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Adani start work on the Carmichael Coal Mine breaching its Environmental Authority

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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.

Adani has started work on the Carmichael Coal Mine earlier than permitted, breaching its Environmental Authority. It has 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.

This work includes:

  • Putting in permanent infrastructure so Adani can use unlimited groundwater at the mine site, drilling six of its 48 groundwater bores, and starting operations to ‘dewater’ the coal seam. By drilling into the aquifers connected to the Great Artesian Basin, Adani has potentially begun depressuring the source aquifer for the ancient Doongmabulla Springs, which could cause the springs to become extinct.
  • Constructing access roads and installing permanent infrastructure, eg to enable drilling, parking and water storage.
  • Clearing trees and other vegetation for the construction of six dewatering bores, disturbing a significant land area of 28,238 square metres (around the size of Brisbane’s Gabba).
  • Adani’s head of Environment and Sustainability has provided false and misleading statements to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science in its latest and first Annual Return, failing to record the construction work and reporting that Adani had complied with their Environmental Authority.

What are the consequences of this work?

Adani has not yet received approval for its Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan (GDEMP). This plan is designed to protect precious groundwater, aquifers and sensitive threatened ecosystems from Adani’s mine project, which will use vast quantities of groundwater. Adani’s draft GDEMP has been widely criticised as inadequate.

Adani has begun drilling water bores before crucial scientific research has been completed to assess the damage the mine could do to groundwater and ancient springs. The Doongmabulla Springs Complex – nationally important wetlands near the mine – are listed as “threatened ecological communities” and have been identified in the Queensland Land Court as having exceptional ecological significance. They are home to several endemic and threatened species which are protected at law. Adani has not identified the source of this springs. Water scientists point to the risk that dewatering coal seams before the source aquifer is identified will cause permanent damage to the springs. If the springs dry up this will constitute serious environmental harm, with endemic species becoming extinct at the site. These springs cannot be repaired or ‘offset’.

The drilling of groundwater bores may well involve employing dangerous chemicals and other compounds, including biocides. These are often used when drilling in locations where high pressure aquifers and artesian bores are present.