Carmichael Coal Mine

By Patrick Brogan

The Carmichael coal, rail and port project will require a big investment in infrastructure and will boost the Australian economy, but not everybody is happy about the proposed plans.

A Politician’s Dream

In the words of Adani Australia, the company behind the proposed operation; “The Carmichael coal, railway and port project includes building Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the north Galilee Basin approximately 160km north-west of Clermont in Central Queensland, linked by a new 388 km standard gauge rail line to a new terminal at Abbot Point Port near Bowen. The combined mine, rail and port operations will provide over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and supply opportunities for local businesses.” The company also says that the mining will generate $22 billion in taxes that will benefit the local area and Queensland as a whole.  In short, Adani Australia wants coal and is willing to build a new railway and this will in turn benefit the wider Australian economy.   

And the Land Down Under is in need of an economic shot in the arm, which is why a lot of politicians are getting behind this venture. In the last quarter, the Australian economy shrank by .5%, leading many to worry about a recession. This has put federal spending under further pressure. This why politicians like Barnaby Joyce, just reflect on how glorious a name that is — he would make a great author–, has said he wants to “get the thing built and get the money flowing”, as told in The Guardian. Much of Queensland’s economy in the past was based on the development of natural resources and people like Joyce see the Adani mines as a continuation of this. It’s similar to the pioneer nature of the Wild West.

A politician’s job for the most part is to seek solutions. There are many that believe that this course of action is not a solution and will lead to more problems. Many have protested against the opening of the mines and railroad and their concerns vary from environmental, indigenous rights and political.

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Much of Australia's natural beauty will be under threat

An Environmental Catastrophy

Yes, the environment again. This is a contentious issue, especially in Australia. Aussies are widely acknowledged to be ahead of the global average when it comes to green issues. Imagine their sorrow when they look at the destruction of one of the world’s premier natural locations, the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is under serious pressure. El Niño, global warming, dredging, water pollution and sediment build-up from deforestation are all combining to bleach the reef. Unesco has warned the government that this natural beauty will be put on the in-danger list. The building of the Adani mine will see an increase in pollution and is the worst possible news for those that are looking to prevent global warming. The irony of this is 70,000 jobs are dependent on the Great Barrier Reef and it is worth $6 billion a year. When the barrier is destroyed it will impact hugely on the Aussie economy.

The coal will cause the spewing of billions of tonnes entering the atmosphere. Many might not agree with climate change. How could the release of so much carbon into the atmosphere not have an effect on the Earth’s climate? Venus is much hotter than Earth and that’s because most of its atmosphere is comprised of mainly greenhouse gases as well as its proximity to the Sun. There are vast amounts of methane stored within the frozen expanses of Russia. Should this methane be released and escape into the atmosphere there may be no turning back. Methane is a more effective at retaining heat than carbon is. We are on the precipice.

There has been no shortage of protesters campaigning on environmental grounds.The Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Anthony Lynham, said the mines will not negatively impact the environment claiming; “There are 200 stringent conditions placed on this project through its court processes. We can have jobs and economic prosperity for the north as well as protecting the Great Barrier Reef”. These include a standard on water quality and restrictions on dredging, but this seems like papering over the cracks.

The Indigenous People

The Wangan and Jagalingou people are also displeased about the mine development. They argue that the Queensland Government is denying them their native title (property rights) and other rights. Native people being disposed of their land so a billion dollar company can plunder the natural resources? Where have I heard this before? The Wangan and Jagalingou have been before the court four times now and their legal representative made the claim the Government denied them access to documents on the mine. Also, Gautam Adani, the owner of Adani Australia, has refused numerous requests to meet with them. Allegations of Adani’s company paying off members of the community to agree with the mining have begun to surface.

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Coal should be left in the ground

Political Skull-Duggery

There does appear to be a number of U-turns the Australian Government have performed in order to the let the Carmichael coal mine go ahead. Firstly, the Australian Prime Minster, Malcolm Turnbull, was once very critical of the previous incumbent, Kevin Rudd, for not doing enough on climate change and now he wants to subisdise the building of the Carmichael railroad with $1 billion of taxpayers’ money, something many Queenslanders are unhappy about. Secondly, the Australian Government conducted a report saying climate change is the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef, but that it is impossible to calculate the impact the Adani mines will have on global warming. Well, it certainly isn’t going to improve the dramatic rise in temperatures, that’s for sure.

Gautam Adani is the chairperson of the Adani Group. He is an Indian serial billionaire and is named in the Forbes Rich List. The Adani Group specialises in energy, or destroying the planet with fossil fuels as it should be known. The Indian Union Ministery of Finance is currently investigating the Adani Group, amongst others, for illegal invoicing and price fixing.  The Citizen of India reported that the loan Adani Group acquired to create the mine in the first place may be scrapped due to environmental concerns. If the banking industry is concerned it must be detrimentally bad.

Indeed, controversy is never far away with this man. Greenpeace Australia obtained documents that show Adani Group zoned the land improperly and had no projected figures for carbon output. There have also been a number of times Adani Group broke environmental and other restrictions in their Indian projects. Also, Barack Obama has backed a number of his enterprises. So much for him being an environmental president. Along with environmental and corruption issues, Adani Group has been accused of perpetrating human rights abuses. A sound bunch of lads.

Party Donations

Australia’s biggest political parties are bankrolled by the energy giants. This may go a long way to explaining why they go against their own commitments on climate change. Australia signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement and just years later give public money to open one of the country’s largest ever mines.  According to the Conversation.com, the Liberal Party received over $1 million and Labor $453,000 from fossil fuel companies. The figures from the last election are not available yet, but it is feared that they will be higher.

Conclusion 

Too many times we have seen the interests and welfare of the general public put on the back burner while government serves the whims of monied corporations. This is because so much of politics is based on money. Politicians need to sell their souls to get re-elected. As we pointed out some time back, it is too difficult for politicians to get elected anywhere without huge sums of money behind them and who has huge sums of money? Although this opens the way for corruption and human rights abuses, energy companies doing this present unique challenges which are far worse. The reality is, humanity mightn’t have much time left to correct the problem. There is a tipping point that exists and once we go past that there’s nothing we can do as a species or as a planet. Where that tipping point is we don’t know, but why take the risk? We need to act now.

 

In the meantime, have a look at this hilarious, yet tragic, video from those crazy kids at Juice Media;

 

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