Adani gets nod on water plan

Protesters outside Queensland Parliament called for Adani's Carmichael Mine to be rejected on Tuesday. Photo: Bruce Currie
Protesters outside Queensland Parliament called for Adani's Carmichael Mine to be rejected on Tuesday. Photo: Bruce Currie

It's full steam ahead for the Adani coal mine after the Queensland government issued the final approval the company needs to begin construction.

Queensland's environment department has signed off on the company's plan to manage groundwater on and around its Galilee basin mine site.

Adani promised an immediate start to construction once the last approval was in hand.

In a statement, the environment department said it had approved the most recent version of the plan, which Adani submitted just a day ago.

"Adani submitted its most recent version of the plan, addressing the department's feedback, yesterday," the department said.

"The (plan's) assessment has been rigorous and based on the best available science."

The approval commits Adani to additional measures to safeguard and monitor water sources.

Some water experts claim Adani has grossly underestimated the mine's impacts on underground, and fear the effects of its permit to pump water out of the mine to allow for the safe extraction of coal.

Hydrologists from four Australian universities issued a joint report earlier this week, saying Adani's water science was "severely flawed".

They warned the mine could have a such a dramatic effect on groundwater levels that the ancient Doongmabulla Springs Complex, 8km from the edge of Adani's mining lease, could permanently dry up.

That would spell death for the plant and animal species that rely on the springs for survival, one of those experts, Flinders University hydrogeology professor Adrian Werner, told AAP.

Prof Werner also warned of dire consequences for the Carmichael River which flows through the mine site, saying it would be cut off from its flood plain and could be robbed of groundwater that keeps the river flowing for much of the year.

Before Thursday's decision, a former state government water chief said Adani's plan would have irrefutable consequences for underground water sources in an area that's heavily dependent on them.

Tom Crothers is a former general manager for water allocation and planning in the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.

Mr Crothers, who's now a water policy consultant, said the state government had no clue what the cumulative impact would be if the Adani mine and eight others planned for the Galilee basin went ahead.

"We're looking at extraction of four Sydney Harbours out of underground systems. That's a huge amount of water," he told ABC radio.

"We see politicians put their hands on their hearts and tell Queenslanders that we're managing our groundwater resources sustainably.

"They don't know ... the Queensland government doesn't have a clue what's happening in terms of how underground water is being managed."

Australian Associated Press