An India-backed company planning to build a massive coal mine in Australia welcomed a court’s decision Monday to dismiss a legal challenge raising environmental concerns over the project’s impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Federal Court dismissed the Australian Conservation Foundation’s case which questioned the government’s decision to approve the Aus$16.5 billion (US$12.5 billion) project in Queensland, home to the colourful coral reef.
“Our question was whether Australia’s federal environmental laws protected our Great Barrier Reef from its most serious threat—climate change,” said solicitor Sean Ryan from the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland.
“We asked the court to scrutinise if the environment minister was required to consider the climate change impacts from the burning of coal from the Carmichael mine, and disappointingly the Federal Court answered no.”
Adani Mining, which has plans for an open-cut and underground coal mine forecast to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for export in the Galilee Basin, welcomed the court’s decision.
It comes after the court dismissed another challenge earlier this month brought by an Aboriginal group on the basis that Adani did not have their consent to build the mine.
Adani has previously accused activists of exploiting legal loopholes to stall the massive project which has required state and federal approval.
“Over six years, there have been multiple approval processes, some two years of cumulative community consultation and submissions as part of those processes, and over ten appeals and judicial processes brought on by activists,” Adani said in a statement.
“There can be no question that there has been more than ample opportunity for consultation, input and appeal and for activists to have their say.”
Adani said it “stands ready” to deliver on its long term future with Queensland, pending the resolution of a small number of outstanding legal challenges.
“As the company has previously indicated, if those issues are finalised, construction can commence in 2017,” it said.
But the Australian Conservation Foundation’s chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said the group would not cease its efforts to stop the mine.
“We are not giving up,” she said. “Poll after poll shows Australians want a healthy reef, not more polluting coal. We’ll do everything we can to stop this mine,”reports AFP, SYDNEY.