Canberra, April 5 (IANS) Adani Australia's controversial $21 billion Carmichael coal mine has been granted an unlimited 60-year water licence, in a move slammed by environmental and legal groups.
The associated water licence, signed by a Queensland government representative the day after Cyclone Debbie tore through the state's north, allows Adani Mining to take water from or near the Betts Creek formation when removing or draining water from the mine, the Guardian reported.
The licence acknowledges this will "have an impact on the underground water levels in the region of the mine" both during and after the planned coal mine's years of operation.
In a Facebook post, Adani Australia said the proposed $21.7 billion Carmichael mine, rail and port projects have undergone extensive and rigorous approval processes at both the state and Commonwealth levels, including a Land Court hearing on the mining lease that took into account public objections.
"Adani can confirm another milestone in the approval process for the Carmichael Mine, and here is some more information from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
"The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has granted an associated water licence to allow the safe operation of the mine. The modelling assessed by the department shows that up to 4.55 GL of groundwater could be taken per year.
"With the granting of the associated water license, there are now 100 conditions related to groundwater including specific conditions relating to monitoring and reporting.
"Under the conditions of the associated water licence for groundwater, Adani will also need to establish make good agreements with groundwater users who could potentially be affected by changes to water availability or quality.
"This means landholders would be fairly compensated for impacts on the water resources they rely on, and Adani would be required to pay landholders' reasonable costs to engage a hydrogeologist and any dispute resolution costs to negotiate a make good agreement," it said.
But Jo-Anne Bragg, the chief executive and solicitor at the Environment Defenders Office, Queensland, said: "Certainly the severe implications are that if the groundwater is taken, then it's not available for other more long-term or sustainable uses."
"This would be an irreversible serious consequence of these enornous coalmines," she told The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Adani presented a $200,000 cheque to help cyclone victims.
Adani Australia Country Head and CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj on Wednesday presented the cheque to the Salvation Army which is among the many NGOs providing frontline assistance to help people recover from the disaster.
He said the donation was particularly aimed at helping people living in the Whitsunday areas such as Bowen, Proserpine, Airlie Beach and Mackay, said a company statement.
"These people include members of the Adani 'family' who work at our Abbot Point bulk coal loading facility.
"It also includes people who we will soon employ as we start work later this year on our Carmichael mine and rail projects," he said, adding Adani staff from Abbot Point had also been deployed to work with the local area disaster teams to help restore public areas.
"Adani Australia staff are proud members of these communities and we are happy to provide this assistance," he added.