Adani’s Carmichael project faces aboriginal challenge

29 May 2015


Adani Group's Carmichael coal project in Australia is facing fresh trouble. A group of indigenous aboriginal landowners in Australia's Queensland state today announced a fresh federal court challenge to the Indian mining giant's $16.5-billion coal mine-cum-rail road project.

Adani's Carmichael mine, slated to come up in Queensland's Galilee Basin, is expected to export at least 50 million tonnes of coal each year on completion in 2017.

The mine is expected to extract four billion tonnes of coal during its operating life of approximately 90 years.

The coal will be carried by rail to port facilities at Hay Point and Abbot Point for onward shipments to the group's power projects in India.

The project also involves construction of a new rail line which will connect with the existing Goonyella railway line.

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J), the organisation of the indigenous landowners, said they have vowed to stop the Carmichael mine project, which, if allowed to go ahead, would destroy vast tracts of traditional lands and ancient connection to the country forever.

"First, we announce that we have filed an appeal and judicial review in the Federal Court of Australia. This court action challenges the decision of Australia's National Native Title Tribunal that the Queensland government may issue mining leases for Carmichael," W&J spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said.

"This challenge is unprecedented in the history of Native Title Tribunal decisions. If necessary, we will take our case all the way to the High Court," Burragubba said.

The National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) in its judgement had ruled in favour of the project.

Besides, the aboriginal land owners plan a global campaign to muster support for their fight against the mining giant. They plan to present their case to investment banks, governments and environment groups.

"But this disastrous mine needs billions of dollars of finance if it is to ever go ahead," Burragubba said adding that "we also announce today that in 48 hours, on Sunday we will embark on a world tour to hold high-level talks with investment banks on Wall Street, in European finance capitals, and in Asia".

"We will communicate to the banks that we do not consent to Carmichael, and the reasons we cannot allow this mine to go ahead. We will remind them that any bank that funds Carmichael will be breaching important human rights principles to which they are signatory; principles requiring that projects that affect indigenous owners have their consent. We'll urge them to honour their obligations and commit to ruling out funding," he said.

W&J also plans to meet with traditional land owners opposing massive fossil fuel projects, including the tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada, the statement added.

Adani, meanwhile, issued a statement saying, "Adani is confident that the judgement of the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) will be upheld".

Adani also accused NGOs of misleading aboriginals to gain support for their willful campaigns against mining projects.

"The NNTT variously held that authorised representatives of the W&J are working with the company, the submissions of groups purporting to represent the whole group were not relevant, that the mine and other Adani projects would deliver substantial intergenerational economic benefits to the W&J, and that there are sound and effective cultural heritage management plans for the site long since in place," Adani Mining said.

"It is unfortunate that NGOs who have deductible gift recipient status, narrowly with respect to their environmental activities have admitted to channelling funds to run a divisive campaign within the W&J group," it said.

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