By the Blouin News Business staff

Queensland approves Adani coal mine; odds still against it

by in Asia-Pacific.

A shipyard used by Adani Group. (Source: Neha Gupta/flickr)

A shipyard used by Adani Group. (Source: Neha Gupta/flickr)

About 150 people gathered in Brisbane on Monday morning to protest the Adani Group’s Carmichael coal mine. The Queensland government had approved mining leases for the controversial site the day before, a decision the protesters called “economic stupidity and environmental insanity.”

Last year Blouin News reported on the project’s uncertain economics and sure-to-be massive CO2 emissions, and it will be the target of even more scorn now following the Paris climate change deal reached in December.

Environmentalists, aboriginal groups, and many other concerned Australians oppose the mine for two main reasons, one local and one global. Much of the sediment dug up needs to be disposed of somewhere affordable, and the firm’s original plan to dump it into the ocean 15 miles from the Great Barrier Reef drew outrage. The reef is still at risk however, due to ocean acidification and coral bleaching from warmer temperatures. That is the crux of the larger criticism: that coal is on the wrong side of history and burning it would only worsen global climate change.

Although approval of the leases was Adani’s last major regulatory hurdle, the odds are now heavily tilted away from the project ever being realized. The Adani Group said it was delaying its final decision on the $21 billion investment until 2017, and announced that the project is on hold while the coal market is in a slump. Financing that enormous tab has also been in doubt ever since the Commonwealth Bank ended its association with the project in August. And the mine still faces legal challenges from conservationists and traditional land owners.

With coal prices low and demand slowing in the major export markets of China and India, the mine would not be a wise investment. More importantly, burning that coal would be an environmental catastrophe. It should remain in the ground.