Australia: Adani's Carmichael mine clears another hurdlePublished by MAC on 2016-04-03
Source: Mining.com, Sydney Morning Herald, AAP
Despite the objections of Aboriginal traditional owners and environmentalists, the Queensland government has approved mining leases for Adani's controversial Carmichael coal mine.
However, the company still faces a number of legal challenges.
Previous article on MAC: Australia: Traditional Owners reject Adani Carmichael mine for a third time
Protesters condemn Adani coal mine approval ’betrayal’
Indian miner Adani is one step closer to receiving approval for a massive Queensland coal mine, but opponents of the mine are still determined to put a stop to the project.
By Stefan Armbruster
4 April 2016
Protestors have condemned the Queensland government's approval of licences for the massive $22 billion Adani coal mine as “environmental vandalism”.
The financial analysts have also expressed doubts about the project’s current viability.
Licences granted on Sunday are a victory for the Indian miner Adani after years of delays, but several legal hurdles are still in the way.
About 200 people protested outside Queensland parliament against the decision on Monday morning chanting, “Coral not coal”.
Queensland's mines minister has defended his decision to grant mining leases for the Adani coal project, saying its benefits outweigh the challenges.
“This insanity, this environmental destruction on an unprecedented scale, this mass extinction, this economic stupidity,” said Greens Queensland senate candidate Andrew Bartlett.
“This must stop, it must not go ahead, not just for Queensland and the reef but for the planet and the future.”
Approval for the coal mine in central Queensland coincides with extensive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef blamed on climate change.
“The Great Barrier Reef Authority has put it at a level three threat," Millie Anthony from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said.
"That's a serious concern for my generation and future generations to come.
“Australians and Queenslanders want a healthy Great Barrier Reef and the Palaszczuk [Queensland] government was voted in on a mandate to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
"By signing off on a 99-year mining license they’ve done the exact opposite.”
There is a feeling of betrayal too in Australia’s neighbours in the Pacific - who are threatened with innundation from rising sea levels and unprecedented natural disasters - after promises at the Paris COP21 climate talks last year to limit global temperature rises.
The Greens party has criticised the federal government for claiming there is a strong moral case for approving the $16.5 billion Queensland mine project by Indian company, Adani.
“This mine means that Pacific islands will be submerged with the amount of carbon emissions produced from it,” 350 Pacific's Lisa Jameson said.
“Islands like Tokelau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia will be extremely impacted.
“This is a huge betrayal. We look at Australia as a big brother looking out for our best interests and they haven’t.”
The Queensland government says construction of the Adani's mine could begin as early as next year, generating about 5000 jobs, injecting billions into the economy over its life span.
The government said the reef would be protected but there are several hurdles still in the way.
Adani has already invested more than $1 billion into the project but needs more financing.
Some major banks have pulled out and the coal price is at 10-year low.
“The life of the mine would be over about 90 years, so over the course of time we would see perhaps the price of thermal coal rise beyond the current level of US$54 a tonne to a point where it would become profitable for the mine to proceed,” Fat Prophets' David Lennox said.
“Of course when that time comes, Adani would like to have the mine in operation rather than just commencing construction.
“Overall we think the company will find financing but it will take a bit of work.”
Opponents hope a legal challenge by the Australian Conservation Foundation and a native title case will stop the mine first.
Adani and Carmichael: what the traditional Aboriginal owners of this land say
4 April 2016
Adrian Burragubba, representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners of land where on Sunday the Queensland government approved mining leases for Adani to build the Carmichael coal mine on Monday issued a promise to fight the mine all the way to the High Court and under international law if necessary.
A media statement issued by Mr Burragubba said:
The Queensland government just betrayed us.
Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham wrote a letter to us in October, promising he would await the outcome of our Federal Court action against the Carmichael mine before considering issuing Adani with the mining leases. But today the premier and the minister double-crossed us.
Adani doesn’t have our free, prior and informed consent to build their Carmichael coal mine on our land, and they never will.
The Queensland government just rode roughshod over our rights and granted the mining leases anyway. They have given Adani the green light to ignore our opposition and to tear the heart out of our country. To destroy our rivers and drain billions of litres of groundwater. To leave a black hole of monumental proportions in our homelands.
We feared the Government would do this – and they did. And we need your help to fight it. Today’s approval changes everything. But we can and will fight on. Can you donate now so we can fight against Adani’s mining lease in court?
This is far from over. Our incredible supporters have already helped us take a fight against the mine to the Federal Court. The case is still underway as we speak.
But once again this government thinks it can trample all over our rights without consequences. Once again this government pays lip service to our rights, but they never stand up for them when mining and money become involved. This is a lie and it’s a betrayal, clear and simple.
Two weeks ago, our claim group met en masse and voted down an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani. It was the third and final time. We said it again, we said it loud and we said it clear: we do not consent to this mine and we never will.
The minister has trashed our rights and pushed the leases out the door in one of the worst acts of bad faith towards Queensland’s Indigenous people in living memory.
This fight will define our people and be a landmark moment for Indigenous rights in Australia. Can you help us fight for our rights and our country in court?
Adani and the Queensland government think they can walk all over us but they’ve never seen anything like this. Our lands and our way of life, and the legacy of our ancestors, mean too much to our people for us to roll over.
Our resolve is doubled. Minister Lynham can issue all the bits of paper he likes, hide behind false claims of jobs and benefits, and pander to big coal for an unviable project.
But our people’s rights are not expendable. This act of infamy will be challenged all the way to the High Court if necessary, and we will continue to pursue our rights under international law.
The Minister may think this is the end of the matter, but for us it is just another chapter in the long struggle we have to get proper respect and protection for our rights under law, and ensure our sacred homelands are preserved for time immemorial.
We won’t stop until our rights are upheld and our land is protected.
Adrian Burragubba, on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners.
Queensland approves Australia's largest coal mine
But the $17-billion Carmichael project could have trouble raising the financing
3 April 2016
Against howls of protest from opponents, the Queensland government has approved mining leases for Adani Group's Carmichael coal mine. But the US$17 billion coal, rail and port project still faces significant obstacles in obtaining financing.
The state on Sunday approved three leases covering an area containing 11 billion tonnes of coal, in Queensland's Galilee Basin.
The go-ahead follows compensation deals achieved in March with Australian landowners, reached after almost six years of environmental assessments and legal battles.
“This is a major step forward,” Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement. “Some approvals are still required before construction can start, and ultimately committing to the project will be a decision for Adani.”
The Carmichael project has faced relentless opposition from organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects, which has scared banks from lending to the project. In October, the company got a big relief when the Australian government re-issued the environment approval for the project under what environment minister Greg Hunt called “the strictest conditions in Australian history."
"The state on Sunday approved three leases covering an area containing 11 billion tonnes of coal, in Queensland's Galilee Basin."
First proposed in 2010, the massive coal project —set to produce about 60 million tons of coal a year mainly for export— has been reviewed several times in response to concerns highlighted by authorities and stakeholders.
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 2017.
However it likely won't be clear sailing for Adani between now and then. The company is fighting legal battles against two environmental groups opposed to the project, and at least one analyst quoted by The Financial Times says financing will be difficult to obtain. Tim Buckley, from the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the FT that with China banning new coal-fired power plants in 15 provinces and shutting down 1,000 million tonnes per annum of surplus coal capacity, "proposals like Carmichael are stranded assets and entirely unneeded and unbankable."
The depressed, oversupplied global coal market is also no selling point. Several large lenders including Deutsche Bank and HSBC have refused to back the project, the publication notes.
Qld govt 'morally bankrupt' on Adani mine
3 April 2016
Conservationists and traditional owners have been floored by Queensland's decision to grant mining leases for Adani's mega-coal mine while two court challenges are unresolved.
The Queensland government has cleared the last major state hurdle for the Indian miner to proceed with its $22 billion mine - which would be Australia's largest - rail and port project in the Galilee basin and at Abbot Point.
But even Adani says it won't make a final investment decision on the project until legal challenges by "politically motivated activists" are concluded, and it has the last approvals it needs.
Two groups fighting the mine in separate court battles have accused the state government of a morally bankrupt backflip that endangers the Great Barrier Reef and trashes indigenous rights.
The Australian Conservation Foundation and The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners both say Mines Minister Anthony Lynham gave assurances that no leases would be issued until their court challenges were resolved.
As recently as February, Dr Lynham said he wanted to "give certainty to Adani" and added: "Granting a mining lease in the presence of two JRs (judicial reviews), does not provide the certainty."
The ACF questioned whether Adani or the coal lobby had pressured Dr Lynham to abandon his concerns about the courts possibly ruling against the project.
"Has he been pressured to go against his better judgment by Adani? It's strange," ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy told AAP.
The W&J people have gone to the Federal Court seeking a judicial review of a decision by the National Native Title Tribunal to issue leases associated with the mine.
"This is a disgraceful new low in the exercise of government power at the expense of traditional owners' rights. Minister Lynham and Premier Palaszczuk should hang their heads in shame. History will condemn them," community spokesman Adrian Burragubba said.
The ACF case is set down for a Federal Court hearing in early May, while the traditional owners are still awaiting a ruling by Federal Court Justice John Reeves, who reserved his decision after a hearing in February.
Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane praised Mr Lynham for staring down the activists' "extraordinary campaign" to stop the Galilee Basin being opened up for coal mining.
In announcing the leases alongside the premier in Mackay, Dr Lynham said he'd carefully weighed up the challenges and benefits of the Carmichael project, and the benefits had won.
He said 200 strict environmental conditions would safeguard the environment, while ensuring a project that would generate thousands of jobs could proceed.
"We would encourage Adani to start (construction) as soon as possible, but that is a matter for Adani," he told reporters.
The three leases issued for the mine site northwest of Clermont cover an area estimated to contain 11 billion tonnes of thermal coal.
The premier said the project would generate more than 5000 jobs at the peak of construction and more than 4500 jobs at the peak of operations.
"Up in Cairns, there's jobs on the reef. Out here, there's a big project which is going to generate jobs and the two can coexist," Ms Palaszczuk said.
Green groups have roundly condemned the decision, saying the mine will fuel global warming and compound threats to the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, amid one of its worst coral bleaching events on record.
"Protecting the reef and approving the Carmichael mining lease are diametrically opposed. You cannot do both," Greenpeace reef campaigner Shani Tager said.
Was minister pressured by Adani? - ACF
3 April 2016
The Australian Conservation Foundation has questioned whether Indian mining company Adani pressured Queensland's mines minister to grant approvals for its mega-coal mine in the Galilee basin.
The Queensland government is on Sunday expected to announce it has granted mining leases for Adani's $16.5 billion Carmichael mine, which will be the largest in Australia.
ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy says the project poses an enormous threat to the Great Barrier Reef, amid one of its worst coral bleaching events on record.
She questioned whether Adani had pressured Mines Minister Anthony Lynham to abandon his concerns about granting approvals before court challenges have concluded.
ACF is challenging federal approvals for the mine in the Federal Court, with a hearing set down for early May. Traditional owners have also launched a separate case.
"He said in February that he was reluctant to issue mining licences while there were outstanding legal cases," Ms O'Shanassy told AAP on Sunday.
"It really does make us wonder why he said one thing in February and is about to do another thing. Has he been pressured to go against his better judgment by Adani? It's strange."
AAP has sought comment from Adani and Mr Lynham's office.
Ms O'Shanassy said the government was choosing coal over coral.
"The bleaching of the reef is because of global warming, and global warming is driven primarily through the burning of coal and we're going to burn more of it," she said.
"They are choosing the Carmichael mine over the Great Barrier Reef and the wishes and the demands of the big polluters over the people of Australia who love the reef."
"The Queensland government is jeopardising the future of this state for a fistful of royalties that may never eventuate and once again capitulating to their mates in the mining industry," GetUp! campaigner Ellen Roberts said in a statement.
Reef expert Professor Terry Hughes, the convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, last week said aerial surveys showed the northern Great Barrier Reef was seeing its worst bleaching event on record.
He said that of 520 reefs surveyed between Cairns and Papua New Guinea, just four appeared to be unaffected, and said the northern stretches of the reef had been "fried".
He accused the federal government of failing to link its decisions - including scrapping a price on carbon and support for coal mining - to reef health.
The climate action lobby group 350 Australia is planning a protest outside Queensland's parliament on Monday.
"As global temperatures hit terrifying levels and the reef turns a deathly white, the absurdity of Annastacia Palaszczuk's government approving this monstrous coal project cannot be understated," campaigner Moira Williams said in a statement.
Environmental groups slam Adani approvals as resources sector celebrates
3 April 2016
The finance minister of the world's biggest democracy says activist-driven delays to Queensland coal projects such as Adani's $16 billion Carmichael coal project aren't just an Australian phenomenon.
Environmental groups have slammed the Palaszczuk government over its approval of leases for Adani's Carmichael coal mine, labelling the timing as "indefensible" given the Great Barrier Reef's recent coral bleaching.
But Queensland's peak resources body hailed the approvals as an "important step forward" in securing thousands of jobs in a sector that had been hit hard by recent declines.
Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham announced the approval of three mining leases in the Galilee Basin on Sunday, with the company hopeful it could start construction of the $21.7 billion mine next year.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific reef campaigner Shani Tager said there was "no question" the Great Barrier Reef was suffering and the Carmichael mine would only exacerbate the damage.
"Coral scientists, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and even the Queensland government have acknowledged the severity of this latest bleaching," she said.
"The federal and Queensland environment ministers are wringing their hands, despairing over the state of the Great Barrier Reef, yet at the same time they are paving the way for the nation's biggest coal mine – a development that can only harm the reef.
"Protecting the reef and approving the Carmichael mining lease are diametrically opposed. You cannot do both."
Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy said it was a "grossly irresponsible" decision on the part of the Queensland government.
"By granting a licence for this massive coal mine the Palaszczuk government is bowing to the demands of big polluters, not listening to the needs of the people," she said.
"In February, the Queensland mines minister Anthony Lynham said he was reluctant to issue a mining licence to Adani while court cases challenging the mine approval were still to be heard.
"It makes you wonder whether the powerful coal lobby has leaned on the Queensland mines minister to issue Adani's mining licence against his better judgement."
Queensland Conservation Council climate campaigner Kirsten Macey said the environment had lost out to the influence of "big coal".
"The Queensland government is giving up on the tourism industry, on traditional owners and their rights and regional communities in this decision," she said.
"We know this foreign owned mining company is coming in to make profit at the expense of Queensland's environment."
But the approvals were a source of celebration for Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane, who said it was long overdue given the project had been seeking government approvals for nearly 5½ years.
"I congratulate Dr Lynham on his approval of the mining lease, which is another important step towards the thousands of jobs that will be on offer for the construction of Adani's Carmichael Coal Mine and associated rail and port projects," he said.
"The news couldn't come at a better time as nearly 22,000 jobs have been lost from the resources sector in Queensland over the past two years."
Mr Lane said the approval of the first mining lease in the Galilee Basin represented an historic milestone for Queensland.
"The late iconic Australian miner, Lang Hancock, was one of the first to see the basin's potential, however, I'm sure that even he didn't think his vision would take nearly four decades to materialise," he said.
"The hold-ups over the decades were largely due to a lack of infrastructure to transport the basin's product to an east coast port, but more recently a new threat emerged in the form of green activists.
"Thankfully Dr Lynham has stared down the activists' extraordinary campaign to block the opening up of the Galilee Basin and he has performed his responsibility of granting the Basin's first ever mining lease."