Adani groundwater plan gets Qld govt green light

THE Queensland Department of Environment and Science has approved Adani’s Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan – clearing the final state government hurdle for its proposed Carmichael coal project.
Adani groundwater plan gets Qld govt green light  Adani groundwater plan gets Qld govt green light  Adani groundwater plan gets Qld govt green light  Adani groundwater plan gets Qld govt green light  Adani groundwater plan gets Qld govt green light

Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow.

This should have been the final approval for the project, however, a Federal Court decision on June 12 means part of the federal approvals have to be done over.


According to an Adani spokeswoman that federal approval hiccup will not stop the company starting work on Carmichael.


Queensland's DES said in a statement that the GDEMP assessment had been rigorous and based on the best available science.


"DES and Adani have met regularly to ensure the plan is robust and provides the maximum environmental protection," it said.


"In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia - the same advice considered by the Commonwealth Government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year."


Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow said the approval was confirmation the plan complied with all regulatory conditions set by the federal and state governments, bringing to a close a two-year process of scientific inquiry, review and approvals.


"This includes relevant reviews by Australia's pre-eminent scientific organisations CSIRO and Geoscience Australia," he said.


"The finalisation of the GDEMP and Black-throated Finch Management Plan paves the way for construction to commence on the Carmichael Project and the delivery of much needed jobs for regional Queenslanders.


"Moving forward, our priority is ensuring the safety of everyone who works on the project and that all construction activity meets the strict environmental requirements we have agreed to meet in our management plans and approvals.


"Over the coming days preparatory activities such as finalising contracts, mobilising equipment, recruitment and completing inductions will continue. These preparatory actions will enable us to then start construction activities including fencing, bridge and road upgrades, water management and civil earthworks on the mine site.


"The level of construction activity will then steadily increase over the coming weeks."


Dow said the project would deliver 1500 direct and 6750 indirect jobs during ramp up and construction, with Rockhampton and Townsville the primary hubs for employment.


DES had sought further clarification and advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, which it received on June 7 2019.


Based on this advice, it was satisfied the GDEMP sufficiently established the main source aquifer of the springs as the Clematis Sandstone.


CSIRO and Geoscience Australia also confirmed some level of uncertainty in geological and groundwater conceptual models always existed.


DES has sought additional commitments from Adani to undertake further scientific work over the next two years. This is required to identify any potential contribution from other aquifers and strengthen the GDEMP.


Additional measures in the GDEMP also address concerns raised by Flinders University scientists that the Permian aquifers should not be ruled out as a source for the Doongmabulla Springs Complex.


These include installing a bore below the Rewan Formation, in the vicinity of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, to assist in determining if the Permian aquifers (Colinlea) form a source for the springs.


Adani is also required to review hydrological, hydrochemistry analyses and seismic information as part of its second geological and groundwater remodelling after box cut mining starts, and review seismic information pertaining to underground mining impacts. Underground mining is scheduled to start in year 10 of the project.


Further seismic studies may also need to be undertaken.


Underground mining is not allowed to start until those actions are completed and then only if predicted impacts are consistent with approved impacts. 


Likewise, if the hydrogeological conceptualisation differs from that of the approved project, approval must be sought prior to relevant impact causing activities.


The GDEMP is the second of the two environmental management plans - the other being the Black-Throated Finch Management Plan, approved on May 31 - that needed to be approved before Adani could begin significant mining activities at its Carmichael mine site.


Green groups have all slammed the Queensland government's approval of Adani's groundwater plan while mining and business groups have applauded the state approval.


However, while the state approvals have been granted, Adani has to revisit one of Carmichael's federal approvals.


A Federal Court ruled, in an action brought by the Australian Conservation Foundation, that the federal Department of Environment and Energy failed to consider all the public submissions over Adani's proposed North Galilee Water scheme.


The North Galilee Water Scheme is a critical infrastructure project to support Adani's proposed Carmichael coal mine. It proposes a 110-kilometre pipeline from the Suttor River.


The ACF launched a case in December challenging then Environment Minister Melissa Price's failure to apply the water trigger to Adani's pipeline proposal.


In February ACF asked the court to include an additional ground in the case, relating to whether the minister properly considered thousands of public submissions on her assessment of the water infrastructure proposal.


Court orders show while the DEE considered a summary of public submissions, "there was a material failure by the delegate to consider some of the public comments received".


The DEE also lost an unknown number of public comments on the matter.

In a statement, an Adani spokeswoman said Adani was engaging with the Department of Environment and Energy in relation to next steps.


The Queensland Environmental Defenders Office, which acted for the ACF in the case, said people were denied their right to a voice in the approvals process.


"This win will ensure their voice is heard," it said.


"Now the government will need to go back to the drawing board and open up assessment of the project for public comment again."


ACF CEO Kelly O'Shanassy said the government has admitted it comprehensively failed to apply proper process when former Environment Minister Melissa Price assessed Adani's plans to take up to 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River in outback Queensland to service its mine.


"The government conceded it did not properly consider more than 2000 public submissions from Australians with concerns about the mine and the water scheme," she said.


"It also admitted to losing submissions."