Adani’s coal mine has been approved: Here’s everything you need to know about it

Coal mine. Source: Getty
Coal mine. Source: Getty

Adani, the mining firm that proposed Queensland’s Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin, has just been given the tick of approval for its groundwater management plan.

After years of planning and protests, this was the final obstacle in the mining company’s path to construction of the mine.

Adani Mining CEO, Lucas Dow, said the Queensland environment department’s approval was confirmation that the plan complied with all regulatory conditions set by the Australian government.

In a statement confirming the approval, Dow said this “paves the way for construction to commence on the Carmichael Project”.

It looks like it’s full steam ahead, but if you’re unsure of what this means for Australia, you wouldn’t be the only one.

Who is Adani, and what’s the Carmichael mine?

Adani Australia are an energy and infrastructure company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of India’s Adani Group.

In 2017, Adani proposed to construct the Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Here’s exactly where that is:

This is a map of the Galilee Basin in Queensland. It shows Adani's Carmichael mine, which is located within the Basin, and its proposed North Galilee Basin rail structure, which links to Abbot Point. Source:
A map of the Galilee Basin and Adani's Carmichael mine in Queensland. Source:

It was approved to produce up to 60 million tonnes of thermal coal every year (on par with the biggest mine in the US), but at this stage, it’s only planning to produce around 27.5 million tonnes.

To put that into perspective, BMA’s Blackwater mine in Queensland produces around 13 million tonnes of coal, while BHP’s Mount Arthur mine in NSW produces 15 million tonnes.

Originally, it was meant to cost around $16.5 billion, but it was unable to source finance from any Aussie major bank, and was knocked back by banks in China too.

Eventually, it announced it would self-finance a $2 billion version of the mine.

Adani’s mine was a major issue at the 2017 Queensland election, with the Greens heavily opposing it due to its environmental implications, and premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Labor party gave the mine their full support.

What are the advantages of Adani’s coal mine?

Support for the mine is primarily based on one major factor: jobs.

Australian politicians supported the Carmichael mine for the jobs it could provide.

Queensland’s unemployment rate at the time the mine was proposed (in 2017) was 6.4 per cent, and it rose even higher in some regional areas.

Adani originally said the project would provide 10,000 Aussies with jobs, and Prime Minister at the time, Malcolm Turnbull spruiked the same number.

Earlier this year this theory was debunked when Adani confirmed that while around 6,750 indirect jobs could be created during the mine’s construction, the number of ongoing positions could be as low as 800.

However, those jobs in Queensland would come at the expense of mining jobs elsewhere, The Guardian reported.

On top of that, coal-producing basins in NSW and southern Queensland would be forced to cut their production by over a third if Carmichael opened, because Carmichael’s coal supply would displace production in other basins, according to the ABC.

But, Aussie ministers also argued that coal from Adani’s Carmichael mine would help lift people in India out of poverty, since it would be used to generate electricity where many people had no access to power.

Former Aussie minister for the environment and energy, and current Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said the mine would extend to lift those out of poverty “right across the world”.

What is Stop Adani?

You probably heard the noise from the #StopAdani campaign, which looked something like this:

Bob Brown speaks during a stop-Adani rally outside Parliament House on May 05, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. Source: Getty
Bob Brown speaks during a stop-Adani rally outside Parliament House on May 05, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. Source: Getty

The campaign was brought on to highlight the devastating environmental effects Adani’s Carmichael mine, rail and port would have.

What are the disadvantages of Adani’s coal mine?

Adani’s infrastructure in the Galilee Basin would see 500 coal ships travel through the already endangered Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area every year for 50 years.

The groundwater plan, which was recently approved, would see Adani gain access to 270 billion litres of Queensland’s groundwater for 60 years, for free.

It would add around 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon pollution to our atmosphere too.

Critically, Adani’s mine would unlock the Galilee Basin, which is one of the world’s largest untapped coal deposits.

This means at least 8 more coal mines could be built.

Currently, another 6 have been proposed for the region, all at a time when Australia should be considering renewable energy sources and making changes to protect the environment.

What’s next for Adani?

The Australian Conservation Foundation won a Federal Court appeal, which found that the Commonwealth hadn’t properly assessed about 2,000 public submissions on Adani’s plans to use river water.

While that could present another block in the road for the mining juggernaut, the ACF conceded the decision was unlikely to further delay the project given the Queensland environmental department gave it the green light, the ABC reported.

Adani’s Dow said he expected construction to commence in the next few days.

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