Green (Black) Light For Australia’s Largest Coal Mine

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Australia’s biggest coal mine, the $16.5 billion Carmichael Coal and Rail Project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, has been given the nod by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt; much to the dismay of environmental groups and many Australians.
    
Minister Hunt has said the project proposed by Indian company Adani could go ahead, subject to 36 conditions (PDF) designed to reduce environmental impact.
    
The Australian Greens have blasted the decision.
   
“History will look back on the Abbott Government’s decision today as an act of climate criminality,” said Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson.
  
“The Abbott Government’s claims that it has put ‘stringent’ conditions on the approval are a joke given the Auditor General last month found that the federal environment department is so under-resourced it is failing to monitor and enforce environmental conditions. Adani has a track record of non-compliance with environmental conditions in India – why take the risk with our climate and Great Barrier Reef?”
  
Greenpeace also has a list of grievances; among them, the 12 billion litres of water each year from local rivers and underground aquifers that will be needed by the operation, the 60 species at risk and the burning of coal from Carmichael mine producing four times the fossil fuel emissions of New Zealand. 
    
“It is a catastrophe for the climate,” says the group.
   
Environmental issues aside, there may be massive financial risks involved too.  
 
The Greens state Adani is already in “dire financial straits” and earlier this year an analysis found major coal projects that rely on new export markets such as India face a very uncertain future. India’s Finance Minister also recently announced plans to double the nation’s tax on coal in order to help finance renewable energy projects.
   
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) says building renewables is cheaper than constructing imported coal power capacity, they are cheaper to maintain and can be constructed more rapidly.
    
“The notion that anyone will want to buy our coal in 60 years is economic lunacy, so this project is economically foolhardy as well as an environmental disaster,” said Senator Waters.