Independent assessment by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia for groundwater management plans

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Minister for the Environment

Independent assessment by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia for groundwater management plans

Media release
9 April 2019

CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have independently assessed the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project.

Both CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have confirmed the revised plans meet strict scientific requirements.

Following this independent assessment and the Department of the Environment and Energy’s recommendation for approval, I have accepted the scientific advice and therefore approved the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

This decision does not comprise the final approval for this project.

The Project now requires further approvals from the Queensland Government prior to construction commencing. To date, only 16 of 25 environmental plans have been finalised or approved by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments with a further 9 to be finalised.

It must meet further stringent conditions of approval from the Commonwealth before it can begin producing coal.

This project has been subject to the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia.

Approvals for the project by the Commonwealth in 2015 and the Queensland State Government in 2016 resulted in the setting of 180 strict conditions to protect the environment.

The Project’s water management plans have been thoroughly assessed by the Department of the Environment and Energy, which commissioned independent technical advice from Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO.

That advice identified areas of groundwater modelling, monitoring and management that required further work.

That advice recommended a number of actions, which the Company has accepted in full, including:

  • A substantial increase of early warning monitoring between the mine and the Doongmabulla Springs using additional deeper bores and an additional bore site to monitor flows
  • Tightened corrective action triggers requiring an immediate response to any unexpected groundwater impact
  • Commitments to re-run the model addressing all Geoscience Australia and CSIRO concerns within two years of the commencement of coal extraction (noting there are no predicted impacts to nationally protected matters within 15 years).

Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO have provided written assurances that these steps address their recommendations.

The advice from Geoscience Australia and CSIRO has been provided to the Queensland Government.

This process reflects our commitment to ensuring robust environmental protection while balancing the needs of Australia’s economy.

This is a commercial project. The Australian Government is not providing any financial support to the mine or to its rail project.

The advice from Geoscience Australia and CSIRO is available here: http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/assessments/key-assessments

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