Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Sydney Action to Save the Reef' (Photo:  Kate Ausburn)

'Climate Criminality': Australia OKs Biggest Coal Mine

Environmental groups slam decision that will 'dump on' Great Barrier Reef, fuel climate crisis

In a decision criticized as "climate criminality," Australia's federal government announced Monday that it has given the OK to the country's biggest coal mine.

The announcement comes less than three months after the state of Queensland gave its approval to the project.

"With this decision," wrote Ben Pearson, head of programs for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, "the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest."

“Off the back of repealing effective action on climate change," stated Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters, referring to the scrapping of the carbon tax, "the Abbott Government has ticked off on a proposal for Australia’s biggest coal mine to cook the planet and turn our Reef into a super highway for coal ships.”

Adani Mining expects its Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project in Queensland's Galilee Basin to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year, most of which will be sent to India. A rail line will be created from the mine to a new coal port terminal, an expansion which means up to 3 million meters of dredging waste will be dumped in the area of the World Heritage-listed Reef.

UNESCO "noted with concern" (pdf) in April the prospect of additional dredging that would negatively impact the Reef and warned that the site could be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The approval for the Carmichael project came from Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt with "36 strict conditions"—conditions that did nothing to allay the environmental fears raised by critics.

“History will look back on the Abbott Government’s decision today as an act of climate criminality."
—Senator Larissa Waters
Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Manager for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, stated that the conditions would be "laughable, if they weren’t so serious."

Wishart also accused the Queensland and federal government of "watering down environmental protections and fast-tracking approvals for new ports and LNG plants on the Great Barrier Reef."

“The Federal government has fast-tracked industrialization along the Reef because it is too close to the mining industry," she stated.

Pearson also admonished the close ties, saying in a statement, "The Federal Environment Minister has laid out the red carpet for a coal company with a shocking track record to dig up the outback, dump on the Great Barrier Reef and fuel climate change."

Amongst Greenpeace's list of why the project shouldn't go ahead is that

[t]he mine would steal precious water. The mine requires 12 gigaliters (12 billion liters) of water each year from local rivers and underground aquifers. That’s enough drinking water for every Queenslander for three years. Even ten kilometers away, water tables are expected to drop by over one meter.

In addition to the dangers of dredging up the sea-bed, the list adds:

The burning of coal from Carmichael mine would produce four times the fossil fuel emissions of New Zealand. It is a catastrophe for the climate.

“History will look back on the Abbott Government’s decision today as an act of climate criminality," Waters stated.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific created this infographic to highlight what the group sees as risks the Carmichael mine poses:

Adani's Carmichael Mine


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

EU Parliament Overwhelmingly Votes to End Caged Animal Farming

1.4 million people across Europe signed a petition to "End the Cage Age," and MEPs are now calling for a ban by 2027.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


Frontline Foe of Formosa Plastics Plant in 'Cancer Alley' Among 2021 Winners of 'Green Nobels'

Sharon Lavigne, the North American recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, is being recognized for stopping construction of a plastics manufacturing plant in her Louisiana community.

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


50+ Groups Urge Biden to Swiftly Fill Open Seat on FCC to Remedy Digital Divide, Restore Net Neutrality

"If we are to reach the goal of having a country where everyone, no matter their address or size of their bank account, has affordable access to high-speed internet, we need a full commission as soon as possible."

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·


Press Freedom Advocates Say 'Congress Needs to Act' to Prevent More DOJ Spying Abuses—Under Both Parties

"Many people already forget that before Trump was known as enemy number one of press freedom, Barack Obama's Justice Department did more damage to reporters' rights than any administration since Nixon."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Rev. Barber Says West Virginians Are Ready for 'Non-Violent Sit-Ins' Against Manchin for Abetting GOP Voter Suppression

"This is a moral issue, a constitutional issue, and we're gonna stand and fight against it—even if we gotta go to jail."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·