Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science has today approved Adani’s Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) for the Carmichael coal project. 

It said Adani had submitted its most recent version of the plan, addressing the department’s feedback, yesterday.

The GDEMP was the final environmental management approval required for Adani to begin significant mining activities at its Carmichael mine site, 160km north-west of Clermont.

The decision – meeting a deadline set by the Co-ordinator General – came after project’s Black-Throated Finch Management Plan was approved on May 31. 

Adani wins approval for work at Carmichael coal project

In an official statement, the DES said the GDEMP’s assessment has been rigorous and based on the best available science.  

“DES and Adani have met regularly to ensure the plan is robust and provides the maximum environmental protection,” the DES said.

“In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia – the same advice considered by the Commonwealth Government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year. 

“DES sought further clarification and advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, which it received on 7 June 2019. 

“Based on this advice, DES is satisfied that the GDEMP sufficiently establishes the main source aquifer of the springs as the Clematis Sandstone.

“CSIRO and Geoscience Australia also confirmed that some level of uncertainty in geological and groundwater conceptual models always exists.”

The DES said it had required additional commitments from Adani to undertake further scientific work over the next two years. 

This is required to identify any potential contribution from other aquifers and strengthen the GDEMP.

Additional commitments in the approved GDEMP include: 

Additional measures in the GDEMP also address concerns raised last week by Flinders University scientists that the Permian aquifers should not be ruled out as a Doongmabulla Springs Complex source. 

These include installing a new bore below the Rewan Formation, in the vicinity of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, to assist in determining if the Permian aquifers (Colinlea) form a source for the springs. 

Adani is also required to review hydrological, hydrochemistry analyses and seismic information as part of its second geological and groundwater remodelling after box cut mining starts, and review seismic information pertaining underground mining impacts (which is scheduled to start in year 10 of the project). Further seismic studies may also need to be undertaken.

Underground mining will not commence until these actions are completed and only if predicted impacts are consistent with approved impacts.  Likewise, if the hydrogeological conceptualisation differs from that of the approved project, approval must be sought prior to relevant impact causing activities.