Adani Clears Another Major Hurdle Holding Up Its Queensland Coal Mine
The Queensland government has approved Adani's plan to protect the endangered black-throated finch which lives on land earmarked for the controversial Carmichael coal mine.
Adani has set aside a 33,000 hectare conservation area in the Galilee Basin, which is 25 times the size of the open cut mine area, and insists its plan will ensure the finch population is not wiped out.
“The plan was developed by ecological experts and is backed by the best available science to ensure the finch is protected and that the species can co-exist with mining operations, "Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow said after the announcement.
In a statement, the Department of Environment and Science said that it has asked Adani to ensure additional protections are implemented which include population studies and limited on-site grazing.
"[The Department] is satisfied that Adani will engage appropriately qualified ecologists to undertake the company's survey and monitoring work in relation to the black-throated finch," the statement read.
The state government decision has been slammed by conservation groups.
"With the decision today, Australians now have a front-row seat to the real-time extinction of the endangered Black Throated Finch due to political expediency and a lack of leadership,” said Michael Kane from the Mackay Conservation Group.
“The truth is once Adani bulldozes the tiny finch’s last viable habitat, the birds will literally starve to death in great numbers," he continued.
The plan's approval comes a week after premier Annastacia Palaszczuk demanded an end to the ongoing hold-ups surrounding the coal mine, declaring that the community was "sick of the delays."
Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow also called for deadlines on approvals saying it's time for the mine "to be allowed to proceed, for the Galilee Basin to open, for those jobs to flow so that we as a community can start to build a long-term future," the ABC reported.
But the wait isn't over yet, there is one final outstanding environmental approval, the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan.
The state government's decision on Adani's plan to the monitor and manage groundwater will be announced by June 13. It's the last tick of approval the company needs to begin initial construction and clearing works at the mine site.
The very same plan was approved by former Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price on April 8.
In the weeks after, documents obtained by the ABC suggested the coalition had put pressure on government scientists to rush their decision.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said the documents showed key CSIRO officials had reservations about Adani's groundwater plans.
If the Queensland government approves the mine, work related to the groundwater research will still need to be signed off by new Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley before any coal can be physically dug up.
Two plans pertaining to the Great Artisan Basin will be reviewed. Both will need to address some of the concerns raised by the CSIRO in its assessment of Adani's groundwater management plans.
So while construction on Adani's controversial Carmichael coal mine could begin within a fortnight, there is still some time before coal will be extracted.