In a relief to India’s energy major Adani, an Australian court on Friday dismissed a Queensland indigenous group’s application challenging the mining leases granted to its controversial 21 billion dollar Carmichael coal mine project, one of the world’s largest. The application was filed by the Members of Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) community who argued that a determination made in April 2015 by National Native Title Tribunal, relating to the proposal of granting of two mining leases, was not correct. Queensland Federal Court dismissed the challenge.
Senior traditional owner for W&J Adrian Burragubba had said that Adani misled the tribunal about the economic benefits the mine would create and as a consequence the tribunal made the wrong decision. He had filed the application for judicial review against Queensland Government, Adani and National Native Title Tribunal.
Announcing the judgement, Justice John Reeves concluded that none of Burragubba’s grounds of review had merit. Reeves said the tribunal did not fail to observe the rules of natural justice or constructively fail to exercise its jurisdiction.
Burragubba said he would continue to fight the mine. “While I respect the judgement of Justice Reeves, we will seek advice from our legal team on an appeal,” Burragubba said. “It is clear, however, that my submissions to the court and our concern to protect our life, culture and traditions and the social, cultural and economic structures of our group were dismissed and overridden.”We continue to be restricted in the full expression of our laws and customs, in service to the machinery of mining development and the destruction of our country and culture.”
Welcoming the decision, Adani said it would continue to work with the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to help ensure the benefits of the mine, rail and port project were realised. The Company statement said, “Over five years, Adani has worked closely with traditional owners spanning its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland. Over that time, Burragubba has continuously objected to any and every process relating to the mine at Carmichael, even in the face of the majority of his traditional owner group supporting the project.”
“Pending the resolution of outstanding legal challenges to activist-led state and federal approvals, Adani stands ready to deliver on its plans to build a long term future with Queensland, while delivering the jobs, training and economic benefits both to regional Queensland and traditional owner communities” the statement said.
Adani’s project has been hampered time and again since its launch six years ago. A federal court in August last year had revoked the original approval due to environmental concerns. In October last year, the project got a new lease of life after the Australian government gave its re-approval.