Rare Lizard Thwarts Indian Giant Adani’s Coal Ambition – by Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – August 5, 2015)


Australian activists raised concerns about the Carmichael project’s impact on the yakka skink and ornamental snake

SYDNEY—The yakka skink may be little known globally, but the native Australian lizard is causing problems for one of India’s biggest conglomerates.

On Wednesday, a federal court in Sydney overturned approval for Adani Group to build one of the world’s biggest new coal mines on scrubland facing the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental activists have raised concerns about the project’s impact on the yakka skink and another vulnerable species, the ornamental snake.

Adani blamed Wednesday’s decision on red tape. Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the mining project last year, but it was overturned because of what the environment department termed a “technical, administrative” issue. It said its advice to Mr. Hunt during the approval process may not have been provided in the correct manner.

The department said it would take six to eight weeks to prepare new advice and supporting documents and for Mr. Hunt to reconsider his decision. It added that all parties involved, including Adani, agreed with the federal court’s decision to set aside approval of the project.

Resources companies seeking to build mines in Australia have to detail how they will protect threatened species or historic relics to secure approval, a process that typically takes years to complete. In some cases, proposed projects end on the scrapheap, such as when small coal miner LD Operations wanted to dig a pit in Western Australia’s Margaret River winegrowing region.

Few resources projects, however, are on the scale of Adani’s plans. The company wants to build the Carmichael coal mine and associated infrastructure in the Galilee Basin of eastern Australia’s Queensland state, producing as much as 60 million tons of thermal coal annually for export to its power plants in India. Previous estimates pegged the construction costs at 16.5 billion Australian dollars (US$12.2 billion).

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