Wednesday, August 05, 2015

"Setback" to Adani Group's Australian coalmining project, as federal court calls government approval "invalid"

Abbot Point coal export terminal to be used by Adanis for the project 
By Our Representative
In what is being interpreted as a major embarrassment to the powerful Adani Group, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Mackay Conservation Group has won the case against India’s giant corporate house’s Carmichael coal mining project in Galilee Basin in the Federal Court of Australia.
The court called the “approval” granted to the one of the world’s biggest coalmining projects by Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt “invalid” citing environmental grounds.
The case, launched by Mackay in January 2015, challenged Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of Carmichael on three grounds: that the minister “incorrectly” assessed its climate impacts, “ignored” Adanis’ poor environmental record, and “failed” to consider conservation advice from his own department on the impact of the mine on two vulnerable species -- yakka skink and ornamental snake.
“Minister Hunt conceded to the Court that he failed in his duty to properly assess the Carmichael mine project in accordance with his obligations under Federal environmental legislation”, Mackay stated in press release, adding, the Court set aside the Carmichael mine’s federal approval on the basis of the “failure” by the Minister to have regard to conservation advices for the “two Commonwealth-listed vulnerable species.”
Calling it a “technical error” on the part of the Australian environmental authorities, the Adani Group has reacted, “It should be noted the approval did include appropriate conditions to manage the species protection of the yakka skink and ornamental snake.”
It said, the “technical legal error” was on the part of Australia’s Federal Environment Department, which led to an adverse the court decision. “We have been advised that, because certain documents were not presented by the Department in finalising the approval, it created a technical legal vulnerability that is better to address now”, it added.
A coal train in Queensland province, where the project is located
“Adani will await the Minister and his department’s timely reconsideration of its approval application under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act”, it said, expressing “confidence” that the conditions imposed on the existing approval “are robust and appropriate once the technicality is addressed.”
The Adani Group is in the fifth year of the project, and is seeking to finalize all approvals in order to meet timelines, which it says are “critical”, so that the “community can realise the benefits associated with its investments to date including 10,000 jobs and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested back into the community.”
Mackay, on the other hand, believed that the corporate house’s Carmichael mine “would have ripped up precious habitat for threatened species and sucked billions of litres of precious ground water every year”, adding, “The burning of the coal from the mine would have driven global warming at a time when science tells us coal reserves must be left in the ground.”
It claimed, “Adanis’ job and royalties figures for the Carmichael project are fabrications. Global financial markets are backing away from new investments in coal and the Queensland Treasury has assessed the project as unbankable.”

Asking "Minister Hunt to see sense”, and “honour” his obligations, Mackay said, based on the Federal Court’s decision, he should “take the opportunity to reject this disastrous project once and for all.” 

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