Australian court tosses out Adani coal mine challenge, adds pressure on govt

SYDNEY: An Australian court today rejected a bid to stop India’s Adani Enterprises building one of the world’s biggest coal mines, saying the project should go ahead provided the firm complies with a host of environmental measures.

The ruling by the Land Court of Queensland sets Adani back on track to proceed with the stalled 10 billion Australian dollars ($7 billion) project in the undeveloped Galilee Basin that could generate billions of dollars in export revenue for Australia.

However, it adds to pressure on the Australian government just days after it joined some 200 countries in signing a climate deal in Paris which is intended to curb the use of fossil fuels.

The mine got the sign-off from Environment Minister Greg Hunt in October after the company cleared concerns about two rare outback species, but a conservation group challenged the decision, saying it would contribute to climate change and spoil groundwater and the Great Barrier Reef.

Land Court President Carmel MacDonald said in the ruling that she would recommend Hunt approve the mine ‘subject to the inclusion of additional conditions in the environmental authority’, including measures to protect the endangered black-throated finch.

The conservation group which opposed the Carmichael mine, Coast and Country, said the Queensland state government could and should still block ‘the wrong mine on the wrong side of history’.

“A matter of days ago, the world signed an historic climate deal that will end the age of coal. Carmichael is the planet’s third biggest coal mine,” Coast and Country Spokesman Derec Davies said in a statement.

If the state government approves the mine it will be ‘a travesty and a betrayal of all Queenslanders and the world community’ Davies added.