Queensland’s government has given the green light for one of the world’s largest coalmines – the much-touted and often doubted Carmichael project near Rockhampton.
Opponents of the $22b development by the Indian multinational Adani Group will note the approval comes as Al Gore’s worldwide Climate Reality Project is hosting its sixth annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast.
Each hour of the live event is focussing on climate change in one of the 24 largest national emitters of carbon dioxide in the world.
Broadcast across various TV channels and Facebook, the event is featuring politicians and celebrities including Ryan Reynolds, Jon Bon Jovi and Gisele Bundchen.
But in Australia, the Adani project has roused environmentalists’ ire. As prime minister Malcolm Turnbull met company head Gautam Adani in Melbourne yesterday, more than 300 people rallied to protest the federal government’s $1b loan to the company to build a rail line through the environmentally sensitive region. So what is the Adani mine?
WHAT IS ADANI?
A multinational company based in Ahmedabad, India, Adani Group builds and operates mines, ports and power plants. The company has coal, gas and renewable energy operations across India, Indonesia and Australia.
Adani Mining CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj has faced scrutiny for failing to disclose a company he ran in Africa was guilty of serious environmental breaches, despite being asked to do so by Australia’s Federal Environment Department.
Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham has expressed confidence Adani will operate its Australian mine safely and the Great Barrier Reef will be protected.
HOW BIG IS THE MINE?
The 45km Carmichael mine will be built in the Galilee Basin, west of Rockhampton.
It will be Australia’s largest coalmine, and one of the world’s biggest, with six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines.
The Queensland Government estimates its lifespan between 25 and 60 years.
The newly approved 31.5km of permanent rail line will form part of a 389km heavy haul line to the Abbot Point port, off Bowen, south of Townsville. Coal trains will run 24/7.
WHERE WILL THE COAL GO?
The mine will supply Indian power plants with coal to generate electricity for up to 100m people.
HOW MANY JOBS?
Adani estimates the entire project will create 10,000 jobs through direct and indirect employment. That includes a workers’ village with up to 2000 beds.
The company predicts the first stage of construction will provide more than 500 positions, mainly for planners and engineers.
Once operational, it estimates the mine will provide 2500-3000 fulltime jobs. Environmental groups dispute this; they argue fewer than 1500 jobs could be created.
WHAT DO OPPONENTS CLAIM?
Environmental groups have listed many concerns about the mine’s impact on the reef and the expansion of Australia’s coal sector.
Greens say it will condemn the reef to worse bleaching (scientists yesterday reported the worst-ever outbreak, and Unesco is considering putting the reef on the endangered list).
Environmental groups say far from creating work, it jeopardises 70,000 tourism-related jobs, mostly associated with the reef.
The project affects four native title/Aboriginal areas and will destroy indigenous land rights.
Opponents accuse state and federal governments of overlooking Adani’s record in ecological issues around the world and say approving the mine is incompatible with Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Adani estimates the project will generate at least $16.5b for the Australian economy. That depends on the mine’s lifespan.
The Queensland Government expects to receive many millions of dollars in royalties to spend on upgrades for schools, hospitals and roads.
WHEN WILL CONSTRUCTION START?
Adani hopes work will start in the first half of next year.