Adani’s approval to take 12.5 billion litres of water a year from Queensland’s Suttor River for their Carmichael coal mine has been overturned, after the Federal Court, on May 25, ruled the Morrison government had made an error of law by not applying the ‘water trigger’ to Adani’s approval.
The water trigger is applied when the Federal Environment Minister believes a major coal mine or coal seam gas project – both notoriously heavy users of water – will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on a water resource. Environment Minister Sussan Ley chose not to apply the water trigger in this case. The 12.5 billion litres would have been used to wash coal and suppress coal dust.
"This is a great win for the protection of water on our dry continent from coal mining and coal seam gas extraction"
The case was brought before the court by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), through the Environmental Defender’s Office. “This is a great win for the protection of water on our dry continent from coalmining and coal seam gas extraction,” said ACF’s Kelly O’Shanassy. “It’s a win for regional communities and farmers who depend on reliable flows of river water in our drought-prone landscape.”
The decision now throws into doubt the viability of the entire Carmichael Mine project. “This decision raises more doubts about the viability of Adani’s mine,” said O’Shanassy. “Without the North Galilee Water Scheme, it’s hard to see how Adani has enough water to operate its mine.” The ACF also believes yesterday’s decision sets a precedent for Adani’s other water sources at the Carmichael site, which is set to be the biggest coalmine in the Southern Hemisphere.
The decision effectively sends Adani’s water proposal back to the Environment Minister for a third time. Previously, the ACF successfully challenged the proposal approval in the Federal Court over not properly considering public submissions.
Find out more at Australian Conservation Foundation and Stop Adani