It is now up to the Queensland government to sign off on two key environmental approvals for Indian mining giant Adani’s massive coal mine to go ahead.
The company’s revised plan for managing groundwater at its Carmichael mine in the coal rich Galilee Basin has been given the green light by federal Environment Minister Melissa Price.
She says CSIRO and Geoscience Australia confirmed Adani’s proposal met strict scientific requirements.
A total of nine plans still require either federal or state government approvals, but two of them will hold up the project if they aren’t signed off by Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government.
They are the groundwater plan that Queensland must now also tick off and another to manage the tiny and endangered Black-Throated Finch.
Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said the Queensland government had continually shifted goal posts when it came to finalising the outstanding environmental management plans for the mine.
“It’s time the Queensland government gave us a fair go and stopped shifting the goal posts so we can get on with delivering these jobs,” he said.
Ms Price signed off after reportedly facing pressure from colleagues to to do so before the federal election.
“This decision does not comprise the final approval for this project,” Ms Price said in a statement announcing the decision on Tuesday.
“The project now requires further approvals from the Queensland government prior to construction commencing.”
Queensland and federal Greens MPs and environmental group Lock the Gate say the decision puts precious water resources at risk, and shows the federal government gave in to pressure from Adani.
Senator Larissa Waters said Ms Price had bowed to bullies within her own party, and is risking groundwater resources.
“Shorten’s Labor must come out now and say where they stand on Adani’s climate-wrecking, reef-bleaching & job-destroying mega coal mine,” the Greens MP tweeted.
Michael Berkman, the party’s only state MP and a former public interest environmental lawyer, says the decision is a disgrace.
“Every day for nearly a decade, either Labor or LNP could have announced they don’t support Adani, killing the project almost instantly,” he tweeted.
“Instead, they’ve tried to keep the billionaires happy, and pitted regional (Queenslanders) who need jobs against the environment.”
Environmental lobby group Lock the Gate Alliance says rubber-stamping plans just weeks from the next poll means the approvals are compromised.
“There has been blatant political interference in relation to this issue over the last week, with LNP threats against the Environment Minister and hurried meetings between the Adani CEO with the Prime Minister,” spokeswoman Carmel Flint said.
They are calling for an investigation into how the approval was granted.