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New drone footage and high-resolution satellite imagery allegedly shows evidence of illegal work being done at Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project, according to environmental group Coast and Country.
- Adani allegedly conducted illegal ground work, including clearing of the potential habitat of the endangered black-throated finch
- Environmental group Coast and Country has requested an urgent investigation by Queensland’s Environment Department
- Adani says all its work has been conducted legally and the allegations are an attempt to damage the company’s reputation
The group has written to Queensland’s Environment Department requesting an urgent investigation.
The allegations include that Adani conducted significant ground work at 19 locations over a total area of 2.75 hectares.
This included the clearing of the potential habitat of an endangered bird to create new drill pads and access tracks.
“The imagery shows drill rigs and other heavy machinery undertaking activities on the sites that Adani have unlawfully cleared,” Coast and Country’s Derec Davies said.
“They’ve put in place water storage facilities and they’ve adjoined these areas with a series of tracks and roads and all of this is done in potential black-throated finch habitat.”
Jo-Anne Bragg, a solicitor from the Environmental Defender’s Office, is acting for Coast and Country. She claims the footage and imagery shows Adani is breaching its environmental authority by performing works deemed stage two activities.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.VIDEO: Drone footage shows roads and clearings on Adani’s Carmichael coal mine site. (ABC News)
“I’ve read Adani’s environmental authority and I’ve read the definition of stage two site works. All of this work is clearly stage two site work, which they should not be doing in the absence of their approvals,” Ms Bragg said.
“By contrast, stage one work is maintaining existing roads, it’s minor works [and] this is not what’s being shown by the satellite imagery.”
In a statement, Queensland’s Environment Department confirmed it had receivedthe allegations but was yet to determine if they warranted an investigation.
Adani has denied the allegations, telling the ABC in a statement the work fits within the definition of stage one and it is complying with the conditions of the project’s approvals.
“All works conducted onsite are legal and in line with our stage one approvals, including all footage and imagery in our own videos which we regularly share on our social media channels,” Adani’s statement said.
“The claims made by Coast and Country have no factual basis and are nothing more than an attempt to damage the reputation of Adani and the Carmichael Project.”
Federal Nationals MP Michelle Landry, who holds the Central Queensland seat of Capricornia, is a strong backer of Adani’s mine. She doubts Coast and Country’s claims are true.
“Look, this group in particular does not want this project to go ahead and we’ve had a lot of discussions with [Adani Australia CEO] Lucas Dow about what’s going on out there, and I would believe what he says,” Ms Landry told 7.30.
“I’ve been out there myself and they’re very strict on what they do out there.”
Promise of thousands of jobs
The Queensland Environment Department is still investigating another alleged breach which was raised last September by the ABC.
The claims, which are also denied by Adani, include that it sunk six dewatering bores on the mine site.
Dewatering bores are used in mining operations to depressurise the coal seam and lower groundwater levels for open cut and underground operations.
The Indian mining company believes it could be just weeks away from starting construction at the Carmichael coal mine, more than nine years after it was first proposed.
Last week its black-throated finch management plan was signed off on by the Queensland Environment Department and it is now waiting for a decision on its groundwater management plan.
Supporters of the mine, like Michael McMillan from Townsville Enterprise, say it cannot come soon enough.
“As the peak economic body for North Queensland, I think Townsville Enterprise welcomes the opportunity to see this mine get established and to see the Galilee Basin be a major contributor to the north Queensland economy moving forward,” he said.
Once construction begins, Adani estimates the mine will generate 1,500 direct and 6,700 indirect jobs, but it has not said exactly how many permanent jobs will remain once production starts.
Mr McMillan said the people of Townsville would be watching closely to ensure the local community benefited substantially from those jobs.
“We’re expecting a large proportion of those,” he said.
“Adani as an organisation has been very proactive in working with the local community here in town.
“This community will hold the organisation to account in delivering against those jobs.”
Ms Landry said she hoped the Adani mine would generate more jobs than the company had estimated.
“I’d like to see a few more myself because I think we’re really reliant on this mine to get major jobs going, but it will depend on the stages of the construction of the mine,” she said.
“This is going to be absolutely huge and I think it’s very important for Central Queensland that we get this up and going. People are waiting for this to happen.”
But conservationists are calling on the Queensland Environment Department to issue an environmental protection order to stop work if a breach is found.
“The department can and should issue an environmental protection order requiring Adani to stop breaching its environmental conditions of approval, and to restore and rehabilitate those areas where there’s persuasive evidence they’ve been unlawfully cleared,” Ms Bragg said.
Mr Dow declined an interview request from 7.30.