Groundwater Impacts

Adani itself estimates that the Carmichael coal mine will extract an average of 4.7 billion litres per year[1] which equates to 270 billion litres over the life of the mine. Adani will not be charged for the groundwater they take during mining[2].

The Associated Water Licence granted to Adani by the Queensland Government, allowing Adani to take groundwater, does not place a limit on how much groundwater can be extracted[3].  However, it is restricted to take associated with mining activities.

Legal avenues for communities to object to the grant of the associated water licence were removed during a midnight sitting of the Queensland Parliament in 2016.

The licence is valid for sixty years and there are no independent review processes available. Also, the license does not provide any thresholds to halt the mine if its impacts on groundwater are greater than predicted or too severe. 

The direct groundwater take for the mine is from coal-bearing formations.  However, these coal seams are situated under the Great Artesian Basin, leading to risks of indirect drainage and depressurisation of aquifers forming part of the Basin.

Adani itself acknowledges that its operations will cause some water to drain from the Great Artesian Basin[4].  However, there are risks that the drainage will be far greater than estimated.  

The Federal Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) has raised concerns that underground longwall mining planned by Adani may cause fractures that could affect the Basin[5].

There are 9 proposed coal mines in the Galilee Basin.  So far 5 of those have been approved without adequate information to assess their full impacts on water resources, and without considering the combined impacts of the operation of all these mines together.

Analysis shows that up to 2,007 billion litres of groundwater could be sucked out if all the 9 mines proceed [6] - almost twice the volume of water in Wivenhoe Dam

[1] Adani 2016. Supporting Document for Application for Mine Dewatering under the Water Act 2000: Carmichael Coal Mine. P11
[2] Most groundwater users in Queensland are not required to pay for groundwater use.  However, there is a strong argument that the mining industry should be required to pay for groundwater take, as it is required to do in NSW.
[3] Associated Water Licence 617264 granted to Adani Mining Pty Ltd by DNRM on 29/3/2017.
[4] Adani 2016. Supporting Document for Application for Mine Dewatering under the Water Act 2000: Carmichael Coal Mine. P11
[5] Independent Expert Scientific Committee Advice on the Carmichael Coal Mine
[6] Hydrocology Environmental Consulting, 2013 (plus associated update).  Draining the Lifeblood: Groundwater Impacts of Coal Mining in the Galilee Basin.

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