BIG READ: Adani and the Great Artesian Basin water concerns
A NUMBER of people including farmers and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have raised concerns regarding the Adani Carmichael Mine's access to the Great Artesian Basin.
Mr Shorten said his party was looking at the Adani matter very closely and if it doesn't stack up environmentally "it would absolutely not receive their support".
"Others have pointed to me the concern about the Great Artesian Basin and the lack of clarity about whether or not the open cut processes of Adani will in fact, interfere with the Great Artesian Basin," Mr Shorten said.
The Morning Bulletin understands that the water sampling investigation was still under way, the project does not yet have all of its approvals, there are still four outstanding plans which needed to be approved by the Environment Minister before Adani can start mining, Adani's plan for managing groundwater was yet to be approved and they still needed to submit information on how the mine will impact the Great Artesian Basin.
Ground water concerns are high in the mind of Queensland graziers Angus Emmott and William Graham who, supported by Farmers for Climate Action, distributed two petitions with a combined total of over 150,000 signatures to all 93 members of the Queensland parliament calling on the government to protect grazing land and water resources.
The petition called on the Queensland Premier to rescind the unlimited 60 year groundwater licence granted to the Adani Carmichael project.
"Australia's future lies in clean energy, clean water and clean food - not in the bottomless pit of a thermal coal mine," Mr Emmott said.
"Groundwater is the lifeblood of Central and Western Queensland, and agriculture is the backbone of our region. It's time for all sides of politics to put the interests of farmers and graziers, and the long term sustainable future for regional Queensland ahead of the short term interests of mining companies."
An Adani Australia spokesperson sought to allay ground water concerns saying that Carmichael Coal project undertook detailed environmental impact assessment processes over five years, open to public and government scrutiny and consultation.
"Experts in their technical fields undertook detailed studies, many of which were subsequently reviewed by third party experts," the spokesperson said.
"After careful consideration by relevant State and Federal Government agencies, the Carmichael Project was approved with the strictest environmental conditions ever imposed on a mining project in Australia.
"We have received 112 approvals, all subject to conditions governing environmental and social aspects of mine, port and rail construction and operations.
"The Carmichael Project is approved and we have commenced the project and requirements under those approvals."
The spokesperson moved to set the record straight that Adani Australia in fact "does not have access to unlimited water".
"Our license only allows us to take and reuse associated water that is encountered during normal mining operations," they said.
"Associated water is the water that flows into the mine from the coal seams and the ground that separates them (interburden) as the mine progresses.
"This water usage is necessary on most mine sites to achieve safe operations."
Adani said they would monitor groundwater surrounding the mine to ensure we do not adversely affect local water resources.
"We will pay $20 million for our surface water license," the spokesperson said.
"This will allow us to take 10,800 megalitres of flood water per year and only when the Carmichael River is in flood to ensure downstream users such as farmers have their water requirements prioritised."
The Carmichael Mine would have an indirect take from the Great Artesian Basin and Adani Australia was required to offset this under the Commonwealth approval conditions."
"As a precautionary measure, the highest annual indirect take volume is required to be offset every year for the first five years of the project," they said.
"This means five times more water will be returned to the Great Artesian Basin than used by Adani Australia."
Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said last year that multi-million dollar financial and regulatory safeguards and a stringent monitoring regime, are now in place to manage water supply in and around the $21.7 billion Carmichael coal project.
"They have to make good on agreements in place with landholders whose existing ground water entitlements might be affected," Dr Lynham said.
"There are now almost 270 conditions on this project to protect the natural environment and the interests of landholders and traditional owners.
"More than 100 of these conditions relate to groundwater.
"Most importantly, the government has the ability to require a mine to stop operations if any of these licences are breached."
Dr Lynham said every operational mine in Queensland was authorised to remove groundwater that flows into the mine to make the mine safe, and reuse it if they wish.
"This project has been through extensive scrutiny by State and Federal Governments, and the community, during public consultation and in the courts," he said.
"This project will generate thousands of jobs, as well as business opportunities in northern and central Queensland as well as royalties that will benefit the state as a whole.
"These safeguards will ensure that water resources are protected, and that this critical project progresses sustainably."