By Our Correspondent
In one of its strongest warnings to the Adani Group, which has got environmental nod to go ahead with the Carmichael coal mining project in Australia, the world’s most influential green campaigners, Greenpeace, has said, “Don’t assume this is the end of the story. The Carmichael mine cannot go ahead without the financial support of one the big four Australian banks. Greenpeace will make sure every Australian knows that any bank cutting a cheque for Carmichael is making possible a monster mine that will endanger our Reef and our climate.”
The warning came close on the heels of the Australian government’s decision to approve the Adani Group’s controversial A$16.5 billion ($15.5 billion) Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland. Approved subject to strict conditions to protect groundwater, the Carmichael mine project could become Australia’s largest coal mine at 60 million tonnes a year amidst protests from green groups and marine tour operators, who are worried about carbon pollution and export of the coal from a port near the Great Barrier Reef.
“Carmichael coal mine’s impacts will be felt for generations”, Ben Pearson, Australia-Pacific programme director for Greenpeace, has said, adding, the project was approved despite the fact that Adani Group had “a dirty track record (pdf) n India”, where it “has been investigated and fined for illegally building on villagers’ land and destroying protected mangrove areas.”
Pearson recalled, “An investigation by the Karnataka anti-corruption ombudsman exposed Adani Enterprises’ active involvement in large-scale illegal exports of iron ore at its port, resulting in ‘huge’ economic losses to the Government. Documents seized from Adani’s offices revealed the company was paying cash bribes to port officials, customs, police and local pollies in exchange for ‘undue favour for illegal exports’.”
The decision was also taken, according to the Greenpeace exe, “despite global investors like Deutsche Bank and HSBC refusing to fund the mine’s associated coal port… They pledged to stay away from the project because they felt their reputation was at risk. Surely, if a German bank can see that these projects have an unacceptable impact on the Reef, Australia’s Environment Minister should be able too. And given the uncertainty about whether Carmichael will ever go ahead — and thus the new terminal — it just makes no sense to give it a tick.”
Pearson, whose reaction has been posted on the Greenpeace site, said he had “hoped” Greg Hunt, Environment Minister, “would stand up to the coal industry and reject the plea for environmental clearance. “Minister Hunt had the simple task of rejecting absurd proposals for the biggest coal mine ever proposed for Australia — the Carmichael mine — which requires a new coal export terminal and destructive dredging and dumping in our beloved Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. But for whatever reason, Hunt couldn’t do it”, he said.
“Made up of six open-cut pits and five underground mines, Carmichael mine will cover an area seven times that of Sydney Harbour. The only way to get coal out of Carmichael mine is via the Great Barrier Reef. Millions of tonnes of seabed will have to be dredged and dumped in the World Heritage Area to make way for port expansions to service this mega-mine”, said Pearson, adding, “Hunt gave the go-ahead to port expansions despite warnings from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and UNESCO that the developments would place the World Heritage Area ‘in danger’.”
“Hunt approved Carmichael mine against independent expert advice that the mine could dry up endangered springs and drain sections of the Great Artesian Basin. The outback mine, which is located in a drought-prone farming area, requires a whopping 12 billion litres of water every year (pdf)”, the Greenpeace activist said, adding, “With this decision, the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest”.