Australia’s largest coal mine approval overturned 135



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It’s a win for environmentalists but is it a win for Australia? The proposed Carmichael mega-mine in central Queensland has seen its approvals “set aside” by the Federal Court following action by the Mackay Conservation Group.

The environmental approvals were overturned by the court, which found that environment minister Greg Hunt failed to take into consideration  advice given about two vulnerable species in the area.

The yakka skink and ornamental snake are the two unlikely heroes that have prevented the $16 billion open-cut coal mine, which would be Australia’s largest, from going ahead. For now.

Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham insisted the Federal Court decision was a mere delay and would not kill the massive mine project all together, but he said he was “extremely disappointed” it had happened on the federal government’s watch.

Michael Roche, chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council said that amti-coal activists had exploited “legal loopholes” to delay billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs.

“It is preposterous that a technical administrative hitch could hold up billions of dollars in investment and thousands of desperately needed jobs,” he told the ABC.

The Mackay Conservation Group, which launched its legal challenge in January and was largely funded by public donations, is calling on the environment minister to reject the mine outright. They argue that the mine approvals were rushed because Adani, the Indian mining company that will extract and export the Galilee Basin coal to India, has imposed unrealistic timelines in which to make a proper environmental impact assessment.

The Australian Conservation Foundation says the mine will contribute 130 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year to global warming; take 297 billion litres from underground aquifers, causing a drop in water table levels on which local farmers rely and poses a threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

The ACF also says the mine will destroy 10,000 hectares of endangered Southern Black-throated Finch habitat; does not have the consent of Traditional Owners, the Wangan and Jagalingou people; and that Adani has a terrible track record in India of flouting regulations and destroying environments.

After the landmark ruling, Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said, “A lot of new information has emerged since Greg Hunt made his approval and we call on him to now reject the mine.”

Mr Hunt’s office has issued a statement saying it hopes to resolve the problem within two months.

Do you think the Carmichael mine is doomed? Should they give up and leave the Galilee basin to the skinks and finches? Or does Australia need the cash?

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  1. I heard that on ABC radio just now. To answer your question, no, it shouldn’t go ahead ever. The soon Australia stops destroying itself to dig up coal which is then used to destroy the whole planet the better. We need to find a different future–and should have started planning a different future a decade ago.

    14 REPLY
    • I agree with you Bob, fossil fuel is a dinosaur and Planning for alternative forms of power should have been implemented decades ago. The old saying ‘Dig the well before you need the water’ On a continent as arid as Australia our food bowls and water tables need to be protected.

    • I have this far fetched dream that Australia, with all the sun and space, should get into large scale solar thermal power generation. Once we make more electricity than we need, we can use the rest to extract hydrogen from sea water and sell it to the rest of the world.

      Why hydrogen? Well, to power the fuel cell powered cars that we should be building and exporting once the CSIRO further develop hydrogen fuel cells to make them more economic of course!

    • My thoughts on the matter is self sufficient on power generation,every house be fitted with a solar power roof and generate its own domestic usage.Or natural gas generators, of which we have huge resources off the coast of W.A which is currently processed and shipped overseas. We would still need to produce power commercially, but no where near the requirements are now.

    • The problem is June that the big boys don’t make enough money if you are self sufficient. They don’t think of the environment just how they can make a buck

    • I agree Bob, but the fact is, aside from hydro and nuclear, there is no other abundant power source. Currently we have to use coal, export coal and prosper from coal. What is needed is a global effort to replace coal with an affordable, environmental friendly and readily available energy source.

    • Solar, whether photovoltaic or solar thermal, can be the most abundant power source in the world and Australia sits on the mother lode. Once an initial investment is made, the ongoing costs are incredibly low.

      Similarly, wind is also abundant and free (except for maintenance) once the capital investment is made. Despite what Abbott says, I’d rather look at spinning windmills (on or off shore) than a coal fired plant spewing smoke.

      ANY renewable solution is going to be a mix of technologies though–we need them all and, if there was the vision and investment, are one of the best placed countries in the world to make the move.

      I agree that a global effort is needed to replace coal but, to some extent, that is already happening and Australia is being left behind. Already large coal users like China (and a couple of days ago the USA) have announce plans to reduce their dependence on coal. Tying Australia’s financial future to an export the world wants to do without is silliness in the extreme.

    • You can’t have a modern industrial society without base load power.
      Base Load Power is only possible using Coal, Gas, Nuclear or Hydro.
      Any intermittent power source requires 24 / 7 back up from reliable power sources.
      Any battery backup system for intermittent power results in a
      Negative Return on Energy Invested.
      Get over it.

    • That…plus some wind and wave power…plus some gas (or nuclear) as an extreme backup. But no more coal.

  2. Yes leave it in the ground, may be on me day the boffins will work out how to use it cleanly.

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