Adani Group’s $21-bn Carmichael coal mine project clears legal hurdle in Australia
An Australian court on Friday turned down the application of an indigenous group from Down Under challenging mining leases awarded to India-based energy major Adani Group’s $21-billion Carmichael coal mine project.
Members of Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) community – a Queensland indigenous group – had filed the application contending that a decision the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) made in April last year regarding the awarding of the two mining leases for the project, said to be one of the biggest in the world, was incorrect.
But the Queensland Federal Court rejected the application, with Justice John Reeves concluding it lacked merit. Senior traditional owner for W&J Adrian Burragubba, who had moved the application seeking judicial review against the Queensland government, Adani and the NNTB, had argued that the tribunal had ended up making the wrong decision as it was misled by the Indian company about the economic benefits that would flow.
Reeves said while awarding the lease, the NNTT had upheld the rules of natural justice and there was no constructive failure in its exercise of its jurisdiction. Adani welcomed the decision and declared the company would continue to work with the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to help realise the potential benefits of the mine, rail and port project.
“Over five years, Adani has worked closely with traditional owners spanning its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland. Over that time, Burragubba has continuously objected to any and every process relating to the mine at Carmichael, even in the face of the majority of his traditional owner group supporting the project,” the company said in a statement.
“Pending the resolution of outstanding legal challenges to activist-led state and federal approvals, Adani stands ready to deliver on its plans to build a long term future with Queensland, while delivering the jobs, training and economic benefits both to regional Queensland and traditional owner communities” it said.
However, Burragubba promised to continue to fight, saying he would seek advice from his legal team on moving an appeal. The project, launched six years back, has been bogged down in court battles.
In August, 2015, the Australian Federal Court had quashed the original approval citing environmental concerns. But the project got a fresh lease of life two months later as the Australian government gave its re-approval.