The Australia Department of the Environment and Energy has given approval of the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael coal mine and rail infrastructure project in Central Queensland, Australia. This follows more than 18 months of consultation with the department, and an independent review by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and Geoscience Australia.

The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan and the Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan details all the activities the company will undertake and safeguards it will implement to ensure it meets the approval conditions for the mine relating to groundwater, according to CEO Lucas Dow. This includes a network of more than 100 monitoring bores to track underground water levels.

“The plans will ensure we achieve sustainable environmental outcomes and we’re now looking forward to delivering the thousands of jobs our project will create for people in north and central Queensland,” Dow said. “Both CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have confirmed the revised plans meet strict scientific requirements.”

Dow said the Queensland Government has continued to shift the goal posts when finalizing the environmental management plans for the mine. “Queensland Minister for the Environment Leanne Enoch has stated she will not interfere in the ‘independent regulator’s’ decision on our outstanding environmental management plans, while hinting that the approvals will take time and refusing to accept that independent scientific assessments already completed are adequate,” Dow said.

He added that the company expects the state’s final assessments to take a fraction of the six weeks it took the federal government to finalize the groundwater approvals.

“The state government has all the information it needs to finalize these plans, including the rigorous scientific assessment by independent scientific bodies CSIRO and Geoscience Australia,” Dow said. “The state government’s process for approval of the outstanding Black-throated Finch Management Plan and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan should be efficient and timely, just as they are for other Queensland projects.”

The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) is one of two outstanding management plans that require approval from the Queensland Government. The other is the Black-throated Finch Management Plan. These are the last remaining approvals needed to begin construction of the Carmichael mine.