Plants of Capricornia
Adani Carmichael Coal
Carmichael Coal project presents numerous environmental hazards and is just one of six mega coal mines proposed for the 500 long Galilee Basin. If they all proceed the fragile desert uplands (including Bimblebox Nature Refuge 1) would be left with hundreds of kilometres of stream diversions, sterile waste dumps and unfilled mine pits.
Galilee Basin coal seams lie along the recharge aquifer for the Great Artesian Basin, the life blood of natural systems and food production for Central Australia. The Government’s own technical reports2 indicate the potential harm to the Great Artesian and Carmichael River.
Adani estimated they would require 12,000 megalitres of water per year to operate the mine. This water would have to be extracted from groundwater essential for sustaining nature and agriculture. Other Galilee Basin mines have sought to buy-out irrigation licences from the Fairbairn Dam; food vs. coal! The intractable problems of mine water management in the Fitzroy system would be extended to the second largest river feeding into the Great Barrier Reef, the Burdekin.
Adani’s Carmichael mine would cause the release of 20 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from its 7.8 billion tonnes of thermal coal (equivalent to 36 years of Australia’s total emissions). The toxic smogs being experienced in China are causing community alarm and increasing pressure on India to rapidly make the transition to alternative forms of energy production.
Carmichael mine and the others Galilee Basin Mines would involve diversion of hundreds of kilometres of rivers and streams. These are often the last remaining natural vegetation and wildlife corridors essential for the migration and survival of species, and for the quality of water downstream. Managing stream diversions in the Bowen Basin mines has a poor history and requires far greater scientific scrutiny before the problems and spread to yet another river basin.
Carmichael Mine and the others in the Galilee Basin pose huge technical problems for mining in the dry desert upland environment. The remoteness from the coast will require 400-500 kilometres of rail line impacting on the highly variable floodplains, the clearing of thousands of hectares of remnant vegetation housing over 50 threatened or vulnerable species of plants and animals.
The risks to the local environment, the Burdekin, a significant Great Barrier Reef catchment, the contribution to global greenhouse emissions from Carmichael and other Galilee basin mines are significant. With atmospheric CO2 already above 400ppm, around twice pre-industrial levels, we are rapidly approaching the point when coral and other calcium carbonate dependent species will struggle to survive in an increasingly acidic ocean.
Adani’s economic and social benefits are highly questionable. High grade Bowen Basin metallurgical coal mines are struggling with an accelerating global trend toward sustainable energy systems these mines would become stranded assets while leaving irreparable environmental harm. We need to catch up with the global trend before smart investors turn their backs on Australia’s 19th century powered economy.
2 Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development: Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (EPBC 2010/5736)