So much damage, so little gain

imagesOnce again, the sanity of our leaders must be called into question. This time, the Federal government (following the example of our State government earlier in the month) has given the tick of approval to the Carmichael mine, a 60 million tonnes per annum thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin that would export through Abbot Point.

Carmichael is one of the reasons that the Abbot Point port’s operator, State (that’s us)-owned North Queensland Bulk Ports, is wanting to dredge and dump 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The outpouring from conservation groups was immediate. Read the comments below, talk to you family and friends about what is happening, call you local Federal member – heck, call the PM. We cannot allow such long-term damage for such little (any?) gain for so few.

Greenpeace pointed out that the mine would require clearing 28,000 hectares of bushland; bulldozing some of the last remaining habitat for the critically endangered black throated finch (southern); having an impact on a total of 60 threatened species; and extracting 12 billion litres annually from local rivers and aquifers.

Mackay Conservation Group called into question Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s plan to forcibly buy up land for the rail lines to ship the coal from the mine to the Abbot Point port.

Lock the Gate said the “Environment Minister Greg Hunt has ignored his own panel of top water scientists and is putting the Great Artesian Basin at further risk by allowing mine dewatering to drain the Basin”, adding “Adani has a dreadful history of environmental vandalism yet both the state and federal government choose to ignore this”

The Australian Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said: “It’s not surprising that Minister Hunt is going along with Premier Newman and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s desire to facilitate foreign firms in their efforts to try to prop up Australia’s declining coal industry.

“Ironically, if this project proceeds, it will actually accelerate the longer term destruction of Australia’s coal export industry by dramatically expanding the capital invested whilst at the same time driving coal prices down globally.

“Global coal prices are already depressed due to excess supply. If the Carmichael project proceeds, it will potentially open up access to another nine mine proposals with a combined thermal coal capacity of up to 300 million tonnes per annum. Our analysis forecasts that this would drive down thermal coal export prices a further 10-20%, thereby squeezing coal sector profit margins which are already down to zero.”

And, of course, NQCC was in there, putting out the following release:

The Federal government’s approval of the 60 million tonnes a year Carmichael thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin has the potential to damage the Great Artesian Basin as well as the Great Barrier Reef, and makes a mockery of the Environmental Impact Assessment project, according to North Queensland Conservation Council.

Coal from the proposed mine would be exported by way of an expanded port at Abbot Point by the Indian-based company Adani.

‘The Federal Minister for the Environment claims that he has put ‘strict conditions’ on this approval but, when many of these conditions call for basic research on the impact of the mine, one questions why approval was given in the first place’, said NQCC Coordinator Wendy Tubman. ‘Conditions are a smokescreen. How many approvals are withdrawn in the light of post-approval research? How many projects shut down if conditions not met?

‘The increasing trend for government approval being given before the impacts of proposals are well understood must be of concern to all Queenslanders and Australians.

‘In this case we are looking at a huge coal mine with the known potential to damage our major water supply, the Great Artesian Basin, much of our valuable agricultural land, as well as the Reef.

‘The proponents claim that the mine will have a 90 year life, but who really believes that the coal industry will last that long? The Australian Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has recently reported that ‘Global investment analysis from HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Bernstein Research, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have all confirmed that coal demand is slowing, and will continue to do so’.

‘Why are our governments helping this dying, damaging industry destroy our natural assets and contribute significantly to global climate change?’