Adani could face further prosecution for illegal work at Carmichael mine site

Protesters rallied outside Adani's Brisbane office on September 13 calling for the company to stop illegal work at the Carmichael mine site. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Environment consultancy and advocacy group Coast and Country has released damning evidence that suggests Adani acted illegally by undertaking pre-emptive work at its proposed mine site in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. 

The allegations come less than a week after the Queensland government decided to prosecute Adani for pollution violations.

Coast and Country said on September 12: “There is clear evidence, collected via on ground inspections, high resolution satellite and aerial imagery, that Adani has committed offences under both Queensland and Commonwealth law.”

Coast and Country say Adani has started work on its Carmichael mega coalmine earlier than permitted, thereby breaching its Environmental Authority. Adani has also “started construction before important water plans have been approved.”

"This high impact work creates serious risks for Queensland’s groundwater, the ancient Doongmabulla and Yukanna Kumoo springs complexes and the species that rely on the springs,” it said.

The list of works that Adani is alleged to have undertaken without approval includes:

• Installing permanent infrastructure to access unlimited groundwater at the mine site and initiating operations to “dewater” the coal seam;

• Building access roads and permanent infrastructure for drilling, parking and water storage; and

• Removing trees and other vegetation to construct six dewatering bores, disturbing a land area of 28,238 square metres.

The environmental group also alleges that Adani’s head of Environment and Sustainability provided “false and misleading statements to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science in its latest and first Annual Return”, in which it failed to record construction work.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) said on September 12: “Adani has commenced works on its mine site which appear to be in excess of what their approvals allow.

“Aerial imagery … appear to show the construction of bores consistent with the planned location of Adani’s advanced dewatering bores.”

It added that “Adani’s environmental approval prevents the commencement of ‘Stage 2’, which includes commencing dewatering operations, until it has a plan approved to manage the impacts on nearby springs (the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan, or GDEMP).

“As the government has not approved the GDEMP, commencement of dewatering operations is a breach of the conditions of approval.”

Speaking at a press conference outside Queensland parliament on September 12, EDO Qld’s CEO Jo Bragg produced documents showing Adani had provided false or misleading information to the Department of Environment and Science.

“Adani’s annual return submitted on 22 March 2018 stated that the ‘actual’ and ‘planned’ disturbance areas are zero for the annual return period ending on 2 April 2018”, Bragg said.

“However, the aerial imagery published by Coast and Country indicates that large areas of land have been actually disturbed before 2 April 2018 and Adani’s plan of operations at the time showed a further 114 hectares that was planned to be disturbed before 29 September 2018.”

“EDO Qld would expect DES to take the evidence presented by Coast and Country very seriously and undertake its own investigations to independently determine whether DES agrees that the law has been breached. 

“If DES agrees that Adani has broken the law, EDO Qld would expect DES to take enforcement action to ensure compliance with the law.”

EDO Qld has launched a petition calling on the Queensland government to prosecute Adani if it has breached the terms of its approval. 

A protest was held on September 13 outside Adani’s Brisbane headquarters, demanding the Queensland government order Adani to immediately halt any illegal work and prosecute the company for any illegal activity already undertaken.

Stop Adani campaigners are calling on the federal government to immediately review Adani’s environmental approval and for Labor opposition to publicly oppose the mine.

A national doorknocking campaign to collect signatures on Stop Adani petitions is set to culminate over the weekend of October 6-7.

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