Land court gives go signal to the Adani Carmichael mine

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Coal falls from a stacker/reclaimer to a stockpile at the coal port in Newcastle June 6, 2012. Falling coal prices and soaring costs have forced Australia's producers to start trimming output and letting go of some workers, hurting miners, rail and port operators and potentially threatening plans for more than $30 billion of investment in new mines. Picture taken June 6, 2012. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

The Adani Carmichael mine, which could be Australia’s largest coal mine if the project is allowed to go forward, has won a major battle in its struggle with the conservationists on Tuesday. The land court has recommended the state government to allow the mining venture to go ahead but with tighter conditions to protect the environment from the possible hazards that might arise from it.

The land court president, Carmel MacDonald, has attached extra conditions on monitoring the impacts of the mining activities on waterways near the mining site in central Queensland and on the local threatened bird species, the black-throated finch.

The Guardian reported that the ruling has, however, only recommended the state government to allow the project to roll but it is not binding on the state’s mining minister to issue mining and environmental licences to Adani because of the ruling.

The legal challenge was brought against the Indian conglomerate by the state Environmental Defender’s Office on behalf of the environmental group Coast and Country. Adani has even recently requested Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to frame laws that would block the green groups from protesting.

However, the court has pointed out that the Indian mining company has overstated the economic benefits that can be expected out of the project in both the environmental impact statement as well as in the statement to the court.

According to Adani, its mining project at central Queensland would generate 10,000 jobs annually from 2024. But MacDonald agreed to an assessment by Jerome Fahrer, Adani’s own witness, who said the project, along with the connecting rail project, would only generate 1,464 jobs annually.

"Dr. Fahrer's evidence, which I have accepted, was that the Carmichael Coal and Rail Project will increase average annual employment by 1,206 fte [full time equivalent] jobs in Queensland and 1,464 fte jobs in Australia," she stated.

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