The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Strictest conditions on Carmichael Coal Mine project
28 July 2014
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After undertaking a thorough assessment and consideration under national environment law, I have approved the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project, subject to 36 strict conditions.
The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with a specific focus on the protection of groundwater.
These 36 conditions complement the conditions imposed by the Queensland Government, and will ensure the proponent meets the highest environmental standards and that all impacts, including cumulative impacts, are avoided, mitigated or offset.
A rigorous, open and thorough environmental assessment process was undertaken to take account of the public interest in the project.
I have also visited the proposed site to better understand the project and met with the local community to understand their views.
The project, which was proposed and advanced under the previous state and federal ALP Governments, will have a resource value of $5 billion per annum over 60 years.
At full export capacity, the project is expected to contribute almost $930 million to the Mackay region's gross regional product and $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy each year for the next 60 years.
It will generate an estimated 2475 construction jobs and a further 3920 jobs during the operations phase.
The project has a lifetime resource value of at least $300 billion, and will enhance economic development opportunities throughout the region through indirect employment and training, and contract and supply opportunities.
It is estimated the project will provide electricity for up to 100 million people in India.
The strict conditions will ensure the protection of the environment as a paramount concern.
The comprehensive assessment of this project took into account advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC).
I personally visited the site with the head of the IESC, and have incorporated all of her suggestions in the conditions.
Any matters raised by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee were met with further and strengthened conditions, including requirements for a review of the groundwater flow model and measures to protect the Great Artesian Basin.
The strict conditions being imposed require the proponent to:
- ensure that a minimum of 730 megalitres of water are returned to the Great Artesian Basin every year for five years. This is an effective extension of the GABSI programme
- peer review the parameters of the groundwater modelling and to re-run the model to determine whether further mitigation measures are required
- monitor groundwater changes to verify and update the modelling
- adaptively manage uncleared habitat to address potential subsidence impacts and groundwater changes
- offset impacts from cleared habitat and review offset requirements if uncleared habitat is subsequently impacted through subsidence or groundwater changes
- contribute funding to address cumulative impacts to threatened species and communities
- undertake research on potential groundwater changes to adaptively manage risks of impacts
I acknowledge the work of the previous State and Federal ALP Governments in advancing consideration of this project. I am pleased that we have been able to apply some of the strictest environment conditions in Australian history as part of this decision.
For further information see http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=current_referral_detail&proposal_id=5736
Read more about the assessment and approval process for this project.