Indian coal giant Adani flouts Australian environment laws, risks endangered finch

Press release - 5 March, 2014
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt should use his powers to immediately order an investigation into the potential impacts of exploration activities by Indian coal giant Adani on an endangered Australian finch at the site of a proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, says Greenpeace..

“Greenpeace calls for Galilee Basin halt until threat to rare birds is assessed,” The Guardian Australia today.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific's investigations show Adani has ignored its legal obligation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to apply for an approval to undertake seismic testing in prime habitat for the Black-Throated Finch (Southern) which is listed as endangered.

Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent behind the Carmichael mine which will be the biggest black coal mine in Australia, has an embarrassing record both in India and Australia of violating environmental conditions, illegal activity and destroying natural places.

Louise Matthiesson Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate Campaigner said, “The tiny finch is the canary in our coal mine. The Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt can make sure Adani complies with all Australian environmental laws, or he can turn a blind eye to their plans to damage one of the last strongholds for this endangered bird.

“Greenpeace has expert scientific advice that the exploration work has the potential to have a significant impact on the finch, which has already disappeared from 80 per cent of its natural range.”

“It would be madness to push an endangered Australian bird further towards extinction for the sake of an Indian owned coal mine which may never go ahead.

“Adani’s poor environmental record, coupled with recent analysis showing that the mining project is uncommercial, strengthens the case for postponing seismic testing at the Carmichael coal mine site until a proper assessment of its impact on this endangered bird.

“The Minster for the Environment Greg Hunt should press the pause button on seismic testing and direct his Department conduct a vigorous study interrogating what impact testing will have on the bird’s habitat and conservation efforts,” Ms Matthiesson said.

The seismic surveys at the Carmichael mine site are likely to involve slashing undergrowth vegetation and removing trees under 30cm diameter, along strips 4.5m wide, across a total of 3899 hectares of important Black Throated Finch habitat.

Under the EPBC Act, companies have a legal obligation to refer any activity that could have a significant impact on an endangered species to the Environment Department for assessment.

Greenpeace asked Minister Hunt to use his power under s70 of EPBC Act to call in the project for urgent assessment and his Department is examining the issue. The environmental organisation has legal advice that if Adani proceeds with seismic survey work at the mine site, without referring the matter for assessment, an offence may be committed under s18 of the EPBC Act.

The Carmichael project will produce export coal aimed predominantly at the Indian market. The mine would be linked to the coast by a new railway line, crossing farmland and floodplains. The development is the driver behind Minister Hunt’s approval in December 2013 of the highly contentious ‘Terminal Zero’ port development at Abbot Point. The expansion of Abbot point will involve the dredging and dumping of 3-million cubic metres of seabed in the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. Huge coal stockpiles and machinery will be wedged between the delicate Caley Valley wetlands and a turtle-nesting beach, less than 100m away.

High quality photos of the finch available on request.

For more information: Alison Orme Greenpeace Media and Communications 0432 332 104

For interview: Louise Matthiesson Greenpeace Campaigner 0406 041 428

Research Briefing: Impacts of the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine Project on the Black-Throated Finch (Southern)

 

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