Revocation of Australia’s largest coal mine licence ‘a sabotage’ — Abbot

Revocation of Australia’s largest coal mine licence ‘a sabotage’ — Abbot

Adani's Carmichael project 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.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot is calling the recent legal blow to Adani’s huge Carmichael coal mine and rail project a “real problem” for the country’s mining industry.

In an interview with The Australian, the leader said that if a “vital national project” can be endlessly delayed and courts can be turned into “a means of sabotaging projects,” which are actually striving to meet the highest environmental standards, then Australia has “a real problem” as a nation.

We can’t become a nation of naysayers; we have to remain a nation that gives people a fair go if they play by the rules,” Abbot said according to the paper.

His comments were welcomed by The Minerals Council of Australia’s (MCA) CEO, Brendan Person. In an e-mailed statement he said Abbot’s warning about the risks posed to the country’s ailing economy by ideologically motivated campaigns to halt mining projects, was timely.

“New projects must be treated on their merits, not held up by vexatious and incessant legal appeals lodged by a small band of anti-mining protestors funded by overseas interests.” Pearson warned that future investment in the sector would be at risk if projects continued to face endless suspensions.

Technical error

On Wednesday the federal court of Australia overturned government approval for the construction of Adani Group’s controversial $12 billion (A$16bn) Carmichael coal mine and rail project, which has become an emblem for the ongoing battle between environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry.

The project is near the Great Barrier Reef, and conservationists have warned of damage to the ecosystem of the world heritage-listed site.

This week’s court decision was based on a technical error made by Australia’s department of environment, Adani Group said on Wednesday, adding that the minister would now have to reconsider the application for approval. The company described the oversight as “regrettable”.

Revocation of Australia’s largest coal mine licence ‘a sabotage’ — Abbot

Project location (Click on image to expand).

In June, the company halted preparatory engineering work on the project as a result of delays to receiving all the regulatory approvals, but the Indian conglomerate has insisted it remains committed to building the mine.

Coal projects are facing global opposition due to an aggressive campaign by environmental activists, analysts and economists. They argue new mines don't make sense because the fuel, which has the heaviest carbon dioxide emissions of any power source, will have to be phased out before investors can get their money back.

At the same time, prices for the commodity have fallen to the lowest in years.

Developing countries, however, are still building coal-fired power plants even as they lay out plans to increase their renewable energy.