Archive for October, 2015

Adani Carmichael: Australia’s largest coal mine free to proceed after Greg Hunt gives approval

Friday, October 16th, 2015

The nation’s largest coal mine has passed a significant hurdle after Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved it with “the strictest conditions in Australian history”, in a decision environment groups have declared “a disaster”.

Mr Hunt on Thursday said the Carmichael coal mine proposed by Indian mining giant Adani has been given the green light after the Federal Court in August set aside the previous approval.

Abbot Point coal terminal image www.www-globalcommodities.com

The project, which will produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for export a year, has faced staunch opposition because its Abbot Point terminals are located close to the Great Barrier Reef.

Opponents have already flagged an intention to launch a legal challenge to the latest approval.

The government decision clears a regulatory hurdle, yet there are still questions over how the $16 billion project will be financed. National Australia Bank has said it will not fund the mine and other banks are being pressured to follow suit.

The approval will require $1 million funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species over 10 years, and strict groundwater monitoring and action triggers would protect Doongmabulla Springs, Mr Hunt said.

The Department of the Environment will monitor the mine and Adani must provide a groundwater management and monitoring plan.

Federal Labor resources spokesman Gary Gray welcomed the decision and said the project was of “great importance to Queensland and to Australia”.

Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced on Thursday the mine would proceed. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The project still requires federal dredging approval and some state-based approvals.

The Mackay Conservation Group launched its Federal Court challenge in January, alleging greenhouse gas emissions from the mine, vulnerable species and Adani’s environmental track record had not been taken into account.

Mr Hunt said the court set aside the mine’s earlier approval at the request of the government.

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The case prompted the government to propose new laws that would prevent “vigilante” environment groups from challenging large developments in court.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said the approval “risks threatened species, precious ground water, the global climate and taxpayers’ money”.

“[Mr] Hunt is sacrificing threatened species … and precious ground water resources for the sake of a mine that simply does not stack up economically,” Ms Roberts said, adding the black throated finch would probably be pushed to extinction.

Equipment at the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Equipment at the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland. Photo: Glenn Hunt

She said the conditions set by Mr Hunt did not adequately deal with the serious implications of the mine, which “can’t be offset”.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Shani Tager said the mine would be “a complete disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef”.”This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions,” she said.

Adani welcomed the decision, saying the initial legal hurdle was a “technicality” prompted by a mistake by the Department of the Environment. In a statement, the company said it was always “confident in the soundness of the broader approvals, that the species involved had been protected by conditions, and that the technical error would be promptly rectified”. “Today’s announcement … makes clear that these concerns have been addressed, reflected in rigorous and painstaking conditions,” it said. The company intended to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested into community services, Adani said. The jobs figure has been disputed.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott with mining magnate Gautum Adani image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Former prime minister Tony Abbott with mining magnate Gautum Adani. Photo: Andrew Meares

Lobby group GetUp! on Thursday said its members had already helped fund legal action against the mine, and the organisation was “exploring the legal opportunities available to us” in light of the latest decision.

“This coal mine is the dumbest, most dangerous and uneconomic development in Australia,” senior campaigner Sam Regester said.

“We are calling on GetUp! members and the community to stand up and fight this mine again. We’ve beaten it before and we can beat it again.”

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Henry Sapiecha

 

China launches massive military manhunt for coal mine killers of almost 100 people

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

china_workers_quarters_room_coal image www.www-globalcommodities.com

An area double the size of Manhattan has been cordoned off as authorities pursue suspects following a coordinated knife attack that killed 60 workers at a northwestern Chinese coal mine, reports the FT.

The incident, first reported by Radio Free Asia, occurred on September 18 in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. After overtaking security guards, the attackers killed the workers while they were asleep in bunkhouses at the Sogan colliery in the city of Aksu. The attackers are alleged to be Uyghur separatists.

The nine suspects, are said to be hiding in  nearby mountains  where a massive military-led operation is now underway:

The helicopters and drones are operating out of the airport at Aksu, the largest city in the area. Police have established checkpoints on all roads leading to Baicheng, which covers an area of about 16,000 sq km. Heavily armed police are posted behind sandbag bunkers at each road block, providing cover for their colleagues who perform identification and weapons checks on all people entering the area.”

Most of the victims were Han Chinese migrant workers, but according to locals five police officers who responded to the attack were also killed. Aksu residents fear the death toll could be as high as 100.

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region suffers from discord due to ethnic fault lines. Uyghurs identify more closely with Central Asian nations.

The FT reports that Xinjiang “has long been a strategic priority for the Chinese government because of its natural resources, including the country’s largest coal reserves, and its proximity to even bigger energy sources in Central Asia.”:

“It is also a key component of President Xi Jinping’s “New Silk Road” strategy, aimed at enhancing Eurasian infrastructure links.”

The area was independent up to 1949 when it became part of China. China has been asserting is control over the area with more westward migration and a heavier military presence.

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Henry Sapiecha

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