Indian mining giant Adani’s plan to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia cleared another legal hurdle today after a top court dismissed an environmental group’s plea for overturning the government’s approval to the controversy-hit 21.7 billion dollar project.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) had argued in the Federal Court that the former environment minister Greg Hunt failed to consider if the impact of burning coal and climate pollution was in line with global obligations to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Welcoming the decision, the Adani company said the ruling had once again reinforced the stringency of the strict, science and evidence-based federal environmental approval process governing its planned mine at Carmichael in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
“Over six years, there have been multiple approval processes, some two years of cumulative community consultation and submissions as part of those processes, and over ten appeals and judicial processes brought on by activists,” Adani said, adding that, “there can be no question that there has been more than ample opportunity for consultation, input and appeal and for activists to have their say”.
Clearly, the time has come for the will of communities who are crying out for these projects to proceed to have their voices heard not just those of activists from out of town, it said.
Adani said it maintains its stance to deliver on its long term future with Queensland, pending the resolution of a small number of outstanding legal challenges.
“As the company has previously indicated, if those issues are finalised, construction can commence in 2017,” it said.
Reacting to the decision, ACF said it will not give up its efforts to stop Adani’s project despite the court dismissing its challenge to the federal government’s approval.
“Most Australians would be shocked that the government can legally approve the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history, when this year the Great Barrier Reef has suffered the worst coral bleaching on record -- a direct result of global warming,” ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said.
“If the Carmichael mine proceeds its coal will create 4.7 billion tonnes of climate pollution over the proposed life of the mine, wiping out Australia’s efforts to reduce pollution and contributing to more frequent and severe bleaching events on the reef,” O’Shanassy said.
“It is extraordinary that in 2016 a Federal Environment Minister can argue in court that a mega-polluting coal mine will have no impact on the climate and the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.
Adani’s project has been hampered time and again since its launch six years ago.
A federal court in August last year had revoked the original approval due to environmental concerns. In October last year, the project got a new lease of life after the Australian government gave its re-approval.