New laws are being introduced by the Queensland Government to change the way mining companies obtain water licences. This was originally written in the Townsville Bulletin as a “roadblock” for the project, without even naming what the proposed legislation is or about.
NQCC responded with this letter to the editor, but under a different headline (the title of this post) than what was published . Despite gaining the necessary environmental approvals at the State and Federal levels, it is not our position that the project “has the environmental green light”. This is highlighted by our support of continued legal challenges of the environmental approvals not taking into consideration the impact that emissions from burning coal will have on the Reef. We wholly support the Australian Conservation Foundation and Environmental Defenders Office appealing the recent decision of the Federal Court on this matter.
Our key point was that what is REALLY holding up the Adani project is the lack of financing. Fourteen international lending institutions have said no. The Commonwealth Bank and NAB are distancing themselves from the project, concerned about the hefty investment risks, the environmental damage unleashed by developing the Galilee Basin, and damage to their reputation if their brand is associated with continued support of fossil fuels. The Federal and State Government’s won’t give Adani any public money. The Queensland Treasury even went as far to label the project as “unbankable”.
Here's the full text of our letter:
In yesterday’s editorial (TB, 16/9) the Palaszczuk Government was criticised for “inventing new problems for Adani” by introducing new proposed laws, yet did not explain what those laws are. Allow me…
The Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) Bill reforms the process mining companies go through to gain access to groundwater. If passed, mining companies won’t have to apply for a separate water licence. They will apply for water rights as part of the Environment Authority, a process they are already subject to. Later this year the government will introduce further legislation that grants mining companies statutory rights to water, that is, free and unlimited access to groundwater.
It also protects farmers whose groundwater is impacted by the resource industry, particularly those threatened by coal seam gas extraction impairing their bores.
So how does it affect the Adani project? Well… it doesn’t. Adani already has the necessary environmental approvals. A water licence has always been required under the Water Act for underground and surface water use. This doesn’t pose an extra hurdle for the project.
What IS holding up the Adani project is a lack of financing. The world is transitioning towards a renewable energy economy, leaving coal behind. Coal prices are in terminal decline, and international lending institutions aren’t backing the project because it’s too risky an investment. Thirteen major global banks have ruled out funding Adani’s mine, as have the State and Federal government.
The 10,000 jobs that Adani claimed would be created in Queensland were found to be fudged, with their expert witness in Court conceding there would only be 1,464. Let’s compare this to the 70,000 Queensland jobs that rely on a healthy Reef, and the 1,172 jobs that are being created with the 6 new renewable projects recently announced for Kidston, Collinsville, Longreach and Dalby.
While the Adani project waits at the amber light, we should reflect on how long we want to remain on the coal train, or if we should get on the freeway to our renewable future.