The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Geoscience Australia have independently assessed and approved the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project.
Adani Group’s proposed Carmichael Mine would be constructed in the North Galilee Basin, approximately 160 kilometres north-west of Clermont in regional Queensland.
The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan and the Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan detail all the activities that Adani would undertake to ensure that they meet the approval conditions for the mine relating to groundwater. This includes a network of more than 100 monitoring bores to track underground water levels.
Both the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia identified a number of areas of groundwater modelling, monitoring and management that required further work.
The actions, which the company have now fully accepted, included:
- A substantial increase of early warning monitoring between the mine and the Doongmabulla Springs using additional deeper bores and an additional bore site to monitor flows.
- Tightened corrective action triggers requiring an immediate response to any unexpected groundwater impact.
- Commitments to re-run the model addressing all Geoscience Australia and CSIRO concerns within two years of the commencement of coal extraction (noting there are no predicted impacts to nationally protected matters within 15 years).
As a result, the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have confirmed the revised plans meet strict scientific requirements.
Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Melissa Price MP accepted the decision and approved the groundwater management plans under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Minister said the project has been subject to ‘the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia’.
However, environmentalist organisations across the country have scrutinised the decision.
Senior Campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, Christian Slattery said the Minister has ‘has caved in’ and ‘fast-tracked the approval for Adani to suck up billions of litres of precious groundwater’.
The Minister’s decision does not comprise the final approval for this project. The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project still requires further approvals from the Queensland Government prior to construction commencing.
To date, only 16 of 25 environmental plans have been finalised or approved by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. A further 9 still need to be finalised.
If fully approved, the project’s initial ramp-up and construction phase is estimated to create over 1,500 direct jobs for the region. In its first stage, plans indicate that the mine would produce 27.5 million tonnes of coal per annum. Coal would then be transported to Abbot Point Port via a 200-kilometre rail line.