Experts respond to Adani coal mine approval

  Last updated May 20, 2019 at 11:27 am

Topics:  

The Adani coal mine in Queensland is one step closer with Federal Government approval for the mine’s groundwater management plans.


Adani coal mine Carmichael Queensland

The Adani Carmichael coal mine site in Queensland. Credit: Twitter: @mattjcan


The Federal Government has given its final approval for construction of the Adani coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.


Environment Minister Melissa Price has given the green light to the project’s groundwater management plans following revisions made in response to CSIRO and Geoscience Australia reports provided to the Minister in February 2019.


Those reports highlighted shortcomings in the groundwater management plan including groundwater drawdown and monitoring. It pointed out that management approaches put in place by the multinational energy and infrastructure company “are not sufficiently robust to ensure the outcomes sought by the conditions of approval are met”.


The report also stated that the model submitted by Adani “under-predicts groundwater drawdown arising from mine development”.


In a Senate estimates hearing last week, a Department of Environment official stated that Adani submitted revised plans on 15 March but had not been forwarded to either the CSIRO or Geoscience Australia for analysis. Review of the changes was instead done internally by the Department, with CSIRO and Geoscience Australia receiving a briefing from government officials.


In response to that briefing, in new advice provided to the Minister on Friday, Geoscience Australia said their previous concerns had been addressed in the revisions, while the CSIRO highlighted that some areas still required improvement. Experts say that the assessment of those revisions occurred behind closed doors and away from scrutiny.


The project still requires nine more approvals to be granted from the Queensland and Commonwealth governments before mining can commence. In particular, the Queensland Government is yet to give approval for a management plan for a colony of black-throated finches around the mine site.


In addition, the mine faces a Federal Court appeal raised by the Traditional Owners.


Australian experts have reacted to the newest approvals.


Associate Professor Matthew Currell, School of Engineering at RMIT


“The Adani mine will potentially result in significant impacts on groundwater-dependent ecosystems in central Queensland, including the nationally protected Doongmabulla Springs Complex. Possible impacts include drying up of spring wetlands and reduced flows of groundwater to spring vents and pools, which could lead to irreversible ecological and cultural damage.


The management plan prepared by Adani to monitor and protect against such impacts in late 2018 was hampered by data gaps and scientific uncertainties, which resulted in the identification of serious short-comings in the plan’s assessment and management approach.


While the Environment Minister indicated that advice from the CSIRO suggests these problems have been addressed, the assessment process has been conducted behind closed doors, without opportunity for the public, communities and non-government scientists to independently critique and scrutinise the most recent version of the plan. Given the extraordinary ecological significance of the springs, the potential for irreversible impacts, and the scientific debate on this issue over the past five years, the mining company and minister must make public all of the relevant documentation and justification for the decision, and allow the independent community an opportunity to carefully examine the plan prior to further assessment by the Queensland government.”


Declared interest: Matthew independently reviewed Adani’s groundwater plan late last year, and published an analysis of the major issues in the Journal of Hydrology.


Dr April Reside, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland


“As it stands, Adani’s Black-throated Finch (BTF) Management Plan provides inadequate measures to manage for BTF. The major issues include:



  • The plan has an over-reliance on setting aside BTF areas and increasing the habitat value of those areas as a conservation measure for BTF [known as offsets]. However, there is no obligation to prove habitat value has improved. The current work on offsets has shown that offsets have not provided habitat for BTF (Melton 2017). No loss or degradation of BTF should occur before it can be proven that offsets can be established where habitat value for BTF is enhanced.

  • The management plan for BTF reads like a management plan for cows. Every effort should focus on conservation and retention of BTF. Grazing is the greatest threat to BTF habitat after land clearing, so should only be used where a management objective cannot be achieved through other means, and there is established science to show that grazing can increase the habitat value for BTF. Grazing has been shown to reduce habitat value for BTF, through degradation of the soil and ground cover and introduction of weeds. In particular, additional artificial water points should not be added in areas where there is grazing. Adding in additional water points to an area of BTF habitat where there is grazing is likely to be highly detrimental to the habitat value of an area.

  • The plan states that: ‘Adani will complete annual BTF habitat vegetation assessments at approved monitoring locations during May to maintain and where possible enhance BTF habitat’ [pg 63]


Annual assessments are not sufficiently frequent to detect changes in ground cover that could severely impact the BTF. Particularly in dry conditions, land degradation could happen more quickly. Vegetation assessments should be done four times-a-year.”


Declared interest: April is a member of the BTF Recovery team.


Professor Kristen Lyons, School of Social Sciences at the University of Queensland


“The Federal Government has provided another approval for the highly contentious proposed Adani Carmichael mine, this time granting approval for Adani’s groundwater plan. But this does not signal a green light for Adani. It still faces further approvals challenges from the Queensland State Government. Most importantly, it faces a pending Federal Court appeal by Traditional Owners Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council against the highly controversial Indigenous Land Use Agreement. 


In short, after close to a decade of trying, Adani has failed to achieve policy or legal approvals. Nor has it secured a social license to operate, with most Australians opposed to the proposed mine, and growing demands for strong action  – including energy transition away from fossil fuels – in response to the challenge of climate change.”


Professor Will Rifkin, Director & Chair in Applied Regional Economics of the Hunter Research Foundation Centre, and Faculty of Business and Law at The University of Newcastle


“The government’s go-ahead for the Adani coal mine illustrates the ‘new normal’.  Decisions about major energy investments will continue to be highly contested.  Economic benefits will be weighed against environmental costs at the local and global levels.  That can cause decisions to be delayed or made incrementally as there is no simple and clear ‘answer’.


What decisions symbolise will become increasingly important.  Decisions will speak to Australian voters, overseas investors and trading partners, with different messages to each one.


What is still missing is a strong sense of what the near-term alternatives are.  How many cars or refrigerators would we need to forego buying – or ask the Indian middle class not to buy – to make the Adani mine or its alternative unnecessary?  Where else would the supply of coal come from, and how well regulated would that setting be?”


Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University, former President of the Australian Conservation Foundation


“It is not clear what scientific advice informed the decision by the Coalition government to approve the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine. What we do know is that at least one Coalition politician made a public threat to persuade the Minister to approve the mine before the government goes into caretaker mode. With all the opinion polls predicting that the Coalition government will be removed from office by the electorate, this looks suspiciously like a desperate act to lock the incoming ALP government into allowing the mine to go ahead.


The Paris agreement to slow climate change requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak very soon and then be reduced steeply. That means there should be no new coal mines or coal-fired power stations, anywhere. The Carmichael mine would not just be a tragic acceleration of climate change. It would also provide the infrastructure to encourage the opening of other coal mines in the Galilee Basin. Approving the mine is totally inconsistent with our obligation to the global community to help slow climate change.”


Related


Climate change report shows the current reality, and it’s not pretty


Coal-fired power stations ‘disrupt rainfall patterns’


Federal Budget 2019: Mixed outcomes for health and the environment




About the Author

Ben Lewis
Ben Lewis is the Editor of Australia’s Science Channel, and a contributor to Cosmos Magazine. He has worked with scientists and science storytellers including Brian Cox, Chris Hadfield, Robert Llewellyn, astronauts, elite athletes, Antarctic explorers, chefs and comedians. Ben has also been involved in public events around Australia and was co-writer, producer and director of The Science of Doctor Who, which toured nationally in 2014 in association with BBC Worldwide Australia & New Zealand. Want more Ben? You can hear him on ABC and commercial radio in Adelaide, regional SA, across NSW, and the ACT. He also speaks at universities around Australia on communicating science to the public. Around the office he makes the worst jokes known to mankind.

Published By

Science and technology is as much a part of our cultural fabric as art, music, theatre and literature. They play a significant role in our daily lives, yet, in a world dependent on science, we often take them for granted. Australia’s Science Channel believes every citizen has a right, and a responsibility, to be informed, and our mission is to create programs to bring that about.


Featured Videos

Placeholder
Columbia: NASA blew it
Placeholder
The Face of a Stranger
Placeholder
Where Does Space Begin?
Placeholder
The Rarest Drug on Earth
Placeholder
Why is blue so rare in nature
Placeholder
Ant Sisters
Placeholder
Jeremy the Lefty Snail and Other Asymmetrical Animals
Placeholder
Tracking Snow
Placeholder
Smart Slime?
Placeholder
Good in the machine
Placeholder
Kessler Syndrome: What happens when satellites collide?
Placeholder
Why This Skateboarding Trick Should Be Impossible
Placeholder
Charles Camarda on becoming an astronaut
Placeholder
Alan Duffy on what it took to get humans to the Moon
Placeholder
Do aliens exist? Brian Cox explains
Placeholder
From Apollo to Pulsars: Parkes still dishing out the discoveries
Placeholder
Brian Cox on black holes
Placeholder
Australia's 60,000 years of space history
Placeholder
In Class With… Jane Goodall
Placeholder
Etienne Rastoin-Laplane - What's fishy about the Galapagos?
Placeholder
Kit Prendergast - Flowers to keep native bees buzzing
Placeholder
Rebecca Wellard - Eavesdropping on killer whales
Placeholder
Hossein Tavassoli - Mending broken hearts
Placeholder
Dilan Seckiner - Forensic gait analysis
Placeholder
Samuel Bladwell - A new spin on electronics
Placeholder
Sathana Dushyanthen - The double-edged cancer sword
Placeholder
Dwan Price - Nuts and Guts
Placeholder
Catriona Nguyen-Robertson - Exercise takes your immune system for a ride
Placeholder
Thimo Ruethers - The deadly danger of crocs on a plate
Placeholder
Amanda Tauber - Slamming the brakes on metastatic cancer
Placeholder
Hayley Teasdale – The ball that prevents falls (FameLab Australia 2019 Runner-up)
Placeholder
In the Shadow of a Black Hole
Placeholder
In Class With... Monica Gagliano
Placeholder
In Class With... Brian Cox
Placeholder
Start your FameLab 2019 journey now
Placeholder
Nural Cokcetin - It all starts with FameLab
Placeholder
Erinn Fagan-Jeffries - It all starts with FameLab
Placeholder
Ronald Yu - It all starts with FameLab
Placeholder
Noushin Nasiri - It all starts with FameLab
Placeholder
Grassroots
Placeholder
What is machine learning?
Placeholder
Mythbusting artificial intelligence with expert Anton van den Hengel
Placeholder
Using machine learning to predict medical outcomes
Placeholder
KCLOC
Placeholder
Nature Calls
Placeholder
Mexican Fishing Bats
Placeholder
Bittersweet
Placeholder
Timelapse
Placeholder
Invisible Blanket
Placeholder
Look
Placeholder
The Anomalies: Venom Race
Placeholder
Science Meets Making
Placeholder
Spiral
Placeholder
Looking Out There
Placeholder
Protectors of the Penguins
Placeholder
Astroturf
Placeholder
Virtual Humans
Placeholder
Rancheros del Jaguar
Placeholder
Searching For Dark Matter
Placeholder
Finding prehistoric mega-shark fossils on Victoria's coast
Placeholder
The Grandfather of computers
Placeholder
James Cameron talks science
Placeholder
In Class With.....David Suzuki - The Environment
Placeholder
In Class With.....David Suzuki - Career
Placeholder
Sustainable water use with Doug Green
Placeholder
Why is Indigenous science important?
Placeholder
Vanessa Pirotta - Using drones to collect whale snot (FameLab Australia 2018 Winner)
Placeholder
Toby Hendy - Poking Plants (FameLab Australia 2018 Runner-Up)
Placeholder
Muthu Vignesh Vellayappan - Groovy Patches (FameLab Australia 2018 Audience Choice)
Placeholder
Taryn Laubenstein - The Tail of Two Fishes
Placeholder
Richard Charlesworth - Coeliac disease diagnosis can be a pain in the posterior
Placeholder
Pegah Maasoumi - Solar Windows
Placeholder
James Wong - Breathing while you hop: How do kangaroos do it?
Placeholder
Ben McAllister - The ORGAN Experiment: Shining a light on dark matter
Placeholder
Mortaza Rezae - Empowering beautiful minds
Placeholder
Zane Stromberga - Can allergy drugs beat bladder disease?
Placeholder
Working In.....Art - Astrophotography
Placeholder
What's the best way to move - springs or muscles?
Placeholder
FameLab Australia Semi-Final Highlights
Placeholder
Saving lives with platypus milk
Placeholder
Australian astronomers witness death throes of a cocooned star
Placeholder
How Australia's politicians see our future in space
Placeholder
Keeping satellites in the loop
Placeholder
Tim Flannery talks about COP
Placeholder
Tim Jarvis & Tim Flannery talk Climate Change
Placeholder
Andy's Week in Science - robo baby, university rankings, and cancer on circadian rhythms
Placeholder
From chocolate factory to surgery - the milliDelta robot
Placeholder
Andy's Week in Science: video games, low tech transition windows and a new CRISPR technique
Placeholder
Science lessons useful in Art Restoration career
Placeholder
Are drones the future of racing?
Placeholder
The future of esports according to the experts
Placeholder
Seeing is believing with artist Eugenie Lee
Placeholder
The human impact of Art Science collaboration
Placeholder
Follow your Interests in Robotics
Placeholder
Zoz on 3D Printing
Placeholder
Flavia Tata Nardini on women in engineering
Placeholder
Flavia Tata Nardini on the future of the internet
Placeholder
Explore the ocean floor and Antarctic biodiversity
Placeholder
Follow your interests in Medical Research
Placeholder
Artists on Science
Placeholder
What is Space Archaeology?
Placeholder
Follow your Interests
Placeholder
Scientists on Art
Placeholder
3D Printing in Medical Research
Placeholder
Ethical Issues
Placeholder
Problem Solving - Robotics at Dermatec
Placeholder
Problem Solving with CSI
Placeholder
Tamarah King - Earthquake Geologist
Placeholder
True or False with Bajo and Rad BONUS ROUND
Placeholder
True or False with Bajo & Rad
Placeholder
Andy's Week in Science - Cats vs Dogs
Placeholder
FameLab 2018 - Get Involved!
Placeholder
Nural Cokcetin - How FameLab changed my life
Placeholder
Erinn Fagan-Jeffries - How FameLab changed my life
Placeholder
Noushin Nasiri - How FameLab changed my life
Placeholder
Ronald Yu - How FameLab changed my life
Placeholder
Alan Duffy's Top 5 Science Communication Tips
Placeholder
A Judge's Top Tips for FameLab Australia
Placeholder
Brain Candy - Why, Why, Why Michael Stevens?
Placeholder
The Past, Present, and Future of Malaria
Placeholder
This is a video of poo pills being made!
Placeholder
Mind Games - Sports Psychology
Placeholder
Fuel to Win - Sports Nutrition
Placeholder
Fifty years since Australia beat the world to space
Placeholder
ECR Network: Talk Your Science with Alan Duffy
Placeholder
Andy's Week in Science - chimps, klompen, and clouds
Placeholder
Our robot medicine future - heart huggers and micro biohybrids
Placeholder
Six Awkward Cancer Questions
Placeholder
How do you tell if a whale is left-handed?
Placeholder
She Flies - Turning Girls into Drone Pilots
Placeholder
Andy's Week in Science - Magnetic Fabric, Cancer Treatments, and Echolocation
Placeholder
The Science of Sexuality
Placeholder
Sailing Through Space with Bill Nye
Placeholder
Using Sports Science to Help Olympic Athletes
Placeholder
Three and a Half Minutes of Top Shelf Career Advice
Placeholder
New Space Tech with Andrea Boyd
Placeholder
Kelly Meets the Mars Curiosity Rover
Placeholder
Hearts, Opera, and Tough Conversations - Andy's Week in Science
Placeholder
Bill Nye on Science, Girls, and Saving the World!
Placeholder
2017 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science Part 2
Placeholder
2017 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science Part 1
Placeholder
Who Decides the Law in Space?
Placeholder
Scientists Watch Collision That Created Gravitational Waves
Placeholder
Getting Cold Feet Leads to a Whole New Career
Placeholder
ECR Network - Why Every Scientist Should Be on Twitter - The Benefits
Placeholder
ECR Network - Why Every Scientist Should Be On Twitter - The Fears
Placeholder
Live Podcast - Life Vs Science
Placeholder
Origami Robots, Babies, and Kidneys - Andy's Week in Science
Placeholder
Namira Salim and the Zero-G Peace Summit
Placeholder
Elon Musk's Mars Plan: Expert Analysis
Placeholder
SPACE AF - Thursday
Placeholder
My Time in Space
Placeholder
IAC TV Daily Broadcast - Wednesday
Placeholder
SPACE AF - Wednesday
Placeholder
IAC TV Daily broadcast - Tuesday
Placeholder
SPACE AF - Tuesday
Placeholder
IAC TV daily broadcast - Monday
01:00:41
Placeholder
SPACE AF - Monday
Placeholder
Live from IAC 2017
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Technology Rewrites History
Placeholder
Methamphetamine - Gateway Drug to Parkinson's Disease
Placeholder
Concussion, 3D BioPrinting, and The Universe - Andy's Week in Science
Placeholder
Pulsars, Clearwigs, and Pacemakers - Andy's Week in Science
Placeholder
Revolutions - The Quest to Transform HPV Racing
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Hurricane Irma Blows Away Tesla's Rip Off
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - The Limit of Your Lifespan
Placeholder
The Recipient
Placeholder
Think Like a Scientist: Natural Selection in an Outbreak
Placeholder
The End of Snow
Placeholder
The Next Rembrandt
Placeholder
The Discarded
Placeholder
The Spectators
Placeholder
Test Tube Babes
Placeholder
Pangolins in Peril- A Story of Rare Scales
Placeholder
Rock Art Project
Placeholder
Pork.0
Placeholder
OWSIA (Darkened Water)
Placeholder
Nex
Placeholder
Northern Quolls
Placeholder
Dish Life
Placeholder
At Street Level
Placeholder
Custom Love
Placeholder
Adrift
Placeholder
A Story from Space
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - The Most Dangerous Thing in Boxing May Be the Gloves
Placeholder
ECR Network 2017 – Get Interdisciplinary!
01:27:00
Placeholder
Chris Hadfield: The Future of Space Exploration
Placeholder
Chris Hadfield: Life After Space
Placeholder
Chris Hadfield: Life in Space
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Let's Make Algae Australian of the Year
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Australia's Energy Showdown
Placeholder
Nine Awkward Astrophysicist Questions
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - There's No Such Thing as an Exercise Pill
Placeholder
National Science Week Awards Show
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Your 5 Step Asteroid Success Plan
Placeholder
National Science Week Forecast
Placeholder
Open Doors. Open Future. Open Day.
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Lose a Little to Gain Millions
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Crowd Sourcing Origami Astronaut Protection
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - T-Rex's Prehistoric Power Walk
Placeholder
True or False with Kale Brock
Placeholder
The Grandfather Paradox
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - The Hidden Heroes Tackling Mozzies
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Emergency AI Assistance
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Frogs Forever, Dinosaurs Never!
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Australia, Let's Go To Space
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Welcome to the Microbiome, Archaea!
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Roos Blindside Driverless Cars
Placeholder
Biodiversity of Antarctica Under Threat From Increase In Ice-Free Areas
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - The Future of the Census
Placeholder
Tell Me! Brian Cox
Placeholder
Crash, Burn, Tweak, Repeat
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Humans Just Got Older and Wiser
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Cheers to Brain Health?
Placeholder
Gene Therapy Could Cure Allergies
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - iHeart Hacking
Placeholder
Ridiculology - New Hubble
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Trees Alone Can't Save Us
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Earth's Accidental Force Field
Placeholder
Dinosaurs on the Big Screen
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Farewell MP3
Placeholder
Kids Beat Grown-ups on Pneumonia Vaccines
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - The Booger Conspiracy
Placeholder
FameLab 2017 National Final - Part 2
Placeholder
FameLab 2017 National Final - Part 1
Placeholder
2017 Budget Response
Placeholder
What Are Animal Weapons?
Placeholder
If You Love Both Art and Science, Be a Scientific Illustrator
Placeholder
Getting Personal With Skinks
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - CSIRO Email Leaks
Placeholder
FameLab 2017 Western Australia Semi-Final Highlights
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - New Hope for Premmies
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Britain Goes Coal-Free
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Naked Mole-Rats (SFW)
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Easter Reminders
Placeholder
Meet Andrea Boyd - Space Flight Controller
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Sperm Drug Smugglers
Placeholder
FameLab 2017 New South Wales Semi-Final Highlights
Placeholder
The Science of Fiction
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Liquorice Poisoning
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Crowdsourcing Science
Placeholder
FameLab 2017 Queensland Semi-Final Highlights
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - SpaceX Preps for Relaunch
Placeholder
Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome Breakthrough
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - Surviving a Media Storm
Placeholder
Will This Aussie Team Win the Race to Create the Ultimate Malaria Vaccine?
Placeholder
Brew Ha Ha - New Dino Family Tree
Placeholder
How to fix things with Kyle Wiens