Adani Australia chief executive Lucas Dow on site
Adani Australia chief executive Lucas Dow on site Christine McKee

Adani groundwater plan approved

ADANI's final hurdle, the groundwater dependent ecosystem management plan has been approved by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

Adani submitted its most recent version of its plan to the DES on Thursday, addressing the department's last minute feedback handed down on Tuesday.

However, it appears the amendments have been successful with the DES approving the plan.

Adani CEO Lucas Dow was wasting no time and said the company would be finalising contracts "over the coming days".


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"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," he said.

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

Mr Dow also took the opportunity to cement the commitment of 1,500 direct jobs.

"The project will deliver 1,500 direct and 6,750 indirect jobs during ramp up and construction, with Rockhampton and Townsville the primary hubs for employment," he said.

"The Whitsunday, Isaac, Central Highlands, Mackay, Charters Towers and Gladstone regions will also benefit from work packages and employment opportunities."

WE’RE READY: Clermont Adani supporters Peter Pavey, Jenny Pongratz, Kel Appleton, Keely McLean (with baby Isabella), Roger Vine, Harrison Maggs, Brodie Perry and Chris McLean. Picture: Lachie Millard
WE’RE READY: Clermont Adani supporters Peter Pavey, Jenny Pongratz, Kel Appleton, Keely McLean (with baby Isabella), Roger Vine, Harrison Maggs, Brodie Perry and Chris McLean. Picture: Lachie Millard

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Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Margaret Strelow held high hopes for the prospective jobs during the lead up to the approval and said it was "the news we were all waiting for."

"My ambition is that Rockhampton will be the 'go to' place for the whole Galilee Basin, and this news today is the foundation on which we will build," she said.

"I sincerely congratulate the team at Adani for taking the Carmichael project to commencement and we look forward to supporting the mine as it begins its construction phase."

Perhaps the most fierce advocate of the Carmichael mine, Resource Minister Matt Canavan released a statement said today marked "a historic day for Queensland."

"When the Bowen Basin opened in the 1960s, it transformed Central Queensland," Senator Canavan said.

"Opening up a new basin in Galilee promises similar development and opportunity."

Construction equipment arrives at the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine
Construction equipment arrives at the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine Cath Friel

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Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said the decision was a big step toward a full scale expansion of the Galilee Basin.

In a statement, the DES described the "rigorous" process "based on the best available science."

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

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

"Based on this advice, DES is satisfied that the GDEMP sufficiently establishes the main source aquifer of the springs as the Clematis Sandstone."

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However conservation groups were still not convinced by the miner's environmental approval.

Greenpeace labelled the approval a "slap in the face of common sense" while Mackay Conservation Group community organiser Emma Barrett said: "Today's decision has ignored expert warnings that Adani's mine could permanently damage Queensland's groundwater."

The Lock the Gate Alliance member and Central Queensland grazier Bruce Currie, whose groundwater supposedly will be put at risk, said it was a kick in the teeth for all primary producers operating in the Galilee Basin.

"State and Federal politicians have ignored the scientists and pleas of farmers who are acutely aware of how much damage Adani's mine will have on vital underground water resources, including the Great Artesian Basin," he said.

Dr Bob Brown, who campaigned against the mine with the Stop Adani Convoy in late April went as far as to label the entire process as "corrupted."

Adani road works underway at Carmichael Mine
Adani road works underway at Carmichael Mine Roslyn Budd

"Australia's environmental processes are a farce and today's anti-science decision shows it up," he said.

But the environmental work for the miner does with this approval.

The DES now require additional commitments from Adani to undertake further scientific work over the next two years.

The Additional commitments in the approved GDEMP include:

  • Further work to improve the understanding of the source aquifers of springs in the locality, particularly the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, including:
  • Undertaking detailed hydrogeochemical analysis of groundwater and spring samples from different springs within each spring complex
  • Undertaking isotopic analysis (including noble, radioactive gases and strontium isotopes where isotopic analysis is not sufficient) 
  • Examining core samples from new bores to attain a better understanding of hydraulic properties and provide detailed geological mapping
  • Incorporating air-borne electro-magnetic modelling undertaken by Geoscience Australia to improve hydrogeological understanding of the area.
  • Using a bore in the Dunda Beds (also known as the Rewan Formation) as an early warning trigger for groundwater drawdown monitoring in the Carmichael River. 
  • Additional measures in the GDEMP also address concerns raised last week by Flinders University scientists that the Permian aquifers should not be ruled out as a Doongmabulla Springs Complex source.

The department required Adani to install a new bore below the Rewan Formation, near the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, to assist in determining if the Permian aquifers form a source for the springs.

Adani is also required to undergo on going reviews of hydrological, hydrochemistry analyses and seismic information, and review seismic information pertaining underground mining impacts.

Further seismic studies may also need to be undertaken.

The department said underground mining will not go ahead until these actions are completed, and only if predicted impacts are consistent with approved impacts.

The GDEMP is the second of the two environmental management plans with the second being the black-throated finch management plan approved on May 31.

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