Adani's $15bn coal mine in Australia facing fresh legal challenges

Adani's $15bn coal mine in Australia facing fresh legal challenges

Carmichael has been the focus of opposition by organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects in the environmentally sensitive area.

Indian mining giant Adani, already facing judicial reviews and legal challenges aimed at either stopping or delaying its $15bn (A$16.5bn) Carmichael Coal mine and rail project in Queensland's Galilee Basin, has been served again.

Environmentalists from Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) has asked the federal court to overturn the environment minister, Greg Hunt’s approval of the mine complex, arguing he did not take into account the impact on the Great Barrier Reef of the greenhouse gases emitted when the coal is burned.

Environment ministers typically evaluate only the emissions from greenhouse gases produced during the mining process, not the emissions produced when the coal is burned. Adani, Reuters reports, was not required to consider emissions from the burning of the coal mined in its environmental impact statement.

The massive mine will be the largest in Queensland, which is Australia's biggest coal-producing state, exporting almost half the country's total last year.

The case, filed by the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) on behalf MCG, is the third lodged by environmental and community groups against the mine. It comes only a day after The Australian Labor Party announced it would end taxpayer support for the controversial mine.

“Subsidising damage to the reef with taxpayers' funds is not a strong choice; it's a reckless approach that will damage Queensland's most precious natural asset,” a party spokeswoman said, according to SkyNews.

But state government claims the project has the potential to create 6,400 new jobs: around 2,500 construction positions and 3,900 operational posts.

Minefield

Coal port projects and expansions have been a source of controversy in the last two years, with academics and environmental groups raising the issue of “irreparable damage” to the country’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Adani's $15bn coal mine in Australia facing fresh legal challenges

Map from IEEFA’s report. Click on it to expand. 

In 2012 UNESCO, the UN educational, scientific and cultural arm, sent an inspection team to the area, finding “a continuing decline in the quality of some parts” of the reef.  However, the Queensland Resources Council was quick to snub the report.

The following year, more than 150 marine scientists from 33 institutions signed a letter warning Australian authorities of the mounting threats new coal ports and other industrial projects pose to the reef’s habitat.

And in May 2014, Deutsche Bank refused to fund Adani’s plans to expand the port after the UN rose fresh on the world’s heritage site.

Some 100 million tonnes of coal will pass along the railway every year.