for export.

The expansion calls for the dredging of 5 million tonnes of seabed in order to facilitate increased shipping through the reef.

"Dredging for the Abbot Point expansion will have substantial negative impacts on surrounding seagrass, soft corals and other macroinvertebrates, as well as turtles, dugongs and other megafauna,” the scientists say, adding that a further impact of the expansion will be an increase in coal dust pollution over the Great Barrier Reef.

This time last year the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority approved a permit for the state-owned coal terminal operator to dump as much as 3 million cubic meters of dredged sediment inside the Great Barrier Reef, a 345,400 square-kilometre marine park along the country's eastern coast. However last October, Australia’s Queensland state government backed plans for dumping dredging waste from the expansion of coal export terminals at Abbot Point onshore, instead of near the Great Barrier Reef.

In 2013 more than 150 marine scientists from 33 institutions signed a letter warning Australian authorities of the mounting threats new coal ports and other industrial projects pose to the reef’s habitat.

Adani’s Queensland coal project in turmoil as doubts surface over State Bank of India loan

Greenpeace blog on BankTrack

14 March 2015

Sydney - Adani's controversial Queensland Carmichael coal mine looks to be in jeopardy following reports that the State Bank of India (SBI) is preparing to decide against giving the company a planned $1 billion loan for the project due to concerns over its financial viability.

In reaction, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Nikola Casule said:

"State Bank of India analysts seem to have realised that this project has no future. The wider financial community has long ago recognised that the project is on shaky financial ground. It is now up to the State Bank of India to make the right decision and refuse to fund Adani's gamble with the hard earned money of Indian taxpayers.

"We already know that Adani's coal project represents a serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Today's news emphasises that it is an investment blackhole as well."

Adani has struggled to secure project financing for its $16.5 billion coal mine, rail and port expansion. Major global banks, including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, have already refused to fund the project due to its damaging impact on the Great Barrier Reef, currently under consideration by World Heritage Body UNESCO for inclusion on its 'in danger' list.

Banks all over the world are saying no to Adani. Even ANZ's own analysts are saying the project is not viable. Australians can rightly be asking why our own Big Four Australian banks have so far failed to do the right thing by the Reef and ruled out their involvement. No Australian bank should be financing the Reef's destruction," Casule added.

It's not just Indigenous Australians v. Adani over a coal mine. We should all join this fight

Blair Palese


The Wangan and Jagalingou people’s battle with big coal at Carmichael will test both our commitment to native title and our national values

3 April 2015

The Wangan and Jagalingou people’s rejection of the Indigenous land use agreement with Adani for land designated for the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin will put our national values to the test. The decision is simple – a choice between preserving our history, our land and our environment or giving in to the interests of big coal and gas.

Although this is a major test case of Australia’s commitment to the principles set out in the Native Title legislation, it is definitely not the first instance of Indigenous communities fighting against the encroachment of fossil fuels on their culture and territories across the world.

In saying no to Adani, the Wangan and Jagalingou have sewn their fight into the growing global tapestry of first nations people standing up to fossil fuel expansion. Like the Athabasca Chipewyan battling the tar sands of Alberta, the Achuar Indians fighting oil and gas in the Amazon and the Ogoni and Ijaw’s fight against Shell in the Niger Delta, they are going head to head with some of the world’s richest and most destructive companies, to defend their land, their cultures, and in turn the planet as we know it. Essentially, they are taking on a battle which we should all be involved in.

Closer to home, we have seen the Gomeroi people of NSW stand side by side with farmers, celebrities and environmentalists to oppose the controversial Maules Creek mine which would destroy a number of their sacred sites. Similarly, in 2013, the Western Australian Goolarabooloo people fought off plans to build one of the largest gas plants in Australia at James Price Point.

As this resistance movement grows, so too does its legal legitimacy. In 2007, the UN general assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, granting traditional owners legal recourse to contest their land being used without their “free, prior and informed consent” – a right that companies like Adani would rather ignore.

Within days of the Wangan and Jagalingou rejecting Carmichael, Adani mounted a legal challenge to rid themselves of the obligation to secure traditional owner consent to mine their lands. This is a true vindication of the fossil fuel industry’s contempt for playing by the rules, let alone international human rights law.

This fight is deeply personal, deeply place-based yet, at the same time, deeply global. It is about the protection of Indigenous people’s cultural landscapes – lands imbued with values and traditions built up over millennia. But it’s also about the right of companies to plunder the earth for a profit. Their fight is everyone’s fight.

The climate impact of fossil fuel expansion is something I speak of regularly. Fossil fuel companies intend to burn five times more carbon than the planet can safely handle, condemning us all to a miserable future. But whilst we still have some (albeit diminishing) time to fight back the climate impacts, the impacts for traditional owners, upon whose land these extractive agendas are being inflicted, are far more immediate and tangible. No amount of compensation can replace the historic and cultural value of the lands and artefacts destroyed to make way for new coal mines.

In the words of Adrian Burragubba, representative of the Wangan people:

This is the starting point of life. We consider this as our place of where we come from, our dreaming. If this mine proceeds, it will destroy every connection there is with our ancestors and our laws and customs.

Indigenous peoples should not have to fight this alone. It behoves non-Indigenous people everywhere to stand up and fight too – to be the allies that our ancestors weren’t, to recognise that the climate fight is ultimately a fight about justice and that neither can be won by ignoring either.

“I never thought I would see the day that we would come together. Relationships are changing, stereotypes are disappearing, there’s more respect for one another,” said Geraldine Thomas-Flurer of the Yinka Dene Alliance fighting the Northern Gateway Pipeline in British Columbia. This fight for indigenous rights could just be the greatest line of defense we have in the battle for climate justice. This fight is everyone’s fight.

Victory for the climate and environment: French banks pledge not to finance mega coal projects in Australia's Galilee Basin

Friends of the Earth France & Bank Track press release

8 April 2015

Friends of the Earth France and its international partners today welcomed the commitment from the three top French banks – BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale – that they will not participate in the financing of multi-billion dollar coal projects slated for development in the Galilee Basin in Australia (1). The NGOs that have pressured the French banks not to get involved in these highly controversial projects are now calling on the banks to commit by December 2015 to putting an end to their financing of the coal sector completely.

BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale recently disclosed to FoE France that they will neither participate in the financing of the mega coal mining projects located in the Galilee Basin, nor will they finance any associated infrastructure. These commitments go further than those from a further eight international banks that committed last year not to finance the expansion of the Abbot Point coal export port (2) that threatens the Great Barrier Reef.

The climate issue is central to these decisions, campaigners believe. Taken together, the Galilee Basin projects in question are potentially the second biggest area of fossil fuel energy development in the world after China, and if realised would emit annually nearly as much CO2 as Germany, the world's sixth largest CO2 emitting country (3).

Responding to the move from BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale, Lucie Pinson from Friends of the Earth France commented:

“This is the first time that banks are committing to not finance projects in a whole region because of their environmental and climate impacts. The climate fight does not end here though. As welcome as these Galilee Basin commitments are, they are still a long way from reversing the 218% growth in French bank financing of the coal sector between 2005 and 2013. We will continue to put pressure on the banks to quit coal for good.”

According to FoE France, the three top French banks remain deeply involved in coal projects. All three feature in the top 25 financiers of the coal sector internationally, with BNP Paribas and Société Générale the fifth and seventh banks respectively in financing coal mines in Australia (4). Altogether BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale have been responsible for 94% of the 30 billion euros of French financing to the global coal sector in the period 2005 to April 2014 (5).

The French banks' commitments not to finance coal projects in the Galilee Basin were obtained following extensive engagement work carried out by FoE France with the support of more than 50 international NGOs (6).

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator for BankTrack, commented:

“The decision from the French banks is yet more evidence that investments in the coal sector are now extremely risky. The financing of one of the main energy sources responsible for climate change can also severely damage the reputation of big banks, particularly in France which will host the United Nations Conference of the Parties on climate change in December this year. It will now be the turn of Australian banks, particularly the Commonwealth Bank, and Standard Chartered, already involved in Adani's Carmichael project (7), to feel the pressure from international civil society over their refusal so far to pull out of the Galilee coal projects.”

After Société Générale's withdrawal last December from the Alpha Coal project, one of the nine Galilee Basin projects, the commitments from BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale mark a first step toward fossil fuels exit.

Lucie Pinson commented: “But we need to speed ahead. Other coal projects could see the light of day thanks to French banks, but 88% of the world's total coal reserves must stay in the ground if we want to stay under the 2°C threshold. It is imperative that French banks commit this year to ending their financing of the coal sector.” (8)

Friends of the Earth France is calling on the customers of major banks to relay this demand to their banks on a dedicated website: (9).


(1) The official letters from the French banks are available at: 

(2) Eight international banks have already committed not to finance the extension of the Abbot Point port: Deutsche Bank, HSBC, RBS, Barclays, Citi, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. With the exception of Barclays, these commitments concern the Abbot Point port while the commitments from the French banks concern the nine mining projects of the Galilee Basin along with their associated infrastructure – including ports like Abbot Point, railways and potential power plants that would be used to power the mines.

(3) According to the reports “Point of No Return” and “Cooking the climate: Wrecking the Reef” from Greenpeace, available at: and

(4) According to data from the Australian NGO Market Forces on the financing of coal mines since 2008, available on request from Friends of the Earth France. Crédit Agricole is the 16th ranked international bank in terms of financing of the Australian coal mining sector since 2008.

(5) According to data from Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack – see the reports “Charbon: l’argent sale des banques françaises” published by FoE France in October 2014, and the BankTrack report “Banking on Coal 2014" published at the same time, available at: and

(6) After the withdrawal of Société Générale from the Alpha Coal project, Friends of the Earth France called on BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale to commit not to finance any coal project in the Galilee Basin developments. See the press release on the Alpha Coal victory at: – and the letter sent to the three banks by more than 50 NGOs.

(7) According to the Australian Financial Review’s article “Adani’s week of positives in an anti-coal atmosphere”, November 19, 2014, available on this page:

(8) Friends of the Earth France is calling on French banks to commit not to finance coal fired power plants projects in Bangladesh (Rampal project) and Indonesia (Batang project), the Plomin C coal power plant in Croatia and future coal projects in South Africa, including one being promoted by GDF Suez. We are also calling on Crédit Agricole to put an end to its advisory mandate for the Promin C project and for its support to Mountaintop removal mining. See the article “The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C”” published in Nature on 8 January 2015 for the 88% figure:

(9) The website is available at:, a mobilisation website inviting bank customers both to call on their banks to change their practices towards supporting an energy transition based on an exit from fossil fuels, and to switch banks if their own one continues to finance climate damaging projects.

For further inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

For more information, contact:
Caroline Prak, Friends of the Earth France - Les Amis de la Terre - caroline.prak[at] - +33 9 72 43 92 65 - +33 6 86 41 53 43.
Yann Louvel, BankTrack, yann[at], +33 688 907 868

About BankTrack
BankTrack is the global tracking, campaigning and support organisation targeting the operations and investments of international commercial banks.

Les Amis de la Terre
Les Amis de la Terre France is a federation of grassroots local associations campaigning for the environment and for sustainable societies.


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