Showing posts with label Great Barrier Reef. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great Barrier Reef. Show all posts

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Reef 2050 plan to restore outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef decade by decade questioned in the wake of back to-back bleaching events


On 8 December 2017 the Australian Academy of Science made a submission to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority consultation on the Coastal Ecosystems Position Statement.

This submission made the following points:

* The federal government Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan to restore the “Outstanding Universal Values” of the Great Barrier Reef decade by decade is no longer tenable following back to-back bleaching events.

* Climate change is a clear and present challenge to the ongoing health of the Great Barrier Reef.

* Almost all “historic” and “legacy” stressors to the Great Barrier Reef remain today, and most of them continue to escalate — for example, land clearing, maintenance dredging, ship anchoring, and coastal recreational fishing pressure.

* There is a need to avoid further environmental damage through better management of stressors.

* Monitoring of drivers or stressors, including so called “legacy” drivers, should be included as a subject of research and management.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

400,000 hectares stripped of vegetation in Queensland in 2015-16


The world’s largest living structure, the Great Barrier Reef, is both a nursery and feeding ground for colourful tropical marine species and edible fish species – it is part of Australia’s national food bowl.

Yet there still appears to be people who fail to understand the importance of vegetated land catchments to sustaining the health of this 2,300 kilometres long reef system.

The Guardian, 24 November 2017:

Queensland farmers are suspected of having defied rare federal government intervention and cleared a large swath of land without commonwealth approval, according to conservationists.

The native vegetation was in a reef catchment, meaning the clearing could worsen pollution on the Great Barrier Reef. Government-commissioned studies show it provided habitat to several threatened species.

Queensland is experiencing a boom in tree clearing – rates jumped 33% in 2016, in a region that is already considered the only “global deforestation hotspot” in the developed world. About 400,000 hectares were cleared in 2015-16, meaning Queensland now has two-thirds the annual rate of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon.

In 2015 the landowners at Wombinoo, about 70km south-west of Cairns, gained approval under lenient Queensland state laws to clear more than 3,000 hectares of mostly untouched remnant native vegetation.

Between 2015 and 2016, the farmers began undertaking that clearing, with 560 hectares of trees felled and burned before environment groups noticed and alerted the federal government.

The government took the very rare step of forcibly referring the planned clearing for assessment under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Under that law, activities that potentially affect “matters of national environmental significance” must be assessed by the federal government.

An assessment found the clearing would need federal approval. It also found the previous clearing required investigation because it might have destroyed the habitat of a number of threatened species, including the greater glider and koalas.

No approval has been granted for further clearing, and the investigation of the previous clearing is apparently still incomplete, but footage has emerged purportedly showing a further 60 hectares was cleared between March and April this year. The clearing allegedly includes one large plot, as well as a strip about 60 metres wide, according to the Wilderness Society, which gathered the evidence. But land owners who spoke to the Guardian said all relevant approvals had been secured before any clearing took place.

The Wilderness Society alleges that half of that new clearing is in a creek bed that drains on to the Great Barrier Reef, raising concerns about the impacts on water quality there. According to the Wilderness Society, some of the new clearing appears to have occurred outside the area that received approval from the state government.

Lawyers at the Environmental Defenders Office of New South Wales have written to both the federal and state governments on behalf of the Wilderness Society, informing them of the clearing and asking what action would be taken.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Castle Hill, Townsville carries the message "STOP ADANI"


A major heritage-listed landmark shows that not everyone in Townsville, Queensland, appears to be happy with becoming a mining FIFO dumping ground hub for the financially dubious multinational Adani Group ……

Castle Hill aka Cutheringa Mountain est elevation 264 metres
Image: Townsville Bulletin, 16 October 2016


Thursday, 29 June 2017

UNESCO REPORT - "Assessment: World Heritage coral reefs likely to disappear by 2100 unless CO2 emissions drastically reduce"


Excerpts from United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Coral Reefs: A First Global Scientific Assessment, 23 June 2017:


Seventy two percent of World Heritage reef properties (21 of 29) have been exposed to severe and/or repeated heat stress during the past three years. Within the three years of the current global bleaching event (mid 2014-mid 2017), 18 World Heritage reefs (62%) were in the highest impact category (dark red) at either one or both stress levels (Table 1c,d). A further three properties were exposed to recurrent bleaching stress (red) or a single severe stress event (orange). This illustrates the dramatic impact on coral reefs during this period, which has seen three consecutive years of record global temperature (2014, 2015 and 2016), and reflects an increase in bleaching frequency from that seen in the prior decades. Only four properties (14%) escaped bleaching-level heat stress during this three-year bleaching event: Brazilian Atlantic Islands (Brazil), iSimangaliso Wetland Park (South Africa), Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (Sudan) and Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)…..

Coral mortality during the third global bleaching event has been among the worst ever observed, including at World Heritage reefs; e.g., Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Papahānaumokuākea (USA) and Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)…..

Papahānaumokuākea (USA) and the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), among the most spatially vast of all World Heritage properties…..

Coral communities typically take at least 15 to 25 years to recover from mass mortality events such as destructive cyclones and mass bleaching events. If the frequency of mass mortality events increases to a point where the return time of mortality events is less than the time it takes to recover, the abundance of corals on reefs will decline. Consequently, the frequency of stress events that reached or exceeded the 4°C and 8°C-week DHW thresholds was calculated for each World Heritage reef-containing property (Table 1) to detect if the bleaching frequency exceeded the best-case rates of recovery.

This analysis showed that World Heritage properties containing coral reefs have been increasingly exposed to heat stress during recent years. Nearly half (13) of the 29 World Heritage Listed reef properties were exposed to levels of heat stress that cause coral bleaching, on average, more than twice per decade during the 1985- 2013 period

Download full report here.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet and it is dying before our very eyes


“The breathtaking array of marine creatures includes 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins” [Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority, 2017]

The Great Barrier Reef - stretching 2,300 kilometres along Australia’s east coast - is the largest living structure on the planet and it is dying right before our very eyes.


Winter sea surface temperatures in 2016 remained above average and, by the beginning of the 2016-17 summer, the accumulated heat stress on the Reef resulted in a second wave of mass bleaching.

Staff from the Marine Park Authority took part in aerial surveys conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the results confirmed the extent and severity of the 2017 bleaching event…..

In addition to severe bleaching affecting over half the Reef since 2016, large portions of the Reef have also been subjected to other simultaneous impacts during the 2016-17 summer.

Severe tropical cyclone Debbie crossed the coast at Airlie Beach on 28 March 2017.
  
It is estimated approximately 28 per cent of the total reef area in the Marine Park was within the ‘catastrophic damage zone’ of the cyclone’s path.

Surveys conducted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service have revealed that some sites have suffered significant damage (up to 97 percent coral loss) and are down to very low coral cover, while others received less damage and still have moderate coral cover…..

Outbreaks of coral disease and crown-of-thorns starfish have also been ongoing.

The cumulative impact of these disturbances are affecting most of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and it is likely the resilience of the majority of reefs north of Mackay has been severely diminished.

Although some disturbances are considered natural processes that have shaped coral reef communities over time, impacts such as climate change are leading to more widespread and frequent disturbances.

New Atlas, 29 May 2017:


Prior to 2017, the Great Barrier Reef had suffered through three major bleaching events in modern history – 1998, 2002 and 2016 – and underwater and aerial surveys earlier this year indicated that 2017 would offer little reprieve, with scientists confirming back-to-back bleaching events were taking place. They had maintained hope that things would cool off quickly, but further surveys have now revealed that seems unlikely, along with the true extent of the current damage. 
Scientists from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have confirmed that 29 percent of shallow water corals died from the bleaching in 2016, an increase on the 22 percent they had predicted midway through that year. Deeper coral was also affected, but divers are unable to systematically assess mortality rates at those depths.


Science Alert, 30 May 2017:

The Great Barrier Reef can no longer be saved by existing plans to protect the ecological site, experts have warned, saying that efforts should shift to a lesser, backup plan of maintaining the reef's "ecological function" instead.

Scientists have told an Australian government committee that the current strategy to protect the reef – the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan – is unachievable in light of recent mass bleaching events, especially since the plan doesn't include steps to counter climate change.

The AU$2 billion Reef 2050 plan was launched in March 2015, with an aim of improving the "universal value" of the world's largest coral reef every decade leading up to 2050.

But in a meeting last week, scientists warned the advisory committee that oversees the plan that the goal of improving the reef environment is unrealistic after back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, contributing to the worst coral die-off ever recorded…..

According to Panel Chairman and former Chief Scientist of Australia, Ian Chubb, the Reef 2050 Plan needs a significant overhaul to directly address the elephant in the room: warming oceans, the main contributor behind coral bleaching.

"We can't be passive bystanders in this. We're the custodians of the reef and its ecosystem for the world," he told Adam Morton at The Sydney Morning Herald.

"We don't say toss out the plan and start from scratch – action on water quality, sediment, and fertiliser remain important – but events mean it needs to be shifted."

Monday, 1 May 2017

Left unchecked the gas & coal mining sectors will be the death of the Great Artesian Basin and what is left of the Great Barrier Reef


According to an August 2016 Report Commissioned By The Australian Government And Great Artesian Basin Jurisdictions Based On Advice From The Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) is one of the largest underground freshwater reservoirs in the world. It underlies approximately 22% of Australia – occupying an area of over 1.7 million square kilometres beneath arid and semi-arid parts of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Approximately 70% of the GAB lies within Queensland…..

The first people to make use of GAB water were Indigenous tribes for whom it was critical to survival. Indeed, there is evidence that the GAB sustained Aboriginal people for thousands of years prior to European settlement.

The natural springs of the GAB provided a critical source of fresh water, and supported valuable food sources including birds, mammals, reptiles, crustaceans and insects, creating an abundant hunting ground for local tribes. The plants and trees around the artesian springs were used for food, medicine, materials and shelter.

The springs provided semi-permanent oases in the desert and supported trade and travel routes which evolved around them. The springs also played a key part in the spiritual and cultural beliefs of Aboriginal people. Ceremonies and other events were held at spring wetland areas which remain precious cultural and sacred sites. Numerous Creation stories feature a connection to groundwater.

This underground freshwater reservoir holds 65,000 million megalitres much of which fell as rain 1 to 2 million years ago, but not all of this water is in accessible layers.

For assessment purposes the GAB is divided into four regions – Carpentaria, Central Eromanga, Western Eromanga and the Surat Basin.

In 1878 the first bore was sunk to draw water from the Great Artesian Basin.

In modern Australia its economic values are shared by towns, agriculture, cattle & sheep grazing and industry/mining across the four basin regions.

The Courier map based on a 22 August 2016 report
                                                                                                                                              
The report points out that Water has historically been extracted from the GAB at a greater rate than recharge and this creates a problem for 21st Century Australia.

Professor of Environmental Sciences Derek Eamus, University of Technology, 18 June 2015:

As the pressure in the GAB has declined and the water table drops, mound springs (where groundwater is pushed to the ground surface under pressure) have begun to dry up in South Australia and Queensland. Associated paperbark swamps and wetlands are also being lost and it gets more and more expensive to extract the groundwater for irrigation and other commercial applications.

On average, rates of groundwater extraction across Australia has increased by about 100 per cent between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, reflecting both the increased population size and commercial usage of groundwater stores.

Despite the strain on water resources, the gas and coal mining industries are allowed virtually unlimited water extraction from within the Great Artesian Basin and where the few limits are placed on extraction it is poorly policed by government agencies.

This is a graph of coal seam gas, conventional gas and petroleum industry water use 1995-2015:

Source:.DNRM 2016, p. 62.

The Adani Group’s most recent water licence for the Carmichael coal project issued in April 2017 allows it to take a virtually unlimited volume of groundwater each year for the next 60 years, plus surface water – with minimum oversight.

The Environmental Defender’s Office (Qld) states that: It is expected that Adani may require up to 9.5 billion litres of groundwater every year for the Carmichael project.

Poor management by Adani of its Abbot’s Point coal waste has already led to a smothering of the vibrant, nationally important Caley Wetlands with run-off via its estuarine system expected to reach adjacent waters of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Satellite image of Caley Wetlands after emergency water release by Adani - now covered in coal waste.
A picture of the Abbot Point coal loading facility showing coal water run-off moving north-west into the wetlands and coal dust on the beaches. The Age, 12 April 2017, Photo: Dean Sewell
Coal dust on the beaches next to the Abbot Point coal loading facility  Photo: Dean Sewell/Oculi


On 10 March 2015 ABC News reported:

Hundreds of square kilometres of prime agricultural land in southeast Queensland are at risk from a cocktail of toxic chemicals and explosive gases, according to a secret State Government report.

A study commissioned by Queensland's environment department says an experimental plant operated by mining company Linc Energy at Chinchilla, west of Brisbane, is to blame and has already caused "irreversible" damage to strategic cropping land.

The department, which has launched a $6.5 million criminal prosecution of the company, alleges Linc is responsible for "gross interference" to the health and wellbeing of former workers at the plant as well as "serious environmental harm".

The 335-page experts' report, obtained by the ABC, has been disclosed to Linc but not to landholders.

It says gases released by Linc's activities at its underground coal gasification plant at Hopeland have caused the permanent acidification of the soil near the site.

Experts also found concentrations of hydrogen in the soil at explosive levels and abnormal amounts of methane, which they say is being artificially generated underground, over a wide area.

The region is a fertile part of the Western Darling Downs and is used to grow wheat, barley and cotton and for cattle grazing, with some organic producers.

Other documents, released to the ABC by the magistrate in charge of the criminal case, show four departmental investigators were hospitalised with suspected gas poisoning during soil testing at the site in March.

"My nausea lasted for several hours. I was also informed by the treating doctor that my blood tests showed elevated carbon monoxide levels (above what was normal)," one of the investigators said.

High levels of cancer-causing benzene were detected at the site afterwards.

On 9 February 2017 ABC News was still reporting on the contamination:

Flammable levels of hydrogen have been found at a number of locations near the site of a controversial gas project that has been blamed for contaminating huge swathes of prime Queensland farm land.

The ABC understands an ongoing Environment Department investigation has confirmed that the contamination is much more widespread than previously thought.

The Queensland Government has dispatched Environment Department officers to the Hopeland community, near Chinchilla in the state's south, and is setting up a call centre to help explain the situation to landholders…..

Due to fears about possible hydrogen explosions, the Government has been enforcing a 314-square kilometre "excavation caution zone" around the Linc plant, with landholders banned from digging any hole deeper than two metres.

The ABC understands further investigation by the Environment Department has now found flammable levels of hydrogen at locations outside the current caution zone.

The hydrogen has been detected underground and the department says it dissipates quickly in the open air.

Government sources have stressed the gas is not of an explosive concentration but landholders will be encouraged to exercise caution.

Left unchecked the mining industry will bring the Great Artesian Basin closer to collapse.

It is not as if either federal or state governments ever fully realise the supposed financial gains allowing this environmental degradation was supposed to bring to their treasuries.

In 2007-08 the Australian Taxation Office released taxation data which showed that 68.8 per cent of all mining companies on its books paid no tax in that financial year. In 2009-10 the percentage of mining companies paying no tax had risen to 73.1 per cent and in in 2010-11 the percentage of mining companies paying no tax was 72.2 per cent. By 2013-14 a total of 60 per cent of publicly listed energy and resources companies did not pay tax and again in 2014-15 60 per cent of all energy and resources companies paid no tax.

Add to this the fact that Adani in Australia in estimated to have paid only 0.008 percent in tax on their total income in 2014-2015 and is structured in such a way that its tax burden is artificially lowered and a significant proportion of its profits move offshore to the Cayman Islands tax haven.

It isn’t hard to see a pattern developing here.

Maximum environmental, cultural, social and economic risk for Australia with minimal financial return on risk.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

"Zero prospect of recovery" for many sections of Australia's World Heritage Great Barrier Reef


James Cook University, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, media release, 10 April 2017:

Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

For the second time in just 12 months, scientists have recorded severe coral bleaching across huge tracts of the Great Barrier Reef after completing aerial surveys along its entire length.  In 2016, bleaching was most severe in the northern third of the Reef, while one year on, the middle third has experienced the most intense coral bleaching.

“The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for 1,500 km (900 miles), leaving only the southern third unscathed,” says Prof. Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who undertook the aerial surveys in both 2016 and 2017.

“The bleaching is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming. This year, 2017, we are seeing mass bleaching, even without the assistance of El Niño conditions.”

The aerial surveys in 2017 covered more than 8,000 km (5,000 miles) and scored nearly 800 individual coral reefs closely matching the aerial surveys in 2016 that were carried out by the same two observers.

Dr. James Kerry, who also undertook the aerial surveys, explains further, “this is the fourth time the Great Barrier Reef has bleached severely – in 1998, 2002, 2016, and now in 2017. Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss.”

“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”

Coupled with the 2017 mass bleaching event, Tropical Cyclone Debbie struck a corridor of the Great Barrier Reef at the end of March.  The intense, slow-moving system was likely to have caused varying levels of damage along a path up to 100 km in width. Any cooling effects related to the cyclone are likely to be negligible in relation to the damage it caused, which unfortunately struck a section of the reef that had largely escaped the worst of the bleaching.

“Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts,” explains Prof. Hughes. “Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events:  1°C of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years.”

‘Ultimately, we need to cut carbon emissions, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”

Not all data is shown, only reefs at either end of the bleaching spectrum: Red circles indicate reefs undergoing most severe bleaching (60% or more of visible corals bleaching) Green circles indicate reefs with no or only minimal bleaching (10% or less of corals bleaching).

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

CCRAP and the Adani Group


Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of India's largest coal trader the Adani Group, intends to dig an enormous hole in the ground costing over $16 billion and the odd billion or two it can extract from gullible federal and state governments in Australia.

This hole known as the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project will comprise six open-cut pits and five underground mines; supported by five mine infrastructure areas, a coal handling and processing plant, a heavy industrial area, water-supply infrastructure, 189-kilometres of rail line (Adani has applied for a $1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build the rail link), as well as off-site infrastructure including a workers' accommodation village and airport.

All of this running roughly parallel with the Great Barrier Reef and the Abbott Point port required to ship all this coal overseas at considerable risk to fresh water security, coral sustainability and marine biodiversity.


To facilitate its aim of environmental vandalism for corporate profit the Adani Group has registered the following companies which are all currently operating out of an office tower in Eagle Street, Brisbane:

Abbot Point Operations Pty Ltd
Adani Abbot Point Company Pty Ltd
Adani Abbot Point Holding Trust
Adani Abbot Point Terminal Holdings Pty Ltd
Adani Abbot Point Terminal Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Coal Terminal Finance Company Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Coal Terminal Holdings Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Coal Terminal Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Company Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Holding Trust
Adani Minerals Pty Ltd
Adani Mining Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Finance Company Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Holdings Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Network Holdings Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Network Holdings Trust
Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Network Trust
Carmichael Rail Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Pty Ltd
Galilee Transmission Holdings Pty Ltd
Galilee Transmission Holdings Trust
Galilee Transmission Pty Ltd
Mundra Port Holding Trust
Mundra Port Holdings Pty Ltd
Mundra Port Pty Ltd

Juice Media put this mocking video together to let the Adani family and the world know what many people in this country think of this mining scheme.

Thanks to Simon Chance for this link

Published on Dec 4, 2016
The Australian Government just released this advert about the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and it's surprisingly honest and informative. 

6 WAYS YOU CAN HELP STOP CCRAP:

1. Tell PM Malcolm Turnbull you don't want your tax dollars to be used to subsidise CCRAP: https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/gr...
2. Join GetUp!'s Fight for the Reef: https://fightforthereef.getup.org.au
3. Donate to the Wangan & Jagalingou defense fund: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/donate
4. Follow the Wangan & Jagalingou on Facebook to keep up to date with the campaign to stop CCRAP on their lands: https://www.facebook.com/WanganandJag...
5. Find out more about the Wangain & Jagalingou traditional owners: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au
6. Share this video.
CREDITS: Written & created by Giordano. Performed by Matylda. Voice by Lucy. Thanks to Adso, Kajute, Miriam, Anthony, Adam, Benna, Damian, Dave and Dbot for helping out! Photos and Footage of Wangan & Jagalingou people used with permission from Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council.  Please SUPPORT the Juice Media to help us make more videos: https://www.patreon.com/TheJuiceMedia

BACKGROUND

Financial Review, 6 December 2016:

Challenges:

Finance – There is a reason the Galilee Basin has been left undeveloped for the past 50 years. For a start, it's close to 500 kilometres from ports on the coast, meaning whoever is going to build the project has to outlay billions of dollars to get the project built. And the quality of the coal is not as good as others in the closer Bowen and Surat Basin.
India's Adani Group also has to find $10 billion to finance the project. There are also questions raised about whether the project is economically viable after a plunge in the coal price following the end of the coal boom. But even though the price of thermal coal has recovered to above $100 a tonne in recent months, it is less relevant because Adani is using the coal for its own power stations rather than selling to other customers. The Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis director Tim Buckley – a vocal critic of the project – says Adani's parent company is struggling with current market capitalisation of equity at $US1.1 billion, against which it has net debts of $US2.4 billion.

Environmentalists – Adani's Carmichael project has become the lightning rod for anti-fossil fuel activists and environmentalists who want to stop the building of any new coal mines in Australia. It also fits into the narrative about Australia's changing energy mix – from one dominated by coal and gas to renewable energy such as wind and solar. Environmentalists claim the extra coal exports will damage the World Heritage-protected Great Barrier Reef, although it has received environmental approval from both state and federal governments. As the Turnbull government releases its 2017 climate review this week, the argument over the Adani mega-mine also ties in with the debate about whether Australia,- which has one of the largest emissions per capita,- should be building another large coal mine that will release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Well-funded and media-savvy environmental groups have also been very effective in targeting banks about lending to the Carmichael mine. Some banks, under pressure to make sure they look like good corporate citizens, have promised not to lend to any future coal mines.

Legal activism – One of the reasons the project has been progressing at a snail's place the past seven years is because environmental and Indigenous groups have used the legal system to their advantage and challenged virtually every aspect of the project. The mining lease, environmental authority, and native title have been challenged by a range of parties, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, little-known group Coast & Country as well as Indigenous group, the Wangan and Jagalingou. They have successfully held up the project, resulting in the former Abbott government threatening to change the laws to make it harder to challenge big mining projects.

Last month, two legal challenges were thrown out of court, leaving three appeals – two before the full bench of the Federal Court over the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act and native title, and there is also a judicial review of Adani's port expansion at Abbot Point which has been brought by local residents in the Whitsundays – before the project can be given the green light.

Scandal  – The Adani Group has been plagued by allegations of corruption surrounding its projects in India. Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is one of India's richest men, whose personal wealth was valued at $7.1 billion in 2014 by Forbes magazine. There have been allegations of environmental vandalism in relation to the development of the Port of Mundra, which is owned by Adani, as well as claims of tax evasion. Adani's Australian chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj has also been dragged into the scandal by failing to disclose his history running a mining company in Africa that pleaded guilty to serious economic harm. So far, none of these allegations have failed to bring down any of Adani's executives, but it adds to the controversy over the project.

UPDATE

ABC News, 21 December 2016:

Giant Indian conglomerate Adani, which plans to build one of the world's largest coal mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin, has set up a complex network of companies and trusts in Australia which are owned in one of the world's major tax havens, the Cayman Islands.

The Adani Group is also attempting to shift ownership of the existing Abbot Point coal port — which it bought for $1.8 billion — to a Singaporean company ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands.

An exhaustive search of company filings and documents across the globe has cast light on this opaque structure of ownership and control.

It has alarmed environmental activists and legal experts, who fear it could make it harder to gain compensation from Adani in the event of an environmental disaster from Adani's planned mine and port expansion on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

"I've been a businessman for most of my life, as well as an environmental activist, and the risks are great," said Geoff Cousins, former Optus CEO and chairman of the George Paterson advertising agency, now a board member of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

"With these kinds of approvals of big mining operations or port operations, you always get a set of conditions that the Government puts on.
"But those conditions aren't worth anything if, when something goes wrong, you try to find the company responsible and either it has no money or if it has money it's in a tax haven and you can't reach it."

It is a view echoed by David Chaikin, a professor of business law at the University of Sydney.
"The advantage of having the money in tax havens is that you are able to conceal the source of money, the use of money, and also to minimise tax," he said…..

Adani has created four companies and two trusts in Australia for the rail project.

The parent company for all these entities is Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings Pte Ltd, a company registered in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is 15 per cent.

This Singapore parent company is in turn owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a private company controlled by the Adani family and based in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands……

Adani has created four companies and two trusts in Australia for the rail project.

The parent company for all these entities is Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings Pte Ltd, a company registered in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is 15 per cent.

This Singapore parent company is in turn owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a private company controlled by the Adani family and based in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands.

The vast expansion of the coal port planned by Adani has sparked enormous controversy.

It will involve dredging 1.1 million tonnes of spoil from the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and poses a potential danger to the environmentally-sensitive reef, which is listed on the World Heritage Register.

Critics say the company structure set up by Adani raises serious concerns about the value of strict environmental approvals placed on the project.

Ownership of the existing Abbot Point Coal Terminal is in limbo.

Adani bought a 99-year lease over the coal port in 2011 for $1.8 billion through a company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (AZPEZ).

That company said it "sold" the port three years ago to a Singaporean-based Adani family company "subject to regulatory and lenders approvals".

But the sale has not been completed, because of objections by the State Bank of India, which lent Adani $US800 million ($1.1 billion) for the port purchase.

In its latest filings with the Australian corporate watchdog, Adani still lists the port as being owned by the Bombay-listed company.

But ASPEZ's 2016 annual report said it had "recorded the divestment" of the port to Abbot Point Port Holdings Pte Ltd, Singapore: an entity which lists as its sole director Vinod Shantilal Adani, the brother of Guatam Adani, head of the Adani Group, and which is ultimately owned by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands.

Transferring ownership of the critical port infrastructure to a Caymans Islands' company "means it will be unregulated, unaccountable," Tim Buckley, director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analytics told the ABC.

"It will be non-transparent to the Australian Government as to what is going on, who owns it, who are the directors. To me it is a matter of national security."

Companies and trusts created by Adani for the proposed Carmichael mine are ultimately owned by Adani Enterprises, a publicly-listed company in India, but the control flows via a company registered in the tax haven of Mauritius, Adani Global Ltd.

Adani Global Ltd. is based at Suite 501 St James Court, St Denis Street in Port Louis, Mauritius, and since 1998 has operated as a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Limited which was incorporated in March 1993 as Adani Exports Ltd with the name change effected in 2007.

In October 2010 Adani's Australian subsidiary, Adani Mining Pty Ltd, made an application for approval of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.

On 14 October 2015 the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment granted approval of 'controlled action' subject to conditions following re-consideration of project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

In 2014 Adani and Posco had agreed to build rail line in Australia and the following year Adani signed an MoU with Australia's Woodside Energy for Energy Cooperation.

Adani media release, 25 November 2016:

Adani welcomes court decisions Adani Group today welcomed decisions by the Queensland Supreme Court to dismiss activist lead appeals against the granting of a Mining Lease and an Environmental Authority in relation to the company’s planned $21 billion coal project. The company said the decisions were further positive steps towards starting work in the September Quarter 2017 on the Carmichael Mine in central western Queensland and associated projects – a near-400km rail line and port expansion at Abbott Point. Adani said it would now examine the full decision documents and make no further comment.

Adani letter to the Indian stock exchange, excerpt, 8 December 2016:


Live Mint, 21 December 2016:

Adani Enterprises Ltd is aiming to start production at its $16 billion integrated mining project in Australia by end of 2020, after facing a four-year delay because of stiff resistance from environmental groups. 

In an interview, group chairman Gautam Adani brushed aside concerns about the group’s indebtedness and said it was looking at investment opportunities in sectors such as defence, coal conversions and water. He added that the group continues to explore opportunities in the mining sector as it looks at an integrated “pit-to-plug” strategy encompassing mines, rail and the port sector. 

The Carmichael mines in Galilee, Australia, will produce about 25 million tonnes of coal a year in fiscal 2021. The group has invested close to $4.5 billion in the first phase, Adani said. It is planning to use the coal to fuel its Mundra and Udupi power plants. 

Adani also said he sees the ports business—one of the group’s most successful ventures so far—to meet its target of setting up 200 million tonnes of cargo handling capacity by the end of 2018, two years before schedule.