Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Relief" to Adanis' top Aussie coal mining project: Dredge spoil to be dumped on land, not wetland

Annastacia Palazczuk
By Our Representative
In major relief, the Adani Group, seeking to go in for one of the world’s biggest mining projects in Australia’s Queensland province, has reached an agreement with its new Labour government which has just taken over, allowing it to dump the dredge spoil on land on the site known as T2, adjacent to the existing coal terminal, and not on ecologically sensitive Caley Valley wetlands or within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
A Queensland government communiqué said, an agreement to this effect with the two project proponents, Adanis and GVK, has been “put in place” by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, calling it  “an environmentally sustainable and fiscally responsible proposal for the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal.”
The communiqué quoted Palaszczuk to say that she has always supported “the responsible and sustainable development of the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point”, and the agreement she has reached “demonstrates that”. The Australian environmentalists have still not reacted to the agreement reached between the new government and the Adanis, one of India's biggest business houses, and GVK, a top Indian infrastructure firm.
“Today my government sends a clear message: we can protect the Great Barrier Reef, and we can foster economic development and create jobs”, the Queensland premier said. Through this agreement, the new Labour government hopes to placate powerful environmental lobby led by Greenpeace Australia, which wants the Adani project to be cancelled.
“I am determined to deliver on my election commitments, and that includes no dumping of capital dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, no dumping of dredge material in the nationally-significant Caley Valley wetlands, and no taxpayer funding for capital dredging and the disposal of dredge spoil”, Palaszczuk said.
“The government will not proceed with the current approvals process. We will withdraw the applications and present a new application centred on the T2 site”, she said, adding, “T2 is the only remaining unallocated industrial land at the Port and the only responsible way to proceed with the Abbot Point development to ensure it is ready for future exports from the Galilee Basin.”
Thanking Adanis and GVK for working with the new Queensland government “to come up with a sustainable plan” that would help “protect the Reef, protect the wetlands and create jobs”, State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham clarified, “Unlike the previous government’s project, capital dredging costs will not be funded by taxpayers.”
“We will ensure that approvals costs will be met by Galilee Basin proponents, with capital dredging costs to be paid for by the proponents to the Galilee Basin projects,” Dr Lynham said, adding, “The new project referral under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act would involve a full Environmental Impact Statement process, which also allows for a new round of public consultation.”
“The Port of Abbot Point development is vital to Queensland’s economic future. That’s why we are prioritising this project and are dedicated to ensuring it progresses in a transparent and environmentally responsible manner," he said.

“We will immediately begin work on providing a robust and informed approval referral to the Commonwealth Government and applications to state approval agencies. The Palaszczuk Government is committed to working with local communities and project proponents to deliver good economic and environmental outcomes when it comes to major developments”, he said. 

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