The Adani mine, or Carmichael Coal mine, is a proposed MEGA mine on the lands of Wangan and Jagalingou peoples in central north Queensland. It is the first of nine mines proposed for the Galilee Basin.
If we allow this mine to go ahead, it WILL threaten the local environment, the Great Barrier Reef and the planet. It will NOT provide many jobs for Queenslanders and it will not provide much revenue for Queensland or Australia. The Adani mine just makes no sense.
Mining and burning coal for energy is outdated
The Galilee Basin is a thermal coal basin, one of the largest untapped reserves of coal in the world. There is no such thing as “clean coal”: coal has high emissions, is not affordable and not reliable. If the mega mines in the Galilee Basin proceed, they would potentially add 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere per year, representing the world’s seventh biggest contributor to emissions. We simply must stop mining and burning Fossil Fuels.
Renewables in Australia have been shown to be reliable and cheap, but the governments and power companies want us to think that renewables are only for the rich. Smarter energy use and renewables are the answer to the energy crisis in Australia and India …and everywhere else.
The economics of this coal mine for local people and Queensland don’t add up.
While the tourism industry of central and northern Queensland provides 70,000 jobs, mining actually creates very few. Adani originally claimed it would provide 10,000 jobs, but Adani’s own economist stated in the Queensland Land Court that “…over the life of the project it is projected that on average around 1,464 … jobs will be created”. What does this actually mean? Very few jobs. (Read here). Jobs in mining are disappearing with the advent of new technologies such as driverless trucks, or moving to positions in cities.
Coal royalties account for only 4% of the State’s revenue. And rural Queenslanders suffer from the boom and bust cycle of resource extraction and especially NOW as investment in the mining sector has effectively halted. As coal fired power plants are phased out, a just transition must be found for workers and local communities in the inevitable shift to renewables.
There is no consent from Traditional landowners to mine
Aboriginal Traditional Owners – represented by the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council – say proceeding with the proposed mine would irrevocably destroy their country and culture. The Traditional Owners opposing the mine argue that the company paid off vulnerable people to entice them to make an agreement and then offered insignificant compensation for social and environmental impact of the mine’s activities.
The Adani case has highlighted many of the problems of agreement-making between Indigenous groups and mining companies. One is that Indigenous citizens have little to no support from government when and if they say NO to a new mine, against a driving principal in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: that development decisions should be subject to “free, prior and informed consent” (Info on this here).
The global resource economics behind mining coal don’t add up.
Proponents and others of this mine have argued that India’s growing energy demand, and the Indian people will benefit from Queensland coal. But global economists have argued that the decline in global demand for coal is “structural rather than cyclical”. That is, India is likely to move away from coal, just as China has already begun to. And anyway, why should India settle for dirty energy?
Energy researchers recently reported findings that “the economic profile of many energy-poor states in India was unsuited to supporting coal-fired power” and solar had better long term viability.
This MEGA coal mine would use Megalitres of water
Groundwater laws passed by the Queensland government in November 2016 (copy of the Bill) require miners to seek a license to extract subterranean sources. But Adani were made exempt. Farmers and graziers rely on groundwater for their livelihoods and how water is managed matters to all of us.
Primary producers have begun asking questions about why the government seems unconcerned about impacts on groundwater. If Adani goes ahead, other proposed coal mines in the Galilee Basin are more likely to be approved. A report about water use in the Galillee Basin estimated that 1,770 Gigalitres of groundwater over the life of the mine would be extracted (updates on figures). We could imagine this volume in terms of 4 Sydney Harbours, or more than 700 years of farming and domestic supplies. Groundwater levels are estimated to drop between 5 and 70 metres as a result of extraction. That range within the estimate is a clue to the lack of knowledge we have about how underground water behaves. How can we justify allowing such massive extraction with unknown consequences?
Adani – the company – is dodgy! (See “Adani files” )
Based on their previous actions, Adani can’t be trusted to make good on loans from the Australian public purse and cannot be trusted to look after the Great Barrier Reef through which they plan to ship coal. The company has a history of environmental breaches, negative impacts on local communities and disregard for social and environmental regulations relating to its coal port and coal fired power plants in India.
Adani companies are under investigation in India for tax fraud, tax evasion and price fixing (see ABC report). The company has been accused of appalling labour practices. The company and its many subsidiaries use tax havens in the Cayman Islands to hide assets. Adani has been involved in bribery scandals. Adani can’t be trusted to look after workers or local suppliers with whom they propose to do business.
Why are governments so keen to make this mine happen?
The Gallilee coal mines have been considered too financially risky, too big, and had too much low grade coal. Why are state and federal governments pursuing this?
Why did the Queensland Government declare the Adani mine “critical”, fast-tracking the mine’s approval processes? Why has Adani been given a free pass on new water laws?
Why has the Federal Government promised to loan Adani $1 billion in public money to build a rail line from mine to port? This will come from the “Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility” (NAIF), but there have been significant questions raised about whether the handout is possible given the limits on this statutory body’s resources, whether it follows the mandate of NAIF or even meets NAIF’s own policies.
The Adani coal mine stands for ecocide. Why continue a reliance on fossil fuels when there is the capacity, the technology and the need to shift gear into renewable energy sources? We must sustain energy needs through a national policy on renewables.
The Adani coal mine stands for a government that supports the interests of transnational capital over the interests and demands of citizens. Let’s move to protect citizens rights to water, land and air, as well as their right to decent jobs.
The Adani coal mine stands for the refusal to address growing social inequalities between Australians and Indigenous communities. Let’s rethink all new mines on Aboriginal lands.
The social, political, environmental and economic issues of the Adani mine are happening across scales and times – this complexity means that we have to address the local and global problems one by one AND all together.