Preliminary work on the massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia will begin soon following the approval of Adani’s plans for ground water management at the site.
The decision by Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science clears the way for Adani to begin work, such as land-clearing and road access development at the mine site that has been in the permitting process for nine years. However, Adani still requires other federal environmental approvals before it can begin extracting coal. Other aspects of the project, such as a royalties agreement, are also yet to be finalized.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Science said the company submitted the most recent version of the plan, addressing department feedback just 24 hours before the approval deadline set by Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk.
The department said the review of the ground water dependent ecosystem management plan (GDEMP) “has been rigorous and based on the best available science” and there had been regular meetings to “ensure the plan is robust and provides the maximum environmental protection”.
“In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia – the same advice considered by the commonwealth government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year.”
The state’s environment minister, Leeanne Enoch, told the Queensland parliament the plan was approved “on the basis of significant commitments and amendments to continue to undertake important monitoring work over the next two years and throughout the life of the mine.”
The Guardian reported that the mine has been opposed by environmental groups and Australia’s Green Party from the onset. The Greens said the Queensland government’s decision was “deeply disappointing to anyone who understands the danger posed by climate change, but the fight to stop this mine being built is far from over."
Adani Mining’s chief executive, Lucas Dow, said the approval brought to a close “a two-year process of rigorous scientific inquiry, review and approvals.”
“Over the coming days preparatory activities such as finalising contracts, mobilising equipment, recruitment and completing inductions will continue,” Dow said.
“These preparatory actions will enable us to then start construction activities including fencing, bridge and road upgrades, water management and civil earthworks on the mine site.”
He said the level of construction activity at the site would steadily increase over the coming weeks. He said the company expect to be shipping its first coal in two years, according to Reuters.
Approval of the ground water plans follows intense pressure on the Queensland government after swings to the LNP in Queensland at the federal election.