- After eight years, the Adani coalmine in the Galilee Basin has received its final environmental approval, effectively giving it the green light.
- While the argument for the mine has largely revolved around jobs creation, the exact number remains unclear with the local federal MP Michelle Landry admitting she hasn’t asked Adani for a figure.
- While the Coaltion government and Labor welcomed the decision, the Greens and community groups have said the fight to stop the mine is not over yet.
It was the political issue that wouldn’t go away, but now it appears the Adani Carmichael coal mine is finally going ahead.
For eight years its approval has divided political parties, as well as the country.
In northern and central Queensland, locals were thankful for the jobs it was promised to create and the local economic boost. Elsewhere, electorates were opposed to the environmental impact of a new coal mine in an era of climate change concerns.
Such division placed policymakers in a precarious political position.
In the lead-up to the federal election, the then-Labor leader Bill Shorten said he wouldn’t interfere in Adani’s approval, despite unequivocally stating his objections just one year earlier.
On Thursday, however, the Queensland Environment Department signed off on a groundwater management plan — the final approval the project required — effectively giving the Indian mining giant the green light to begin construction.
“We’re taking preparatory work, including site inductions, ensuring we’ve got all the safety protocols in place and that we’re going to meet all the environmental requirements,” Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow told Sky News after the approval was granted.
“Then you’ll see construction activity commence over the next few weeks.”
While Dow added that it was exciting news for local workers, the exact number of jobs remains unclear.
Adani originally promised to employ 10,000 people, the size of the mine has since been scaled back with the miner now admitting only 1,500 direct jobs will be created, along with a further 6,750 indirect ones.
Speaking to ABC RN Breakfast Radio one day after the approval, even the local federal MP for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she didn’t know the final figure.
'I've never actually asked for a specific number', @mlandryMP on her conversations with #Adani CEO Lucas Dow about the jobs in the Carmichael Basin, 'this is 1000's & 1000's of jobs … we're very happy about it … its amazing what we can do when we all work together'.
— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) June 13, 2019
Critics have also contrasted that number with the 64,000 the Great Barrier Reef supports, claiming that the environmental impact of the Carmichael mine could reduce that number.
Labor appears to have now confirmed its stance on the mine, with shadow minister for agriculture and resources Joel Fitzgibbon telling Sky News he welcomed the approval decision.
.@fitzhunter on the Adani coal mine approval: We welcome the decision, we welcome the investment, we welcome the jobs, and in particular we welcome the opportunities for Indigenous employment in central Queensland.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) June 13, 2019
Despite Thursday’s approval, however, the fight against Adani is “far from over”, the Greens said in a media statement foreshadowing a parlimentary and possible legal battle.
“The Greens will use every lever we have available in our parliament, our courts and on the streets,” Greens spokesperson for mining and resources Larissa Waters said.
While this was the final state-level mine site approval for Adani, they still don’t have approval for the railway or pipeline, or all federal plans approved. Nor do they have a social licence! People power will win a safe climate and real jobs as coal communities transition.
— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) June 13, 2019
Community groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) also slammed the decision, saying it would be met with community protests.
“If Adani think that they’ll be able to start work on this mine without a fight, they’ve got another thing coming. A powerful community movement involving millions of people across the continent has held off this destructive project for the last six years and we’re never backing down,” AYCC campaigns director Olivia Hill said in a statement.
Given it can now count on support from both the Coalition federal government and the Labor federal opposition, for now at least the Adani coal mine looks like it will go ahead.
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