Sounding 'Death Knell' for Reef, Massive Australian Coal Project Heads Towards Completion

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Sounding 'Death Knell' for Reef, Massive Australian Coal Project Heads Towards Completion

Indian energy giant Adani has secured approval for permanent rail line, temporary construction camp for its Carmichael project

Protesters in Melbourne following news that the Australian government may provide $1bn in funding for the rail link to complete the Carmichael coal and rail line project. (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

Indian energy giant Adani on Monday achieved a "key milestone" in completing its massive and controversial Carmichael coal mine project in Australia—a project, according to a marine conservation group, "that will super charge climate change and sound the death knell for our Reef."

The achievement comes thanks to Queensland's Coordinator-General giving "the latest, and final, secondary approval" for a permanent rail line and a temporary construction camp.

With those in place, the Australian Associated Press reports, "Construction on Australia's largest coal mine looks set to begin next year."

The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project in Queensland's Galilee Basin is slated to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year. It would be sent along the rail line to a terminal in Abbot Point, where it would be sent to India to supply power plants. As Reuters writes Monday, it "has faced years of legal delays and rollercoaster coal prices, amid strident opposition from environmentalists opposed to coal mining and concerned at the impact the mine will have on the Great Barrier Reef."

As such, AAP adds, "the news fueled a protest of about 150 people outside the commonwealth offices in Melbourne and conservationists plan to target the Townsville meeting. Australia's ABC writes that the number of protesters topped 250.

Among those in attendance was Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) campaign director Paul Sinclair, who said, "We need clean energy and a healthy reef."

Apart from environmental concerns, fueling new fury over the project is the fact that the federal government, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF), is reportedly considering a $1 billion loan to Adani to help finance the rail line.

"The final decision" on that, the Guardian reports, "could be months away."

According to ACF CEO Kelly O'Shanassy, such a loan "would be a serious misuse of public money, a breach of previous assurances and would turn NAIF into the 'Dirty Energy Finance Corporation.'"

"Any investment in coal in the 21st Century is a dud investment. Australians will lose this money and it will fund the death of the much-loved Great Barrier Reef," she said in a press statement.

Added Imogen Zethoven, campaign director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, "Poll after poll has shown that Australians do not support their money being used to prop up foreign owned mining companies such as Adani."

"The government's credibility on protecting the Reef would be shattered if this loan to foreign billionaire Adani were to be confirmed," said Zethoven.

According to ABC, "The project still needs a water license approved."

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