Carmichael mine: still no answers on groundwater

Published: August 29, 2014

An environmental approval has been issued to what will be the country’s largest and most damaging coal mine with key information and limits on groundwater impacts still yet to be understood, according to the Lock the Gate Alliance. 

The Lock the Gate Alliance national coordinator, Phil Laird said the draft Environmental Authority (EA) released today left blank the biggest questions facing the mine – the need for strict conditions to protect precious groundwater – to be filled in later by the proponent, controversial Indian mining company, Adani. 

Mr Laird said the State Government needed to do its homework on monitoring points, baseline contaminant levels or groundwater level triggers before the EA was given, not after.

“Nearly four years after this mine was first proposed, neither Adani nor the Government has done the work to establish baseline data on groundwater, but Queensland is handing out an approval anyway, with the work to be done sometime in the future and crucial blanks in the approval to be filled in by the proponent,” he said.

“Once the region’s groundwater is depleted it will be too late to then try to fix the problem. The government must stop the problems occurring in the first place and stand up to mining companies that fail to complete basic research into the impacts of their outlandish proposals.”

Adani has admitted that the mine will cause drawdown of groundwater that feeds the Doongmabulla springs, which host numerous threatened and endemic species, and are themselves a listed threatened ecological community. Groundwater draw down by the mine will also reduce flows into the Carmichael River, a tributary of the Belyando, potentially affecting water users downstream. 

“Landholders, communities and the environment cannot survive without healthy groundwater. Handing out this approval without knowledge or control over groundwater impacts is unacceptable,” he said.

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