Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow and Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow
Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow and Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow Jann Houley

Adversity hardens Adani's resolve

ADANI Mining CEO Lucas Dow carried a message of steely resolve and strong confidence when he met a group of community leaders and business people in Rockhampton last week.

For a man in a $2b hot seat, Mr Dow was upbeat about his Carmichael Mine Project (it promises 750 jobs for Rockhampton) which is currently in a holding pattern following a late call by the Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Science to order an independent review into Adani's Black-throated Finch Management Plan.

The DES said that as the location of Adani's proposed coal mine hosted the largest and most significant known population of the Black-Throated Finch in Australia, it believed a thorough and detailed enquiry into the impacts the mine would have on this species was warranted. That review, was carried out by a panel which included five members of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

The review panel's report was provided to Adani in February by the DES and Mr Dow said Adani had rejected the report as "ultimately flawed”.

"We are absolutely committed to this (project), our resilience is unwavering, and if anything, it's hardened and we will see this through for Rocky,” he told the meeting on Wednesday.

"We are following established process and we expect to get a fair go.”

He remains frustrated that Adani had already worked through seven reviews of the Black-Throated Finch management plan over 18months with the DES only to see the "independent” review panel come up with a raft of proposed changes.

"We have spent about $1 million on this finch, and 33,000ha has been set aside (for it)” he said after the lunch.

"So the question is if (the BFMP) needs a whole heap of changes now, what was the state department doing for the last 18 months with seven revisions?”

"Where there is a scientific basis and requirement to improve the plan we have demonstrated our preparedness to do that. But we not going to accept things when they are patiently false. We are not going to do that. It's not reasonable.

"In the so called independent report that Professor Brendan Wintle and his cohort completed, there were a number of falsehoods and ultimately the report was flawed. We have written back to the state pointing out a number of those. We are of the view that the report should have no weight in its decision making process

He still has faith in the DES.

"We understand it (the BFMS) decision) is delegated to officers in the department. It's not a ministerial decision. The government has been at pains to reassure us there is no political interference so we certainly wouldn't expect any interference from either the minister or cabinet.

"We have confidence in the (DES) bureaucrats and the technical experts.”

On Thursday Adani met with the DES and from that exchange it said it would now be seeking advice to what changes "if any” were required to finalise the plan.

Adani's final steps

The BTFMP is one of two environmental management plans that need to be approved before operations can begin at Adani's Carmichael coal mine.

The other is the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP), which also needs approval from the Federal Government.

Among other things, the GDEMP is required to determine the source aquifer for the Doongmabulla Springs Complex and the methodology used to determine it.

The Federal Government has engaged CSIRO and GeoScience Australia to undertake an independent scientific review of the GDEMP.

DES will be satisfied to consider the scientific advice of CSIRO and GeoScience Australia in relation to the GDEMP prior to making a decision on the plan.