MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia: Adani wants opposition to its coal mine to be over by law

Published by MAC on 2015-12-07
Source: Statement, Mining.com, ABC, Guardian (2015-12-08)

Adani wants opposition to its coal mine in Australia to be over by law

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

7 December 2015

Adani's Carmichael project has been the focus of opposition by organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects in the environmentally sensitive area.

Fed-up with relentless opposition to its $15bn (A$16.5bn) Carmichael Coal mine and rail project in Australia, Indian mining giant Adani is asking authorities to stop entertaining objections to the mine.

The move comes as the approval of the project, already 18 months behind schedule because of green groups concerns, is facing a new legal challenge in a federal court, filed last month by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

What the group wants, The Economic Times reports, is a special law banning activists from seeking judicial review of environmental approvals already granted by the Australian authorities.

“You cannot continuously challenge the project," chairman Gautam Adani was quoted as saying, adding that the company needs an indisputable and final go-ahead for the project, considered Australia’s largest thermal coal project ever.

Designed to eventually produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year, Carmichael has been the focus of opposition by organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects in the area. They argue the project would damage the nearby Great Barrier Reef.

The proposed mine and railway, however, has been reviewed several times ever since the first concerns emerged.

An earlier plan to dump 3 million cubic metres of soil dredged at Abbot Point into the sea about 25 km (15 miles) from the Great Barrier Reef was rejected. Since then, the company has signed up buyers for about 70% of the 40 million tonnes coal the Carmichael project is due to produce in its first phase, with production expected to begin in late 2017.

According to official estimations Carmichael will contribute $2.97bn each year to Queensland’s economy and has the potential to create 6,400 new jobs: around 2,500 construction positions and 3,900 operational posts.

Based on those projections, Adani argues that the project is “very important” for both India and Australia. “It’s the world’s largest coal reserve and it will provide electricity to a minimum 100 million people for 100 years,” Gautam Adani said.


Queensland Government Plans To Extinguish Native Title For Adani’s Coal Mine A New Low In Violating Traditional Owners’ Rights

Media Release

27 November 2015

‘Not here, not now, not this time’ say Traditional Owners

Adrian Burragubba, senior spokesperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council, has strongly condemned plans by Queensland’s Coordinator General Barry Broe, under the imprimatur of Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham, to extinguish native title on parts of the W&J’s traditional lands in the Galilee Basin in order to enable Indian giant Adani to develop infrastructure for its $16.5bn Carmichael coal mine, the biggest in Australian history.

The plans were revealed in documents obtained by the ABC.

Mr Burragubba said, “It is beyond comprehension that the Government would consider such a shameful and absurd proposal in an era when our rights are sanctioned under international law; and when we are already in the Federal Court contesting the State Government and Adani’s attempts to override our rights.”

“Premier Palaszczuk needs to rule out this outrageous proposal immediately”, Mr Burragubba said. “I assure the Premier she will be bringing on one of the biggest human rights battles we’ve seen in Queensland in a long time. If destroying our rights and handing our lands to a foreign mining company is on her agenda, she better think again.”

Mr Burragubba vowed to fight any proposal to extinguish native title on the W&J people’s land by force. “This proposal won’t stand,” he said. “Not here, not now, not this time. We will fight this all the way to the High Court if need be”.

“We do not consent to Carmichael mine, and we never will. We have twice rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani. This week, we took on Adani and the Queensland Government in the Federal Court, and our case resumes in February.

“It would be pre-empting the outcome of those proceedings for the Government to attempt to compulsorily acquire our native title. The Government should face up to the justice system and argue its case properly; and not resort to a forcible takeover of our lands so they can be destroyed by a coal mining company.

“It would be a shocking precedent for a government in Australia to extinguish title over land against the express opposition of traditional owners, and to hand that land to a private business interest – in this case a massive foreign miner with a disgraceful record of destroying environments and disrupting traditional communities overseas.

“These revelations that our rights in land could be stolen away from us by Minister Lynham and the Queensland Government are an ugly new low in violating the rights of Indigenous peoples of this country.

“The Government must also clarify the information in the Coordinator General’s document that we did not object to compulsory acquisition. Our rejection of the ILUA and the Federal Court challenge are our clear, unambiguous and final signal to Adani and its backers in the Queensland government, like Mines Minister Lynham, that we vehemently object to the taking of our land and the destruction of our culture and heritage without our consent.

“Adani’s disastrous mega-mine threatens to devastate my people’s lands and waters. It will annihilate the ancient, spiritual connection to Country that makes us who we are. Its scale and impacts mean our Country would literally disappear.

“We will fight this mine until we secure our rights to self-determination in and on our land. We will pursue our rights through the Courts. And we will continue the work we are doing through United Nations to stop this mine and assert our rights.

“My people’s future is in self-determination without dependency on mining. Let us be clear again: when we refuse our consent, No Means No.”

Contacts:

For further comment – Adrian Burragubba – 0428 949 115

For background – Anthony Esposito – 0418 152 743


Traditional owners appeal against native title process for Adani's Carmichael mine

ABC News

23 November 2015

Traditional owners have said mining giant Adani misled the National Native Title Tribunal and are challenging its decision to allow the Carmichael mine to go ahead without their consent.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners' Council in October 2014 rejected an Indigenous land use agreement with Adani, fearing the mine would destroy their ancestral lands and cultural heritage.

The Indian miner then applied to the Tribunal to override their objection, and in April it decided the mine was in the public interest, partly due to the amount of jobs it would create.

Spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said Adani dishonestly and knowingly relied on inaccurate information on the economic and employment benefits of their project.

"Adani justified its mine in the Native Title Tribunal with false claims that it will create 7,000 jobs and generate huge economic benefits," Mr Burragubba said.

"We say today that these claims mislead the Tribunal and amount to fraud."
'Choosing one expert over another was relevantly misleading'

David Yarrow, a lawyer for Mr Burragubba, told the court that Adani had failed to provide the Native Title Tribunal with certain material concerning the economic impact of the coal mine.

"The failure of [Adani] to provide additional material distorted the decision-making process of the Native Title Tribunal such that that decision is liable to be set aside," Mr Yarrow said.

Mr Yarrow told the hearing a number of experts had provided reports in separate land court proceedings relating to the proposed mine's Environmental Impact Statement, but that Adani had not submitted them all to the Native Title Tribunal.

"Choosing one expert over another was relevantly misleading," Mr Yarrow said.

Craig Leggat SC, another lawyer acting for Mr Burragubba, argued Adani's assertion that the mine would generate 4,000 jobs and $4 billion was "likely to have been significantly over-estimated".

Mr Leggat said Adani had withheld an expert report by Dr Jerome Fahrer.

"He is a high calibre author — this bloke is a heavy hitter," Mr Leggat told the court.

Mr Leggat said Dr Fahrer had estimated 400 operational jobs would be created, not 4,000.

"That's a 1,000 per cent difference," Mr Leggat said.

An Adani spokesperson said they would not comment on the ongoing legal process.
Test case for Native Title regime

A judicial review is being held in the Federal Court today and Mr Burragubba said he would take the case to the High Court if necessary, adding they would never consent.

Mr Burragubba said the case would challenge the Native Title regime in Australia, which failed to protect traditional owners' right to withhold consent.

He said Adani's mining lease would extinguish native title over parts of their lands.

"We have told them to take their millions of dollars of shut up money and go home," he said.

"We will oppose the mine to our last breath."

The mine has faced a number of challenges, including a separate Federal Court action underway by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The $16 billion project will cover more than 200 square kilometres, making it one of the world's biggest black coal mines.


Traditional land owner tells court Adani misled tribunal over mine's benefits

Joshua Robertson

The Guardian (UK)

23 November 2015

Adrian Burragubba has asked the federal court to quash a decision by the native title tribunal that Adani’s Carmichael mine should go ahead over the objections of the Wangan and Jagalingou people because it was in the public interest.

Burragubba’s barrister, David Yarrow, told a court hearing in Brisbane on Monday that the tribunal’s decision was invalid because it had been misled by Adani as to the economic benefits of the mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin.

Yarrow said testimony by the company’s own expert in a separate land court case challenging the mine, including its likely creation of 1,200 jobs, differed significantly from the case Adani put to the tribunal, which referred to 7,000 jobs.

He said Adani was obliged to produce information to the tribunal that was not misleading, but that the company “by choosing one expert over another, where there is a material difference between those expert reports, was relevantly misleading”.

“It’s the failure or the selectivity of [Adani] that the applicant points to, resulting in the tribunal being misled, its process being distorted and therefore the decision vitiated,” Yarrow said.

Burragubba, who claims the support of nine of 12 families from the Wangan and Jagalingou clan, was one of three applicants from the group who was party to the native title tribunal hearings, but the only one to oppose the mine.

The tribunal hearing cleared the way for the Queensland government to issue a mining lease to Adani that would extinguish native title over the mine sites.

Yarrow said the tribunal’s decision was also made invalid by its failure to investigate whether the Wangan and Jagalingou required a majority or a unanimous agreement to authorise a decision.

“If this was a unanimous applicant, clearly the applicant was deadlocked as to how to conduct the proceeding,” he told the court.

Yarrow said “the views of the group at large are relevant” and that for the tribunal to consider the views of the individual representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou alone was “too narrow”.

Burragubba, who crowd-sourced funding for his legal action but is being represented pro bono by barristers, told reporters outside the hearing that his legal action was “sending a message now to state and federal governments that they must put a halt to this Adani mine”.

“We said no back in 2012 and we also said no to a land-use agreement in 2014,” he said.

“The message is still clear, that we will not allow our rights to be overridden and when we say no, we mean no to this mine. It will destroy our homelands, it will displace our people, permanently and definitely from our lands, it will destroy our cultural heritage and decimate the land beyond repair.”

The hearing continues before federal court justice John Reeves.

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