Indian mining giant Adani Group’s 16.5 billion dollar controversy-hit coal mine project in Australia cleared two more legal hurdles today with a Brisbane court dismissing appeals filed by environmentalists and a traditional landowner against the venture.
The full bench in Brisbane dismissed appeals by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and traditional landowner Adrian Burragubba on Friday.
The ACF argued that the environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, had not considered the effect of the mine’s emissions on the Great Barrier Reef under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act. Its case was the last remaining challenge to the mine on environmental grounds.
Burragubba had appealed against a decision by the National Native Title Tribunal that allowed the Queensland government to issue a mining lease for the proposed Galilee Basin site.
ACF campaign director Paul Sinclair said the federal court’s decision to dismiss its appeal showed Australia’s environmental laws were broken.
“Our national environmental laws don’t require our environment minister to properly evaluate the impact of 4.6bn tonnes of pollution on the Great Barrier Reef and other world heritage areas,” he said on Friday. “It’s like approving a mine for asbestos without having to consider the impact of that asbestos on the health of people.”
Sinclair said the only way the project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin could now be halted was through the “passion, commitment and determination of the Australian people”.
But the chief executive of the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland, Jo Bragg, said it could appeal over this latest ruling in the high court of Australia. “That’s an option only to be exercised rarely and which is never exercised without very careful consideration,” she said on Friday. “We’re still very much examining all aspects of the project and its lawfulness.”
The project has faced opposition from several environmental activists who had raised concerns about its impact on the local ecosystem, including the Great Barrier Reef. Many were also concerned about the lack of funding for the project. Earlier, some major banks like Germany’s Deutsch Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia had refused to participate in the controversial coal project.
The chief executive of Adani Australia, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, welcomed the federal court’s two rulings against two “dissenting” minorities in a statement on Friday. Adani, in a statement, said that today’s court rulings have reinforced its legal right to develop its Carmichael thermal coal resource.
“The decisions today are the second and third judicial decisions this week dismissing claims brought by a combination of the dissenting minority of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) People and activist groups,” the company said.
Janakaraj said the $22bn project would create “10,000 direct and indirect jobs”, with a minimum 7.5% of those going to traditional landowners.