Bravus Mining & Resources’ North Galilee water scheme at the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland has been thrown out by the Federal Court.
The scheme planned to provide 12.5 billion litres of water to the coal mine every year through a water pipeline, pump station infrastructure and the expansion of an existing dam in the Belyando/Suttor river catchment.
The case was brought to court after the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) had appealed its viability.
Bravus lost the case on the grounds that the Minister for Environment – who approved the scheme last year – had failed to take the ‘water trigger’ into account which is part of the Commonwealth environment protection legislation.
When the water trigger is considered, the effects of large coal mining developments on rivers and river catchments have to be factored in.
A Bravus spokesperson said the company will review the decision and form another plan of attack to ensure Carmichael remains on track.
“We will carefully consider the judgement handed down today in the Federal Court regarding the validity of the Federal Environment Minister’s previous decision to approve the North Galilee Water Scheme,” the spokesperson said.
“The issue considered by the Federal Court concerned the interpretation of certain sections of the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act.”
The spokesperson said the decision made little difference to the overall project, as the water infrastructure was not necessary to continue the development of the planned site.
“Regardless of today’s court judgement, construction on the Carmichael mine and rail project is well underway, and importantly, the North Galilee Water Scheme project is not required for these construction activities,” the spokesperson said.
“We have also secured water for the operational phase that does not require the North Galilee Water Scheme. For the avoidance of doubt – today’s decision will not have any impact on the construction or operation of the Carmichael Mine.”
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt was pleased to hear that the thousands of people employed by the Carmichael development would still have jobs, as Bravus assured them the decision would not halt operations.
“This is good news for the 2000 workers the mine has directly employed in regional Queensland and the billions of dollars of local contracts it’s awarded,” Pitt said.