THE Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland's Galilee Basin has recently been given a boost by the Queensland Government, which has declared it 'critical infrastructure'.
This designation means fast tracking the remaining project approvals and removing the power of the community to challenge it in court as well as enabling the company to forcibly acquire land.
Indian company Adani's Carmichael Mine gained most of the necessary State and Federal approvals in 2014. However, the projec has been subject to a number of court challenges.
Two concerns encouraging opponents to undertake court challenges are the threat the mine and its associated port developments (for example at Abbot Point) pose to the Great Barrier Reef and to groundwater in the Basin.
Another major concern is the carbon emissions this project will see released into the atmosphere at a time when the world should be drastically cutting its emissions. When peak production is reached, Adani expects to mine 60 million tonnes of coal per year. Over its estimated 60-year life, it expects 2.3 billion tonnes to be extracted. Whether the mine, if it goes ahead, will have a life of 60 years is problematic, given moves around the world to limit coal production, moves which are likely to become more influential in future years as concern rises about limiting emissions to combat climate change.
While the unsuccessful court challenges may have slowed Adani's start, another major problem has been its inability to obtain project funding - the result of a very successful lobbying campaign targeting major banks and other financial sources.
The Queensland Government's recent encouragement stems from concerns about job losses in central Queensland following the general mining downturn in the last year or so. The Government appears to believe the original company spiel of 10,000 jobs - even though Adani's own economic expert recently put the job number at 1464.
The Queensland Government should be looking at the big picture. As well as the climate change scenario, it should be considering the 69,000 Reef tourism jobs that will be put at risk by this mine.
Leonie Blain, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition