An endangered bird could derail Adani’s controversial new coal mine in Queensland after a review found its management plan for the species wasn’t good enough.
The Indian miner has reacted with anger after a draft copy of the review – ordered by the state government – was published by News Corp on Friday.
Adani claims the review is biased, “reads like an anti-coal, anti-mining, anti-Adani lobbying brochure” and “even references the work of anti-Adani campaigners”.
It says the government cannot accept any of its recommendations and has questioned if the government is deliberately trying to obstruct the project.
The draft review reportedly says the mine should not proceed until Adani revises its plan to manage the endangered black-throated finch, which lives on its Carmichael mine site.
It also recommends a trigger that would stop mining at the site unless Adani can prove finch numbers haven’t dropped in the first five years of operation.
Earlier this week Adani launched an advertising blitz, accusing the state government of constantly shifting the goal posts for its mine.
The miner said it wanted “a fair go” and accused the government of ordering the review at the last minute, after 18 months of work, consultations with the environment department and seven sets of revisions.
“If the Queensland government accepts any part of this report, it means their own Department of Environment’s work over the past 18 months is at best incompetent, and at worst using purposeful delay tactics to slow down the delivery of the Carmichael project and the thousands of jobs it will provide,” an Adani spokeswoman told News Corp.
On Tuesday, Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow would not say if he believed Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government was trying to white-ant the mine.
“What the government’s intentions are are really questions for the premier and the deputy premier,” Mr Dow told AAP.
He said it was “concerning” that the premier hadn’t bothered to respond to his letter sent before Christmas, seeking clarity about how much longer it would take to obtain final approvals.
He said letters sent on February 4 to Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and six other cabinet ministers had also gone unanswered.
Claims of bias a ‘political tactic’
But the Queensland government has hit back, saying the review was free of political interference and Adani has known since 2014 that it had to produce a proper plan to protect a bird teetering on the edge of extinction.
University of Melbourne ecologist Brendan Wintle chairs the panel that reviewed the plan and said claims of bias were “a political tactic”.
Professor Wintle said the review had drawn on scientific evidence from widely recognised experts, and panel members were experts in biology, conservation and sustainability.
During a tour of flood-hit Queensland on Friday Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked if he was worried the mine could be killed off.
“I am concerned about jobs and people playing games with jobs,” he replied.
Professor Wintle said the final review report would be handed to the state government on Friday unless Adani had asked for more time to provide feedback.