Australia: the mega coal mine will have unlimited access to water

A 60-year concession to withdraw all the water it will need, without any limit. This is the latest gift from Australia to the mega Carmichael coal mine in the Queensland hinterland. The quarry, in the hands of the Indian mining giant Adani , already had several environmental concerns on its shoulders.

With a planned extension of over 200 square kilometers , Australia’s largest mine directly threatens soil, water and atmosphere. At full capacity, approximately 60 million tons of thermal coal per year should be extracted which, due to Adani’s own admission, mean the release of over 200 million tons of CO2 during the planned 60 years of life ( independent reports have revised up these figures ).

But the most worrying aspect is certainly that related to water security . The license, signed in these days by a representative of the government of Queensland, grants the company to withdraw water from the training area (or in the vicinity) of the Betts Creek for drainage operations until 2077, recognizing that this will have ” a impact on groundwater levels ”. Impact that will not end with the closure of the mine.

Australia: the mega coal mine will have unlimited access to water
How much water are we talking about? Difficult to say: in the supplementary environmental impact statement (SEIS) there is talk of a demand in the order of 26 million liters per day, and about 355 billion during the whole life, but it is likely that the figure will be exceeded. And the concession does not place limits on the withdrawal activities , but only asks Adani to monitor the effects and provide for compensation agreements in case of damage.

It is, as many environmentalists have pointed out, a sort of “favorable treatment” since the project was exempted from any exam measures normally provided for by the Water Act.

“There are obviously serious implications, if we use groundwater, then it will not be available for other more sustainable or long-term uses ,” said Jo-Anne Bragg, CEO of the Queensland Environment Defenders Office. ” This would mean irreversible consequences.”

Documents viewed by the Sydney Morning Herald suggest the thirst of the mega coal mine could be even bigger: they show a parallel project – nicknamed “North Galilee Water Scheme ” – with which it would be trying to build a collecting dam on the nearby river Suttor.

Before receiving government concessions, Adani waited almost six years. If years in which there have been environmental impact assessments and lawsuits filed by environmentalists and local Aboriginal tribes. The area is a natural habitat for some protected animals such as the emu and the echidna, and sacred trees for the Wangan and Jagalingou culture. The project also includes a massive expansion of the port of Abbot Point in front of the Great Barrier Reef . This will involve dredging the seabed, directly threatening an ecosystem that is already in full suffering .