Carmichael coalmine: Adani’s own modelling reveals water permit shortfall
Adani does not hold water permits with sufficient capacity to supply the initial construction phase of the Carmichael coal project, based on its own modelling of water consumption.
The company has repeatedly stated it is “ready to start” building the mine and has publicly sought to blame the Queensland government for delays in approving necessary management plans.
But environmental groups say a shortfall in the capacity of the company’s water permits is evidence the company’s readiness claims are “bogus” and designed to heap political pressure on decision-makers.
Publicly available Queensland government information shows Adani holds two short-term water permits, for Mistake Creek and the Belyando River, which expire in April and June this year.
Those permits allow the company to take a combined 1775 megalitres of water.
Documents released under freedom of information laws show Adani’s own modelling, completed by consultant CDM Smith, estimates the Carmichael mine will require 3358ML during the first year of construction.
Carmel Flint, from the environmental group Lock the Gate, said the new information suggested Adani “does not have the water permits it needs to construct the mine, which is more evidence Adani’s claims that it is ready to start work are bogus”.
“It’s clear Adani has created a fake urgency for approvals in the lead-up to the election, and the company got exactly what it wanted: a rushed approval from Scott Morrison’s government which was tainted by political interference,” Flint said.
In a statement, Adani said it had the necessary water permits required “for mining operations” but did not specifically address the project’s construction phase.
“It is standard for major projects to regularly update their required permits and licences for on-site and off-site construction and operational activities, and in this process Adani Mining expects to be treated like any other Queensland mining company.”
Adani said there were additional potential water sources for the mine site, including groundwater, rain water and recycled water.
The former Queensland government general manager of water allocation and planning, Tom Crothers, said the water Adani could access without additional permits would be “no more than a puddle” and “nowhere near enough” to make up the shortfall.
Adani’s claims it is ready to begin construction of the Carmichael coalmine have made the project a prominent issue on the federal election campaign trail.
The federal environment minister, Melissa Price, approved Adani’s groundwater plans in the days before the government entered caretaker mode.
The approval allowed LNP politicians and candidates in Queensland to claim the project is being delayed by the state Labor government, because key management plans still require state approval.
In that context, Adani has heaped on pressure by ramping-up an advertising campaign, including billboards, print advertisements and letterbox drops, that attack the Queensland government for “moving the goalposts”.
Adani told Guardian Australia in March: “We are not engaged in political advertising.
“The intent of our communication campaign is to inform the people of Queensland about the true status of our project.”