Culture

Plans To Build A Giant Coal Mine That Would’ve Trashed The Great Barrier Reef Just Got Shot Down In Court

News about the environment in Australia that doesn't suck? WHAT IS THIS.

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What is this strange sensation in my chest? Is this…happiness? Is this what happiness feels like? Because a day in Tony Abbott’s Australia where a big ol’ coal mine doesn’t get the green light would be such a rare and wonderful day I seem to have forgotten the emotions associated with stimuli like that.

[processing feelings] [feelings process failure]

Some backstory. The $16 billion Carmichael mine was originally approved by Environment Minister and sad fish Greg Hunt in July last year, allowing Indian coal company Adani to dig what would be Australia’s biggest mine in the middle of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, with the coal to be shipped out of newly-enlarged ports adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. It would spit about 130 million tonnes worth of carbon emissions into the atmosphere over its 90-year lifespan, and could be responsible for up to four percent of global carbon emissions by 2050, by itself. That’s, like, five Clive Palmers. Possibly six.

I am so sorry.

Conservationists, local Indigenous communities and activist groups like GetUp! have been fighting the mine ever since, pointing out that Adani have a supremely dodgy record of environmental vandalism, illegal activity, and corruption, and that turning the world’s largest and most valuable reef into the inside of an old-timey coalminer’s lungs is a supremely stupid idea.

And all that opposition has had a big effect — the threat to the Reef has resulted in a stack of media coverage, and Adani have run into roadblock after roadblock trying to turn their big smoky dream into a reality. Major banks like Deutsche Bank, HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Citi, as well as state-owned banks in France and India, have refused to finance the project because of its environmental implications, and the freefalling price of coal has raised questions about whether a large new mine like the Galilee project could even make money. In recent weeks Adani have laid off dozens of workers and cancelled its arrangements with major contractors and engineering firms, raising the possibility that they’re toying with the idea of abandoning the project entirely.

Now Adani have yet another headache. In a delightfully quaint ruling this morning, the Federal Court ruled that in approving the mine Hunt hadn’t adequately considered it would have on two threatened animal species — the yakka skink and the ornamental snake, both of which are apparently real things.

snek

Founding members of reptiles for Eco-Socialism.

This latest court decision is unlikely to kill off the Galilee project once and for all — the ball is once again in Greg Hunt’s court, who can issue another approval or can the project at his discretion. But given the litany of difficulties Adani have encountered trying to get this thing up and running already, that mine is looking farther away than ever.