Coal mining giant Adani says it remains committed to the controversial Carmichael mine project in Queensland. Undeterred by missing their own funding deadline in March, and still short by $3 billion before the initial stage of the project can go ahead, the company is still promising to see the project through.
While Adani has abandoned its 2020 target for beginning coal exports from the mine, and is struggling to find sufficient funding, it still remains a major environmental threat. The company is already heavily invested in constructing the mine and may be able to find funding from its home base in India.
In fact, Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakara is so confident about the project’s future that in March, he had the audacity to claim that the coal mined from Carmichael would lift Bangladesh out of poverty, where it would supply proposed coal power plants.
This is despite the fact that climate change, if it leads to just a 1 metre sea level rise, would flood 20% of this low-land country and force 30 million people to migrate. A 2 metre rise could displace 50 million. Climate change refugees are already a reality in Bangladesh, with tens or even hundreds of thousands displaced each year.
With Adani so confident of securing funding, the campaign against the project must not slacken, but instead be escalated.
This is because it is not just the Adani owned Carmichael mine that will be built in the Galilee Basin, which runs through central Queensland, but at least half a dozen other mines are proposed by numerous mining corporations and billionaires, like Clive Palmer.
Another Indian Giant, ‘GVK Hancock’, has two projects in the Galilee Basin, the $10.8 billion Alpha coal mine, and the $6 billion Kevin’s Corner mine. Although behind in development, both of them have passed through approval processes, and even if Adani’s Carmichael mine is defeated these other huge mines will have to be defeated as well.
So far, the Adani mine has been in the spotlight but if work commenced at any of these mines it would lead to an ecological disaster. It is not just the effects on climate change that these mines will have but also the damage they could cause to water sources in the region, either through contamination or overuse.
For example, the ecologically and culturally important Doongmabulla Springs Complex is under direct threat from the mine due to its close proximity to the Carmichael site. It is likely that these wetlands, significant to Wangan & Jagalingou people, are connected to the same aquifer that the mine would tap. Adani will conduct no further scientific analysis to determine if their proposed mine will use the same source.
Given that Adani want to take 4.5 billion litres of water a year, and has unlimited water access, it could drain the Doongmabulla Springs dry if allowed to proceed. In fact, all of the proposed mines in the Galilee Basin jeopardise the water security of the arid and drought-prone area. They have the potential to ruin farmers and graziers in the food producing region.
Partly because of these concerns over water, opposition to the mine is continuing to grow. For example, the Lock the Gate Alliance hosted meetings throughout April in regional Queensland in an attempt to step up their organising efforts against Adani.
The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) recently wrote an open letter criticising the proposed mines in the Galilee Basin based on environment concerns, while in mid-April Tweed Council in NSW joined Lismore and Byron Councils in rejecting any dealings with businesses involved with the Adani mine.
Small actions like this can be important, but if the Galilee basin mines are to be stopped then an alliance of ordinary people from the city and country, environmentalists, community and indigenous groups must be built. Most importantly the trade unions must change their position and come out against the mine.
While regional Queensland is desperate for jobs, we should not accept the bosses’ logic that the only jobs available are in the dirty coal industry. We must demand jobs in the renewable energy sector and in the construction of socially useful infrastructure.
An alliance of the various community groups and the trade unions, prepared to engage in direct action, could stop all the Galilee Basin mines in their tracks while setting a new political agenda that puts people and the environment before big business profits.
By Dane Letcher