Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has approved the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project.
Ms Price said the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia had confirmed the revised plans met strict scientific requirements.
The announcement came after weekend news reports that her LNP colleague Senator James McGrath had written to Ms Price warning that he would publicly call for her resignation if she didn’t treat the Adani project fairly.
The decision does not comprise the final approval for the thermal coal project, located in the Galilee Basin.
Ms Price said it now required further approvals from the Queensland Government prior to construction commencing.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable said the groundwater assessment cleared the way for the Queensland Government to finalise the remaining approvals for Adani’s Carmichael mine and infrastructure project.
“These approvals should take place as soon as possible so the mine can start providing highly paid, highly skilled job and supporting businesses across regional Queensland,” she said.
“Australia will benefit from thousands of new regional jobs and long-term investment in the mine and rail infrastructure in Queensland.”
Ms Price said to date only 16 of 25 environmental plans for the mine had been finalised or approved by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments with a further nine to be finalised.
“It must meet further stringent conditions of approval from the Commonwealth before it can begin producing coal,” she said.
“This project has been subject to the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia.
“Approvals for the project by the Commonwealth in 2015 and the Queensland State Government in 2016 resulted in the setting of 180 strict conditions to protect the environment.
“The project’s water management plans have been thoroughly assessed by the Department of the Environment and Energy, which commissioned independent technical advice from Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO.
“That advice identified areas of groundwater modelling, monitoring and management that required further work.”
She said that advice recommended a number of actions, which Adani Australia had accepted in full, including:
A substantial increase of early warning monitoring between the mine and the Doongmabulla Springs using additional deeper bores and an additional bore site to monitor flows
Tightened corrective action triggers requiring an immediate response to any unexpected groundwater impact
Commitments to re-run the model addressing all Geoscience Australia and CSIRO concerns within two years of the commencement of coal extraction (noting there are no predicted impacts to nationally protected matters within 15 years).